Why do Indian women do the most unpaid work in the world?
Everyday Indian women work for six and a half hours without getting paid, compared to a mere 45 minutes of unpaid labor for the men.
When I started recording this episode of Outliers with Aditi Mittal, I thought it would be a freewheeling, badass conversation with a comedian and her life lessons. What can we learn from the life and work of a stand up comedian who is a woman, I remember telling myself.
Aditi, who also co-hosts the Women in Labour podcast with Christina MacGillivray, tells her life story as bluntly as she does her comedy. No regrets absolutely.
Since 2005, the percentage of Indian women in paid work has dropped from 35% to less than 24%, but no one is talking about why. Until we did, and Women in Labour was born (pun intended).
Also, a warning for those listening in, this content has “strong language”, just the way Netflix describes Aditi’s shows.
The making of Aditi Mittal
It’s never too late to ask Aditi Mittal who’s Aditi Mittal.
“I always wanted to be welcome in a room. And I realized being silly and funny was a way to achieve that,” she tells me in this podcast.
Before coming back to India after the 2008 year of economic crisis, Aditi studied theatre and even earned pocket money by offering diabetic pedicure for $20 an hour in the U.S.
Back in India after her graduation, Aditi tried her luck in Indian cinema and soaps.
“I auditioned for a girl on the back of a motorcycle to a village girl complaining about water scarcity. I tried everything, from for a sexy girl tor dumb girl roles, even auditioned for the Dove audition.”
She started her career as a standup comedian in Cafe Goa, Pune. Over the past decade, Aditi has learned some life lessons from her comic acts.
“During the days I would keep getting rejected, and seek validations at night at the standups.”
“It was addictive to see people laugh. And the price to pay was not much. Just being silly I don’t mind looking like a fool. A lifetime experience of failing helped me get a thick skin,” she says.
And now, a profound life lesson from nearly a decade of Aditi’s life as a comedian.
“You’re not as good as your best show and you’re not as bad as your worst show.”
Being a comedian, and a woman who has strong opinions about the political regime and those who run it, make Aditi’s life and work even more stressful. Rape threats and online abuses do cause mental scars.
“The amount of abuse I wake up to is like….holy shit. It affected me in a way that I withdrew from the play field.”
Listen to this conversation for an amazing conversation with the badass comedian Aditi is, but more importantly, to think deeper about our societal problems of gender biases and more.