Who is a True Setback Leader?

A Non-Working Homemaker

Radhika is just a homemaker. She is not a working woman.

She is well-educated and well-read. It was her choice to dedicate her life to her family. She lives in a joint family with her in-laws, husband, and two teenage children in Bangalore’s posh locality.

She is the backbone of her family. Whether it is to attend to their every need, or making sure they are well-fed, or keeping the house kempt, or taking care of in-laws’ needs, or dealing with her husband’s mood swings, or keeping the house functioning like a well-oiled machine – she does all these with absolute ease and efficiency.

Her day starts at 5 am. After 30 mins of meditation, the madness begins. She multitasks with ease, from preparing lunch boxes for her husband and kids to helping them get ready for school. Once they leave, it’s time to tend to the elderly in-laws’ needs.

In between wrapping up breakfast and getting ready for lunch, she gets about 90 mins of a hiatus, which she utilizes for herself, exercising for a while and reading. That’s her only ‘me’ time. By the time lunch is wrapped up, kids come back. After attending to their needs, she drives to the vegetable market or finishes some chores before her husband returns. She must be back on time to provide him with his evening tea. After that, it’s time for helping the kids with homework and preparing for dinner. It’s generally 11 pm by the time she wraps up everything and goes to bed. 

It’s an unspoken rule in her house that women will manage the household and men will go out and earn. Hence, men will not share household chores with women and women are expected not to help in their finances.

Daily she is on the run for about 12.5 hours or more, but she is NOT a working woman. Is she a setback leader?

A Working Homemaker:

Roshni works for an MNC as a consultant. She is married to a busy man and has a teenage child. She lives in a nuclear family with her husband and child. Her day starts at 5 am too. After an hour-long meditation, she gets to the action. Fortunately, she has a full-time house help who eases her kitchen duties. After an hour-long madness in the kitchen, she gets ready for the office.

Her office is an hour’s drive away. By the time she reaches the office, it is around 9.30 am. She has set herself a rule to leave office latest by 5.30 – 6 pm even though sometimes work demands an extended stay at work.

Her family eats early dinner. Hence, she needs to be back before that. While on her way back, she speaks to her house-help to give her instructions about that day’s dinner. By the time she comes back, the cooking preparations are almost complete. She freshens up and quickly gets the dinner ready.

After wrapping up dinner, she sits on her office work for an hour or so, completing the pending tasks for the next day. By the time she hits the bed, it’s around 11-11.30 pm. Her only relaxation time is in the morning during her meditation.

Her professional works require 8-8.5 hours of her time, excluding the drive. The household chores engage her for another 4-5 hours of her time. Being married to a busy husband, she doesn’t get any helping hand from him to deal with house chores or helping the kid child with homework.

She is a working woman and manages her family with a lot of dedication and hard work. Is she a setback leader?

A Working Women

Rea is a single woman fiercely focused on her career. She leads the marketing department at a large MNC.

Her parents are dependent on her. Her father is a retired government official, and her mother is a homemaker. Her adorable dog is like her daughter. Apart from her work, she takes care of every need of her elderly parents and her daughter, financially, emotionally, and medically.

Fortunately, she earns well to appoint a house help and a cook. Hence, she can ease herself from doing the chores in the house. She takes leave whenever one of her parents are unwell or needs her support.

As she is in marketing, her job demands her to travel frequently. Her workday starts at 8 am with meetings and goes on till late in the evening. She doesn’t get much time for recreation or relaxation as her workdays are long and tiring. Most of the time, she is working for around 12-14 hours a day.

She makes sure to be awake by 6 am to complete her morning run for a good 30 mins before starting her maddening days, which keeps her sane. She deals with many judgemental people inside and outside the office. Some say she is too aggressive for a woman; some ask why she isn’t married yet? Some people speculate that she has an affair with the CEO – calling it the reason for her quick growth and success!

These constant stereotyping does hurt her sometimes, but she chooses to ignore them. She loves her job and inspires other women in the organization to thrive and do more.

She doesn’t have time for marriage or any other distractions. Is she a setback leader?

Who is a genuine setback leader, according to you? 

The woman who joined the paid workforce toil for more than 12 hours a day. Or the woman who manage home duties and office duties with equal finesse. Or the woman who toils at home for 14-16 hours without getting compensated for their unpaid labour.

All three are true setback leaders leading their lives with equal responsibilities, respect, love, and sincerity. 

It’s high time we stop stereotyping women in a specific frame or the other. Instead, let’s choose to challenge these stereotypes!

Working women vs non-working women are baseless segregation because women are ALWAYS working. There is nothing called a non-working woman. Don’t believe me? Check out this book, Invisible Women.

Yes, sometimes, women are unpaid for their contribution of labour. We assume it is her ‘responsibility’ to contribute to the unpaid work. Sometimes we also feel that women’s unpaid labour isn’t as essential as their contribution to the paid workforce. But the women of Ireland proved us wrong by taking a day off from the office and household chores on a sunny day – 24th October 1975 – when 90% of women in the country decided to demonstrate their importance by going on strike.

The whole country came to a standstill!

When we can respect women’s contribution equally, whether she is running the house or the office, that would be the best gift we can give women on this International Women’s day. 

Are you ready for choosing to challenge? Are you ready to gift this mindset to the women of your lives, both at home and work?


Have you seen such setback leaders in your circle or are you such a setback leader? Share their or your story in the comment below or write to me at connect@srijatabhatnagar.com. I would love to feature your story in this series. 

This is the 10th blog in the 100 ways to empower women leaders series. You can read the other blogs here.

Do join the Setback Leaders’ Worldwide Tribe should you wish to stay in close touch with other Setback Leaders from across the world.

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