As I sit and type this on a sunny Sunday morning, this is my view –
I have taken up residence at a table located in a corner of the bar attached to my guest house; the busy street is to my left, and the bar lies ahead of me. I came down this morning for my breakfast of black chai, fresh juice and an idli to discover a “Reserved” sign on the table – just for me, so that I can use the one power point available this side of the bar.
It’s fascinating to see the street come to life as the day begins – and I can’t help but notice that all the early day labour is being undertaken by women. They are outside from 7am – sweeping, putting out rubbish, opening up their shop’s shutters, setting out their tables of jewellery and souvenirs. Anita and Savitha, who have shops opposite this bar, are open for business at 8am and never close before 11pm, 7 days a week – and they both have four children each and do all the cooking and cleaning for their families. Josie, who runs the adjacent beauty salon, has been out to sweep the path and put out her signs advertising facials, massages, manicures, pedicures and skin whitening (more on this in the future).
By way of a contrast, I am sitting here researching and writing an article on the Downing Street Project which will be published on The GlassHammer website later this month, having also just read the opening chapter of Avivah Wittenberg-Cox’s (wonderful) forthcoming book, “How Women Mean Business”.
The issues faced by women in India, the UK, the USA and elsewhere are so different in some ways and not in others and I feel, as I sit here with a glass of watermelon juice, that I can see a microcosm of them all in front of me, on my laptop and around me in the street.
Politics. Work. Balance. Family. Economic independence.