How Meal kits break "The Invisible Wall" in way of Women Empowerment
I was recently reading book by Dale Carnegie and was very much inspired by his writing style. I’ll try to paint a picture of problem and solution by the accounts of various women I met overtime.
Story 1 - A Mother
2 years back, before I founded meal kit company, I was sitting with a mother. She asked me, what I want to do with my life? While, I answered, out of curiosity, I asked about her dreams and ambitions. I was surprised when she said, that she’d like to learn dholak (Indian equivalent for Drums), go on a solo cycling trip, teach yoga. Wow, I didn’t knew there was a hippie in her. I couldn’t stop asking her the question, of which I knew the answer. Why did you not do it? Why don’t you do it now? To my surprise, she answered, “you know, I’m housewife and I have to tend to needs of my children, husband and in-laws. And even if, I can manage most of household needs, I couldn’t leave my family, being a woman, I’m responsible for their daily food”.
At that point, it hit me, that it wasn’t that she wasn’t empowered. She was capable to fulfill her ambitions, but it was the conundrum of leaving her family’s food in despair while she did what she dreamed. And, I didn’t ask her as I knew the answer to the following question? Did she see it as a choice? No, it was always the only answer in her life. Well, this woman, this mother, is my mother.
Story 2 - Woman Employee
Smily B Vennikal, is an exemplary woman, who is extremely talented at what she does. She was working with me, in my previous company Groctaurant (a meal kit brand) and my current venture Daily Kit. When she joined Groctaurant, she had a house maid who cooked the food for her family. Due to some circumstances, the maid left. And suddenly, from that day onward, Smily had to take leave and then finally leave the company. Why? Well, because she couldn’t find the maid and had to be incharge of food at her home.
Story 3 - Woman Professor at Illinois Institute of Technology
Few months back, I met this professor at an Ignite Talk. We had an amazing discussion and during that, I shared my thoughts about women empowerment and above two stories. She didn’t agree with me. She said that, this problem is an Indian problem as in US, husband have equal responsibility to help in kitchen. She shared, how her husband was responsible for washing dishes after the cooking.
So was it an Indian problem only? Is it only in India, that women are synonymous to cooking? Well, No! In my follow up question with her, I asked; Let's say, at any given night, you forget to cook, whose fault would it be? Would it be your fault alone? Or, your husband and you, together shall share the blame? Only when I asked her this, she came to realize that the argument here is not the physical work shared rather the responsibility or the mental energy put into food.
Coming back to point, in my experience, I found that, the problem is not the question about who is spending the physical energy rather who is responsible for daily food. When it comes to food, woman are the kitchen CEOs, so even if the work is delegated to maid or husband or someone else, it is ultimately responsibility of woman, to ensure that her family is well fed.
So, how can it be solved? Should it be solved? From the story of my mother, I learned that it is not the empowerment that is stopping her from realizing her dreams rather the weight of responsibility that stops her.
Have you ever thought, why is it that woman are by default considered to take up the responsibility of food? Well, because managing kitchen is not an easy task. More than physical activity, it requires mental planning of buying groceries, managing daily menu, maintaining kitchen, which I know for sure my father wouldn’t be able to do while running his business. I am not able to do so. Whenever I’m away from home, I’ve eaten in most convenient way possible, overlooking any impact to my health. The children and old, wouldn’t be able to manage their own food.
The answer to this problem has nothing to do with women. The solution is to empower everyone when it comes to food. Each individual should be capable to manage their own food choices. Now, of course running a kitchen wouldn’t be possible for everyone and thus, let's welcome meal kit.
If meal kits were to become the daily choice for food, I can bet that my father wouldn’t mind cooking his own dinner or lunch. It’s only 15 minutes of exercise that he’d have to do. Even children above the age of 10, and old, could be able to manage their own food.
While, countless efforts are being spent into empowering woman, the true empowerment shall come when this invisible wall of “kitchen responsibility” would break, when women actually have an actual choice to follow their dreams, passion and ambitions.