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Almost every year we see girls scoring more than boys, and more girls than boys secure success in boards results. Yet, the contribution of women to our workforce is far less.
The CBSE results have created a new history. Around 70,000 students have scored more than or equal to 95% marks which is a new record in itself.
In class 11th and 12th we see that in subjects like biology, the ratio of girls to boys with high marks is around 70:30. Then later in medical colleges the ratio of those taking admissions becomes barely 50:50, even leaning mostly in favour of boys.
But on the maths side, the ratio is often boys:girls is 60:40, but admissions to engineering are much more skewed against girls – in engineering colleges and mostly in branches like mechanical or electrical, there are barely 1-2 girls per 100 boys.
This reminds me of a famous dialogue of a movie: ladka kitna bhi nalayak ho, wo asset hi rehta hai. Ladki kitni bhi layak ho, uski entry asset column me kabhi nhi hoti. (No matter how useless a boy, he is always an asset. And no matter how much of an achiever a girl, she is never seen in the assets column).
Let me narrate you the story of a dear friend of mine.
Arya, a timid little girl, came from a well to do and educated family. She scored 90% marks in her 10th boards, and yet she was chided by her parents for not scoring according to their expectations. Moreover, many of her parents’ friends would come home and ask about her plans for the next 15-20 years (From a 15 year old girl). She became depressed from all the judgement and people saying things like her “running away” because she didn’t “score enough”.
Moreover, there were people coming to her house right before her pre boards asking for her plans and giving all nonsensical suggestions. There was one friend of her father in particular, a doctor himself, who would tell her to score 40% and pass, and focus on medical entrance exams instead, and come back after a month to reverse his stance. It was done in order to confuse a bright student and reduce her worth to nothing.
In class 12th she scored 92%, getting a whooping 99 marks in biology, and yet there was no celebration, because 1 out of the 8 newspapers didn’t mention her name as the 1st in her biology section, but as 11th overall.
Her parents’ friends and other relatives kept coming to her and cast doubts over her decision to pursue medical studies because “even if you enter medical college at 18, you will need to study till 28, so when will you marry?”
Ultimately, her courage gave out and she stopped fighting and studying. She simply gave up. Years later when I talked to her, she told me that things had taken a turn for the worse when her parents tried to get her ready for marriage several times. Luckily she refused to budge, until one day she left house for her internship. (She studied from a local dental college as her parents didn’t want her to “go outside town and find a guy,” Because that is apparently the ultimate aim we women have).
Can you imagine? If, in a family in which both parents are educated, a girl can go through so much trauma, then what about girls from uneducated and poor families? Also, how important are the boards results? Were you at any point told that it’s really important and “ek bar achhe marks le aao fir maze hai”? (get good marks, then it is all fun sailing!).
Today, I see many of my friends who were once strong and independent, get into marriages and suffer, and yet not utter a word. From the very beginning, we have been raising women to lower their voices, check on their clothes, label them as sluts, and not even feed them properly equal to a brother around.
Poor boards results or any kind of failure for women could mean that they might get married at a young age. And while it seems glorious in memes, the long term impacts are never looked at.
We women also grow up believing silly customs and norms. To count a few: fasts are for women to do for the men, toe ring is for fertility, pierced nose and ears for fertility, cooking is for women, period taboos, and much more. And many of us have to do all of this while studying, with relatives and others constantly criticising us. Jobs are considered to be an ‘option’ and not a necessity or choice for women.
I sincerely believe that of we let girls believe in their potential, treat them at par with men, and not push these ‘norms’ on them, maybe some day we may see a generation of equality, maybe some day we may raise men who see us as equals, and be the society that India deserves…
Image source: teenage students by Shutterstock.
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Many women have lost their lives to this darkness. It's high time we raise awareness, and make maternal mental health screening a part of the routine check ups.
Trigger Warning: This deals with severe postpartum depression, and may be triggering for survivors.
Motherhood is considered a beautiful blessing. Being able to create a new life is indeed beautiful and divine. We have seen in movies, advertisements, stories, everywhere… where motherhood is glorified and a mother is considered an epitome of tolerance and sacrifice.
But no one talks about the downside of it. No one talks about the emotional changes a woman experiences while giving birth and after it.
Calling a vaginal birth a 'normal' or 'natural' birth was probably appropriate years ago when Caesarian births were rare, in an emergency.
When I recently read a post on Facebook written by a woman who had a vaginal birth casually refer to her delivery as a natural one, it rankled.
For too long, we have internalized calling vaginal deliveries ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ deliveries as if any other way of childbirth is abnormal. What about only a vaginal birth is natural? Conversely, what about a Caesarian Section is not normal?
When we check on the health of the mother and baby post delivery, why do we enquire intrusively, what kind of delivery they had? “Was it a ‘normal’ delivery?” we ask.