- JWB Post
- July 12, 2014
Kitchen is perhaps the most underrated part of the house. Traditionally believed to be a ‘female domain, it is often looked down as a place where the men have no business. This divisive and insensitive approach is a direct result of age old bias in the society against a woman and her capabilities.
In most of the contemporary middle class households very few thoughts are spared on the kitchen and its role in woman empowerment. This approach is evident from the state of the kitchens, which are poorly equipped, gloomy, have uneven floor tiles and poor ventilation facilities. It is frequently noticed that the conditions are extremely unhealthy for the people working.
Another hindrance that serves as a roadblock is the assumption that cooking is a feminine activity. Unlike other countries in the west where the importance of self sufficient work is widely accepted, we don’t let the fact sink in that such segregation further results in backwardness and conservatism.
The kitchen is a place that combines innovation, leisure, relaxation all in one and facilitates a unique combination of self respect and zeal for learning which is very instrumental for the empowerment of women. Slowly the kitchen is transforming into a place which is best described as an outlet for creativity.
Homemaker and cooking enthusiast Mrs. Smita Saxena always ensures that the kitchen in her house is kept in spotless order. To quote her own words, ‘Kitchen is not only a place to arrange for our sustenance, but it is a platform where I can experiment, move away from the rigidity of our world and reap the happiness of being myself.’ She says that it is a pity that people seem to be in two minds when it comes to doing something new with the kitchen because there are endless ways through which we can make cooking a fun and joyful journey. Mrs. Saxena always tries to keep herself abreast with the latest developments and tries to implement the things that she finds interesting in her own house.
She is of the opinion that once we are able to move on from misconceptions that limit the woman, the new ideas will automatically usher themselves in. She maintains that even little things such as washing the dishes after a meal are of grave importance for family members when it comes to learning self-sufficiency.
Renowned architect and interior designer Ms. Rashmi Gupta opines that having a well equipped kitchen is a basic requisite for every house. Ms. Gupta believes that at this age when the lines between the housewife and working woman is blurring rapidly, a need for a dynamic and efficient kitchen is even more pressing. She tells Jaipur Women Blog, that nowadays most of the well-to-do families have servants who manage their day-to-day cooking. As a result it is often seen that caring about the hygiene and working conditions of the kitchen takes a backseat and ultimately ends up being sorely neglected.
Another of the shortcomings of a patriarchal society such as ours is that much less relevance is given to the female opinion before planning or refurbishing a house.
While starting a project, on her part Ms. Gupta always makes a point to meet the women of the house and only after taking their views into consideration she gives her nod to the appropriate course of action. According to her, an ideal kitchen should be airy; enough space so that two people can work easily and must have proper storage facilities and all the right utensils. Special emphasis has to be given on the environmental aspects such as ventilation facilities and minimal impact of cooking related pollutants. After reflecting upon her vast experience, Ms. Gupta is of the opinion that “since the eating habits in India are very different from the European or American countries, the kitchens thus designed should be perfect blends of tradition and modern technology which will make the experience of cooking more enriching and at the same time would leave ample scope for innovation.”
She sums it up by saying “people are spending millions of rupees in getting their kitchens designed and constructed but the pride of cooking and laying out a good meal for family and friends is fast becoming a thing of the past !!”
There is still an underlying predisposition in our country to restrict a woman well short of the point where she slowly transforms from a person confined in the four walls by shackles of unjust customs to a liberal 21st century global citizen. It is about time that we stop seeing the kitchen merely as a place for preparing meals but give it the proper significance to empower a woman.
It is quite surprising that once we start paying attention to these minute details, how easy our life becomes. Let us break the myth of the kitchen being an imaginary fortress which is the sole responsibility of housewives. It has to be understood that creativity can’t be harnessed because of narrow mindedness and gender based discrimination.
So, who says that you have to join a NGO to be a champion of women rights? Small actions of yours such as helping out your mother or spouse in the kitchen will also go a long way and contribute towards the same objective.
By Deep Mukherjee,