While empowering women, we need to make sure that our men are empowered too. Don’t they need to be self-dependent and self-reliant as well?
Women in India and other developing countries have been suppressed for ages. Which is why we run campaigns to empower women and now, I feel they are empowered, but to a certain extent. Women know how to cook, drive, do laundry, run a business or do a 9 to 5 job. The know how to raise kids, how to handle finances and do their own taxes too.
Men, on the other hand, are raised like princes! Since early childhood, they are pampered into doing nothing and learning nothing about household chores. When at home, they just eat, sit and relax. It is considered ‘bad’ on a woman’s part to let a man take a glass of water by himself.
So, most men in India basically are brought up in a way that they can’t survive without a woman in their life. They cannot survive without their wives or mothers or daughter, or sister or even a maid!
In this scenario, I strongly feel that it’s high time we start campaigns for Men Empowerment. To start men empowerment, we should begin by giving them a basic training of life skills to young boys. This will make them self-reliant and self-dependent while also making them a little more empathetic to the women in their houses.
After all cooking, cleaning the house, doing laundry, taking care of people are just some simple life skills that everyone needs to know to survive. Just as young girls are taught to ride bikes, drive cars, study and get jobs to be self-dependent, boys, too, need to be taught household chores. It will work to make them feel empowered and also be in competition with girls in the real sense.
The next thing in ‘Men Empowerment’ that we should be doing is giving men the freedom to express their emotions- since childhood. It will do no one any good, to tell boys not to cry when they do so.
Why do we say so? Who decided that boy cannot show their emotions? Why do we burden them with our orthodox expectations of not showing their vulnerability and crying when they are hurt?
It is absolutely fine and, in fact, necessary to encourage boys to show their emotions and cry whenever they feel like it. It will give them an outlet to release their pent-up emotions. Won’t it only help them be less violent and aggressive? I believe, it will help them become more humane and caring.
The other thing we need to stop doing is to judge boys if want to play with dolls or like the colour pink. If they want to play ‘girly’ games, wear pink, cry as loud as they want or even wear dresses, there is no harm in letting them do so. There is nothing wrong in boys liking music and humanities more than technology and science. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with any of these! Just let the boys be the person they want to be, instead of pressurising them to be the ‘perfect’ little boy.
Another important thing we can do is to give them the same rights and benefits we give our women during the journey of parenthood. What I mean is, if you give women a maternity leave for six months, the men deserve a similar leave too.
It will not just give them time to spend with their new-born babies but also take care of the new mothers. Additionally, if the woman wishes to go back to work, the man can be on leave and take care of the house and the baby. Let them be good fathers by allowing them plenty of time with their kid and wife.
Lastly, don’t mock the men who love doing household work or take care of the children. Don’t ridicule a man who prefers to stay at home while his wife works. So what if they like to spend time painting, cooking, dancing or singing instead of being busy in the rat race and earn the maximum amount of money? There is nothing wrong in any of it.
Finally, I would like to say, let every individual, regardless of gender live the life they want. Don’t pressurise them into being something or even someone they aren’t.
Life is precious and everyone has a right to live theirs the way they want to. We are doing our bit to empower women and isn’t it time to empower men as well?
First published here.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Sui Dhaaga
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I'm Deeksha- mommy of a little girl, a school teacher by profession and a
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