Thursday January 17, 2019
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Gender Equality: When will women be treated on par with men?

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Gender Equality
Photo courtesy :wheatandtares.org

By Shriya Katoch

Equality of the sexes has become a far fetched concept . All over the world women are expected to be the epitome of perfection. However we are the same as men ,facing the same trials of life ,yet we are expected to adopt holier than thou attitude .

Why the hypocrisy?
Why are we expected to fulfill such unachievable standards ?
We have the right to make the same mistakes as men .
We have the right to make decision about our own body .
We have the right to the same respect as men .

Yet we are denied all that. According to UN ,it will take 75 years before women can be expected to be payed the same as men for the same work.15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children  and it will take us 70 years before all rural african girls can have secondary education.

As light over the recently celebrated women’s day fades, the gender disparity is still visible . Women empowerment is a critical aspect of gender equality.It consists of uplifting women and providing them with the same social ,economic and political freedom that men enjoy . To this date no country in the world can say that they have achieved gender egalitarianism.
Somehow gender equality in today’s world is considered as a women’s issue , and the women associated with it are coined as feminists .They are conceived to be aggressive,isolating and even unattractive. People are choosing not to identify themselves as feminists in the danger of sounding unattractive .

However the sad reality is that gender equality is not a women’s issue , it involves men too. It is the relationship between them .Men and women together are imprisoned by social restrictions. If men are not compelled to dominate to be accepted , women inturn won’t be compelled to submit.

Men are made insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male progress . We don’t see this but men don’t have the benefit of gender equality either.It is time that gender equality becomes a man’s issue as well.It is time we view feminism as humanism .
It is time that both men and women feel free to be sensitive as well as strong ,without being judged.As said by UN Goodwilll Ambassador “It is time we start viewing gender as a spectrum rather than two sets of opposing ideals.”

Often we hear chauvinistic statements made by men and women alike .Unfettered statements like “man up” or “stop crying like a girl ” abets acts of sexism .

These statements are engrained in our minds and we don’t realize that we have inadvertently become sexists. Gender sensitization can be a solution to all and hopefully we will be growing towards a society where men and women alike are not bounded by societal restrictions and are free to live life in their own terms.

Shriya Katoch multitasks as an Engineering student , an avid reader ,a guitar player and a death note fan.

  • Ria Katoch

    Its soo true. Being branded as feminist does bring down the attractive quotient in man’s eyes thus making a woman reluctant about coming out as one.

  • Arpit Gupta

    I think, talking about gender discrimination is not wrong but no one can blame only men for this. If we are in a condition where we need to make people’s conscience awake so that we can give women, the rights which are already with men, then it’s the time for women to begin with the revolution. If women need the change, they will have to change their attitude first.

    • Shriya Katoch

      We are not playing the blame game here . I talked about how men and women alike are imprisoned by restrictions . I think you are completely wrong about how women alone need to start a revolution to have equal rights and how they need to change their “attitude”. i would suggest you to read the article and again and think more deeply on the issue.

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  • Ria Katoch

    Its soo true. Being branded as feminist does bring down the attractive quotient in man’s eyes thus making a woman reluctant about coming out as one.

  • Arpit Gupta

    I think, talking about gender discrimination is not wrong but no one can blame only men for this. If we are in a condition where we need to make people’s conscience awake so that we can give women, the rights which are already with men, then it’s the time for women to begin with the revolution. If women need the change, they will have to change their attitude first.

    • Shriya Katoch

      We are not playing the blame game here . I talked about how men and women alike are imprisoned by restrictions . I think you are completely wrong about how women alone need to start a revolution to have equal rights and how they need to change their “attitude”. i would suggest you to read the article and again and think more deeply on the issue.

Next Story

‘Daughter’s Pride Festival’: Celebrating India’s Daughters

It will need a lot of perseverance to achieve women's empowerment, says Jaglan, but the hope is that the names of girls being displayed outside doors will herald a brighter future for girls.

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India, Names
There is excitement in Patuka village in Haryana state as a man heads out to put nameplates with daughters' names on several homes. VOA

There is a sense of excitement in India’s Patuka village — adults and children look curiously as signs with the names of daughters are hammered outside several homes. It is a novelty in a village where patriarchal mindsets have long held sway.

As Mubin Sumssu poses proudly with his family after the name of his 14-year-old daughter is posted outside his gate, he envisions a new future for her. “I hope she studies well, progresses in life, does a good job and makes a name for herself.”

This is not the life that girls can traditionally aspire to in this Muslim-dominated village, which lies in one of the country’s most backward districts in the northern Haryana state. Many girls do not complete school and their lives revolve around household chores and looking after siblings from an early age. Most are married off young.

The nameplate campaign, called “Daughter’s Pride Festival,” hopes to make a difference by persuading village families to treat girls on par with boys. The aim: Names of girls plastered outside doors will carry the winds of change inside homes that continue to be ruled firmly by men.

The head of the village council is a 23-year-old woman, Anjum Aara — laws mandating female participation in local bodies have brought women like her to prominence. More educated than most girls in the village, Aara has been emphasizing the importance of educating girls since she came to Patuka after her marriage.

She is optimistic that the latest campaign will raise consciousness about the need to empower women. “It will make people understand that the daughter is the identity of the family,” Aara said. “They will be inspired to educate girls. Those with negative thinking about this will become more positive.”

Patriarchal mindsets

It is not an easy goal in places where women traditionally never had a voice. One village woman approached by a reporter for her reaction to the campaign refused to speak without her husband’s permission. The girls whose names have appeared outside homes are shy and appear to have limited understanding about its significance.

India, Names
Some families in Patuka village in Haryana state are posting nameplates of their daughters as part of a campaign that aims to change patriarchal attitudes and empower women. VOA

Nonetheless, the man spearheading the campaign, Sunil Jaglan, is optimistic that such steps will slowly usher in social transformation. The nameplate campaign is part of a model he followed in his village, Bibipur, when he was its head. It has now been adopted by the government in scores of villages.

Jaglan says it is not easy to persuade men to put their daughters’ names outside homes in villages with deeply entrenched customs.

He points out that virtually no women get a share of parental property despite laws granting them equal rights. Terming the campaign a “mind-strike,” Jaglan says that “this is a symbol to make people understand that putting the man’s name is not enough. The woman also lives there. She also has an equal stake in the home, in the property, in the village.”

The initiative cuts across religious communities in a country where patriarchal mindsets prevail among both the majority Hindu community and minority Muslims.

India, Names
Many families in Alipur village in Haryana state are now educating young girls, and say they will treat them on par with boys. VOA

About 20 kilometers down a road that cuts through fields blooming with the golden mustard crop, 25 out of 700 homes in another village boast of nameplates with their daughters’ names. Alipur is more prosperous, but traditional mindsets rule here as well — women automatically cover their heads when they see men.

Skewed gender ratio

In this Hindu-dominated village, the campaign is addressing another challenge: a skewed gender ratio. In Alipur, as in thousands of other villages, the number of girls dwindled in recent decades due to illegal sex-selective abortions. The practice, known as female foeticide, has flourished in a society that traditionally prefers boys.

Nobody knows that better than Mahesh Jangra, whose home flashes the name of his 10-year-old daughter, Dipti. Growing up in Alipur, he saw many more boys than girls in his village. But he says the imbalance has brought an awakening.

“Now people realize that who will the boys marry if there are no girls?” Jangra said. “First everyone gave priority to sons, now we want to treat sons and daughters equally and put the daughter’s name ahead.”

That is why he willingly put his daughter’s name outside his door, instead of that of his 15-year-old son.

India, Names
Many women in Alipur village in Haryana state keep their head covered, as tradition demands. VOA

So far it is the more affluent families like that of Jangra that have opted to post their daughters’ names. But as they are usually the trendsetters in the village, the hope is that others will follow suit.

Komal Kalonia, a 19-year-old college student, is one of the few girls who has received a good education. She says her family did not need any persuasion to put her name outside. Kalonia feels the nameplate will send a message.

“When a passerby sees this, it will encourage them to do the same and take their thinking a step ahead,” she said.

As such campaigns make a mark, the state’s gender ratio has improved from 834 girls for 1,000 boys, according to the 2011 census, to 914 last year.

Also Read: The Risk of FGM Hangs Above British Schoolgirls During Holiday Break

It will need a lot of perseverance to achieve women’s empowerment, says Jaglan, but the hope is that the names of girls being displayed outside doors will herald a brighter future for girls.

“I cannot say everybody’s mindset has changed. But if families agree happily, then the message we are giving through these nameplates will ultimately percolate down.” (VOA)