Why you should appreciate women and their work?

Woman tea leaf picker.

Many years ago, a man called Lemuel wrote a glowing description of a capable wife.

This is recorded in the Bible in Proverbs chapter 31.

The woman whose merits he extolled was certainly busy.

She looked after her family, traded in the marketplace, bought and sold land, made clothes for her household, and worked in the fields.

This woman was not taken for granted.

Since Lemuel’s time, women’s work has become, if anything, more complicated.

Their 20th-century role often requires them to be wives, mothers, nurses, teachers, breadwinners, and farmers—all at the same time.

Countless women make heroic sacrifices just to ensure that their children have enough to eat.

Yet, despite their hard work in so many areas, many women rarely get credit for what they do.

Do not all these women too deserve appreciation and praise?

Women as breadwinners

Today more women than ever have to work outside the home to help support their family or are the sole support of their family.

The book Women and the World Economic Crisis notes a report that stated:

Domestic work is not the only work women do. There are relatively few women anywhere in the world who can claim to be ‘just a housewife.’”

And women’s work is rarely glamorous.

Although magazines or television soap operas may depict women as executives in plush offices, the reality is usually very different.

The vast majority of the world’s women toil long hours for scant material reward.

Hundreds of millions of women work on the land, cultivating crops, tending small family plots, or caring for livestock.

This labor—usually underpaid or unpaid—feeds half the world.

The book Women and the Environment reports:

In Africa, 70 per cent of the food is grown by women, in Asia the figure is 50-60 per cent and in Latin America 30 per cent,” 

When women do have paid employment, they usually earn less than male workers, simply because they are women.

This discrimination is a particularly bitter pill to swallow for a mother who is the family’s only breadwinner, a role that is becoming more and more common.

A United Nations report estimates that between 30 and 50 percent of all households in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America depend on a woman as their main provider.

And even in the more developed lands, an increasing number of women have had to become the main provider.

Rural poverty throughout much of the developing world is accelerating this trend.

A husband who finds it a constant struggle to feed his family may decide to move to a nearby city or even another country to obtain work.

He leaves his wife behind to care for the family. If he is fortunate enough to find a job, he sends paychecks home.

But despite his good intentions, this often does not continue.

The family he has left behind may sink deeper into poverty, and their well-being now depends upon the mother.

This vicious circle, aptly described as the “feminization of poverty,” throws an enormous burden on millions of women.

The book Women and Health explains:

Households headed by women, estimated to be one-third of the total worldwide, are many times more likely to be poor than those headed by men, and the number of such households is increasing,”
But difficult as it is, putting food on the table is not the only challenge women face.

Women as mothers and teachers

A mother also has to care for the emotional welfare of her children.

She plays a vital role in helping a child learn about love and affection—lessons that may be just as important as satisfying his physical needs.

In order to develop into a well-balanced adult, a child needs a warm, secure environment while growing up.

Once again, a mother’s role is crucial.

In the book The Developing Child, Helen Bee writes:

A warm parent cares about the child, expresses affection, frequently or regularly puts the child’s needs first, shows enthusiasm for the child’s activities, and responds sensitively and empathically to the child’s feelings.”
Children who have received such warmth from a caring mother should certainly show her their appreciation.

Through breast-feeding, many mothers provide a warm environment for their child right from birth.

Especially in poor households a mother’s own milk is an invaluable gift she can give to her newborn.

Besides feeding and cherishing her children, the mother is often their principal teacher.

It is mainly the mother or grandmother who patiently teaches the child to speak, to walk, and to do household chores and countless other things.

Women's compassion sorely needed

One of the greatest gifts that women can give their families is compassion.

When a family member falls sick, the mother takes on the role of nurse, while still caring for all her other responsibilities.

“Women do in fact provide most of the health care in the world,” explains the book Women and Health.

A mother’s compassion may even motivate her to eat less herself so that her children do not go without food.

Researchers have found that some women view their food intake as sufficient even though they are malnourished.

They are so accustomed to giving the larger share to their husbands and children that as long as they can still work, they consider themselves adequately fed.

Sometimes a woman’s compassion expresses itself in her concern for the local environment.

That environment matters to her, since she also suffers when drought, desertification, and deforestation impoverish the land.

In one town in India, women were outraged when they learned that a lumber company was going to cut down about 2,500 trees in a nearby forest.

The women needed those trees for food, fuel, and fodder.

When the loggers arrived, the women were already in place, hands joined, protectively encircling the trees.

‘You will have to cut off our heads if you want to cut down the trees,’ the women told the loggers.

The forest was saved.

Whether in the role of breadwinner, mother, teacher, or wellspring of compassion, a woman is worthy of respect and recognition, as is her work.