In a world where the men of the family are exposed to the internet, computer and IT through their work, and the children develop a natural inclination to use them from their surroundings, where does it leave our mothers?
What do you expect a 65-year old retired government servant and grandmother to be doing? Taking care of grandchildren, temple-hopping or reminiscing - But what if she turned out to be a Quora superstar, an agony aunt, online friend and a confidante for thousands of millennials? Meet former finance manager of Coal India Ltd Vijaya Lakshmi, who is changing stereotypes.
Indian women have suffered from a great problem. And no, here we are not talking about the countless sexual assaults and abuse we read about every day. We are talking about the other end of the spectrum, which might be not a direct cause of the gender bias prevalent in the country.
We are talking about placing women on a pedestal and looking upon them as delicate goddesses, whose purity and frailty needs to be protected. Nowhere is this reflected more than in the case of Indian mothers.
From Santoshi Ma to Mother India, Indian mothers are projected as a representation of complete submission, sacrifice and devotion. They are supposed to wake up early, ensure everyone is well-fed, give up the last piece of meat or the last glass of milk for the family, and be the last one to bed. While our mothers gladly do these gestures, there are other behavioral impositions which restrict them from focusing on their own pleasures, preferences and potential.
Digital literacy is an extremely potent example. In a world where the men of the family are exposed to the internet, computer and IT through their work, and the children develop a natural inclination to use them from their surroundings, where does it leave our mothers? Specifically, the homemakers? Without considering the negligible amount of digital exposure they have, we often end up even deriding them due to their inability to understand the basic nuances of the digital world.
The average age of women becoming mothers in India is 23, which translates into the fact that a huge number of women have to assume the responsibility of rearing children before accomplishing their own goals, desires and even attaining the right age! A combination of all these factors has created a stereotype of women being rather technophobic, when the reality cannot be any different.
Nisha Madhulika, a famous YouTuber, decided to follow her passion for cooking and started sharing recipes on the internet. With constant encouragement and tech support from her husband, she has managed to develop a huge fan base of more than 4 million followers. She has charted an entire operational blueprint wherein she divides the entire week to conduct research, engage with followers and respond to fan mails. While Nisha is enjoying the spotlight, it is the constant excitement of being busy, and influencing others’ lives, that, she says, has helped her leave behind the depression stemming from an ‘empty nest’ syndrome.
Such success stories can be found all over the internet. Apart from stay-at-home mothers, even professional mothers have been known to utilise the power of the internet to reach out to millions of individuals, and establish an identity of their own. Sangeetha Menon, for instance, was a software engineer who decided to share her parenting experiences through a blog, which went on to become Bumps n Baby, one of India’s leading parenting blogs.
Families, especially children, should take the onus of helping mothers learn the intricacies of the digital world. However, a mere fundamental ‘you-click-on-this-to-open-that’ conversation is not enough. To ensure our mothers are equipped enough to pursue their latent entrepreneurial dreams through the internet, focused training in skills such as digital marketing is required.
Helping them understand varied concepts such as blogging, marketing over social media, running YouTube pages, accessing freelancing opportunities etc will help them transform their ideas into revenue. The flexible work hours combined with a newfound freedom that comes with financial independence can transform a woman completely, as seen from the case of Supriya Nagpal.
Supriya was a full-time IT professional when she took a hiatus in order to give birth to her son. Realising that she could not continue with a 9-6 job anymore, she decided to opt for a digital marketing training program offered by Digiperform. After completing her home-based, online training course that educated her about various tools and global trends shaping modern Digital marketing, she decided to kick-start her career, this time as a freelancer. She is now a successful freelancing software professional who has successfully created a thriving career for herself.
Our mothers have given up a lot of dreams in order to ensure ours are realised. As Vijaya Lakshmi, the evergreen Quora expert mentioned earlier, says, “Deep within all of us there’s a spark stored just like in the tip of a matchstick. It needs a rough surface to ignite, just like the hard work we put in. All we need to ensure is the spark thus produced is used to quickly light a candle before the flame goes off.”
This Mother’s Day, let’s ensure we help our mothers ignite the candle of an independent identity, with the help of a ‘digital’ spark!