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First, we talk about equality of sexes, then we need support for everything- that's the misfortune! Most feminists have conflated equality and sameness. And that's a huge mistake; the sexes are equal but they are different.
“Robust and artless, such is her allure
Glistening the magic, Like a nymph in an empyrean”
Growing up as a woman in India is still no easy task. Woman, isn’t she a human? She is made of the same flesh and bones like a man and if injured physically or mentally, she feels pain. The worth of a civilisation can be judged from the position that it gives to a woman. Still, gender-based discrimination against a female is pervasive across the world.
This is the 21st century. Still, the fight for equality is mulling upon us. ‘Gender equality is still the unfinished business of this century.’ Social and legal discrimination against women remains a major obstacle to economic development in emerging and developing countries. Certain forms of discrimination against women remain widespread. Our India, known for its supreme values and traditions, has become a place of demons. Rape has become the fourth most common crime against women in India. Despite having the world’s largest democracy, famous examples of gang rape and hangings demonstrate what a perilous place India is becoming for women. Millions of cases get registered of female foeticide. And in case, girl gets to survive, child marriage and high level of trafficking still cast a shadow over the safety of females.
We say ‘BETI PADHAO, BETI BACHAO’. This is a nice initiative taken by Hon’ble Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi ji. But why Beti Bachao? Why are we even supposed to make girls weak? By raising such slogans, we are showing our girls how flimsy they are! Whenever there is a queue at the railways or bus stands, why do the hoarding says ‘for old-aged, handicapped and WOMEN?’ Why our own people are making girls imbecile? In fact, I firmly believe in ‘BETA PADHAO, SAMAJ BACHAO’. They really need to be taught how to respect everyone.
Feminism- the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. Is this feminism making women strong or more feeble? More buttress is required for the one who is inept. First, we talk about equality of sexes, then we need support for everything- that’s the misfortune! Most feminists have conflated equality and sameness. And that’s a huge mistake; the sexes are equal but they are different.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi-
“To call woman the weaker sex is a libel;
It is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then,
Indeed, is woman less brute than man.
If by strength is meant moral power, then a woman is immeasurably man’s superior.”
The literacy rate among women is meagre as compared to men. This is because women are deprived of equal access to education as males in society. The proportion of women in highly paid jobs is very small. Women are exploited and harassed at the workplace. It is the obstacle women faces in the workplace- not a lack of ambition that leads women to opt-out or lose interest in advancement. Why these obstacles don’t hinder the males in society? The preference of a male child over a female child has always been a sensitive issue leading to abortions. But, I ask, where are girls lacking behind? They are doing extremely well in every sphere. Why inheritance becomes an issue? Despite the fact that women in developing countries provide nearly 70 per cent of the agricultural labour, they continue to account for over 60 per cent of the world’s hunger. Rural women are the backbone of their communities. They work in the land and support their families, ensure food security for their communities and feed their nation. However, they fare much worse than rural men.
This level of inequality is significant in a world where rural women make up over a quarter of the world population.
‘Birth is given to everyone by Almighty;
Then why some are good, some are bad,
Some criticise on colour, some on gender,
And some kill one another.
Alas, things don’t change!
Does God teach all this?’
Do we actually enact what we say? We talk about equality- do we follow it? We talk about right and wrong- do we accept it? We talk so much and implement so little! ‘Your preachings may not influence, but your examples will surely put an impact.’
When it comes to morality, there has always been one rule for woman and another for man. According to a survey by Ipsos Mori, a fifth of men and women globally say women are inferior to men or shouldn’t aspire to work outside of the house. Nearly half of all men and women in India and Russia believe women are inferior. It clearly shows how people are adapted with this notion of women as ‘the weaker sex’, strangely, including women!
It is our blinkered attitude that has led us to this point- ‘ The weaker sex’.
Every single day we have cases of sexual abuse and rape. Many don’t even make it to the police complaint, as it is still considered as a stigma to even talk about it. That’s what we do. Keep quiet. The horrors that go on in some homes go on and on because of this imposed bubble of ‘don’t talk about it’. Our silence is complicit.
In India, social attitudes are highly conservative. Sex education is left out of most school curriculums; legislators feel such topics could corrupt youth and offend traditional values. There is an expression in India- ‘ Raising a daughter is like watering your neighbour’s garden’ or even the worst – ‘It is better to have a thousand sons than one daughter’. Bride burning has become an everyday issue. India is home to one in every three child brides in the world. Families are still expected to pay a dowry of expensive gifts or money when a daughter gets married. Millions of girls are never sent to school because it is considered a waste of precious resources. If a family is poor, a son is the first to be fed and the ‘less valuable’ girl is given the leftover scraps to eat. India has an estimate of over million of child prostitutes. Indian widows are seen as a curse. Strange! The land of values and culture mistreat its own people.
This depicts that the core root of this problem is the very mentality of the uselessness of girls from within the Indian continent.
Bachendri Pal- she became the first Indian woman to conquer the highest summit in the world, Mount Everest in 1984.
Kiran Bedi- she joined Indian Police Service in 1972 and was first Indian woman to do so.
Neerja Bhanot- a young flight attendant who died while saving passengers from terrorists on board at a tender age of twenty-two years.
Ninety per cent of banks are headed by women as their CEOs. In every field, women are showing their mark in society except for one thing- their DIGNITY! India has started with the spark of giving girls equal rights but this step has to be taken more seriously and with firm minds. Women have been fighting for equal rights for generations- the right to vote, the right to control our bodies and the right to equality in the workplace. Still, we have a long way to go. We need to change our perspective- the way we look at the things. Let’s lift each other up to become the lawmakers. The message has to be loud and clear- we are strong, we are self-sufficing, we can do much better in all fields, we are multitaskers, we are the future! Women have started creating the world they want to live in- not only changing the world but also changing the way the world looks at us. Stop asking for things to change, let’s make the change ourselves.
This is uplifting the exploited one. Men and women- stop underestimating each other. Hold hands and work together for a better tomorrow. Let everyone have their own mark in the world. Let little flowers blossom. “Have enough confidence, to stand with a head high. Have enough humility, not to look down on others”.
In words of all the women in the world-
I just need a chance,
to grow, to explore, to understand,
to learn, to develop, to inspire,
I just need a chance;
To let the world know,
Who I am!”
Image is a still from the movie Naam Shabana
Writer, Mehak Varun, is the author of three books - THE HUMANE QUEST(volume-1,2 &3), published by Authorspress, New Delhi. It is a QUEST for HUMANITY.
She is born and brought up in read more...
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