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It is deeply distressing for Indian girls when parents ride roughshod over their ambitions and prioritise marriage instead.
A common practice in Indian households is that as soon as a girl completes her graduation, a storm of discussion surges among the family and extended relatives to find a suitable match and get her married off quickly.
A girl is often seen as a burden to the family and the prospect of getting her educated ‘beyond what is needed’ doesn’t even their minds. After all, they believe that educating a girl would be a squandering of their hard-earned savings.
Ironically, parents who didn’t have money for their daughter’s education seem to have all the money required to organise a lavish wedding for their daughter.
The root problem here is not about having enough savings or financial funds – the problem lies in the mindset.
Investing in a girl’s education will not only make her financially independent and confident; it also ensures that in the future, if she chooses to marry, she will look for a partner and not a master. She will be free to take up her own decisions and use her savings as per her own will, without anyone’s else’s consent or permission.
A girl’s education is truly the most precious gift her parents can give her.
A common fear that erupts amongst most Indian parents who have daughters is whether they will be able to conduct her marriage lavishly or not. There is also the fear of how society will perceive them if they aren’t able to fulfill the societal expectations and norms.
This is one reason why the birth of a daughter in an Indian household is not celebrated with joy, as it falls heavily on the parents to save all their earnings for her marriage.
As she grows up, they fret about the impending social and familial duty that will eventually break their backs financially.
Therefore, when daughters express their eagerness to continue their studies further, parents blatantly say, “If we invest all the hard-earned money for your education, then who will pay for your marriage?”
Really?! How can one weigh education and marriage on the same balance? They are two diverging paths that lead to different outcomes. One gifts a girl her financial freedom while the other binds her to bend for every decision.
In the overall scheme of things, a girl’s education ceases to be a priority or even an important thing to talk about. So, when a girl works hard, finishes off with her schooling or graduation, clears the entrance exam, and is all set for further education…Voila! comes the sharp turn…her parents don’t have enough money to educate her further. Of course, what they have is money set aside for her fancy marriage so that they can keep up their place in the good books of society.
The All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) of 2018-2019 states that the percentage of women enrolled in B.Tech courses was only 28 percent of the total enrolment. Even though the percentage was markedly higher in MBA courses at 41.67 percent, it doesn’t really guarantee women a higher participation in the workforce.
Many women are prevented from making an ambitious career choice as soon as they complete their education. Factors like settling in with a family, taking care of in-laws, and gelling with the culture of the new-found family are often placed higher than work. This is a big factor in the reduction of women in the workplace.
Some broad-minded parents proudly comfort their daughters by creating an illusion that they are granting permission for further studies, or will allow them to take up a job in the future, but shatter these illusions when it is time to get them married. This not only hampers the happiness of young women but also leaves them wary of trust in their own decisions.
Today, it is not sufficient for parents to educate their daughters only to attach a heavy price tag of marriage. Rather, parents should encourage their daughters to be positive thinkers and independent decision-makers who will leave behind a legacy that will inspire many others to come.
Dear parents, it’s time we stand up for our daughters’ education and encourage them to pursue higher studies. When each parent invest in the best education they can afford and ceases to prioritise marriage, society will be compelled to mend its ways.
And even if society around you refuses to change, why should you care? After all, your daughter’s passion and contentment is of the utmost importance to you…isn’t it?
Image source: A still from the film Angrezi Medium
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I am Iman Shakeel - an impulsive writer and a voracious reader who fuels her daily
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