India is one of the developing nations in the entire world economy. There are many hurdles that do come across during this race of development. GENDER DISCRIMINATION is an important factor involved in the formation of this hurdle. Of the many factors that hinder development, gender inequality is one of the core issues that has been highlighted for ages. This is not something new to us, but history is replete with cases of this inequality in many different ways.
In areas, where there is no reach of light, let us throw some right bright light of equality. Equality for the girl whose birthday was the reason behind her family having a gloomy day. Or be it for the girl who likes to play with a blue-colored toy car. Even for the girl who disliked cooking but enjoyed playing gully cricket. Equality is for everyone irrespective of the gender difference to which a person belongs to.
Constitution of India on equal rights
The Indian Constitution provides equal rights and privileges for both men and women but still the majority of women across India cannot enjoy these rights and opportunities that are guaranteed to them. Even after the Constitution helping the girls to grow: they are more likely to experience restrictions of their freedom and mobility. While the laws of Independent India are robust giving women a safety net, it is unfortunate that Gender Equality is still an issue. In 2018, India topped in the Unsafe Countries for Women list bringing a national shame which the citizens and the leaders most gladly shrugged off. We should at every walk of life make a conscious effort to bring Gender Equality into existence.
How females are portrayed?
In India, females are imagined doing household chores, taking care of her child, or helping her in-laws. Even when you tell a teenager to imagine a picture of a female, they won’t imagine her as a pilot or as an athlete. Imagination is also restricted to the boundaries of her house. Living in 2020, we will have great challenges to fight for her. She needs to explore what the world holding for her. Things that her family might even fail giving her. She needs that respect what the outer world may give her.
The traditional value system, low level of literacy, more household responsibilities lack of awareness, non-availability of proper guidance, low mobility, lack of self-confidence, family discouragement, and advanced science and technology are some of the factors responsible to create gender disparity in our society.
Recently, the paradox that makes women suffer through this discrimination is present in every leaf of her life. For example, in the workplace inequality takes a high flight, when it comes to paying salary to all the women employees present in a firm. Women are paid less than Men, despite however hard they try. This might sound to you all as a feminist ranting about equality but this a bitter hard truth of society.
Women and festivals
Festivals like Diwali and Navratri, where you worship the female god and on the other side, you treat your daughter brutally by not sending her to schools. Such a controversial society we all live in. Ramayana and Mahabharat, our ancient tales are stories related to gender discrimination. Tell me, when you were a small munchkin did your mom instructed you “Don’t sit like this”, “Dress like this” or “laugh softly”. Society has proposed infinite terms and conditions to a girl’s life just like a LIC company launching a new scheme.
The birth of a girl child
The birth of a girl is still considered a bad omen in some dark places in India. We have been listening to stories that a father suffered huge losses in his business after a girl was born to her family. Like I pity these families because of negative thoughts they had just because a girl was born. A girl is still considered to be a burden for her family. She is still treated as a liability. A family who considers female birth as a burden, are itself a heavy burden to this humanity.
They are the ones who planned for female foeticide but alas could not go for it, they already have two different mindsets; one for her and other for her elder brother. They won’t send her to school, won’t allow her to go out of the house and as soon she will attain 18, they will start hunting for a perfect match. She dreamt of being a doctor so she could serve the country, but now she ends up serving her husband and her new family. They killed her dreams, aspirations, and everything she wanted. Then dowry issues and domestic violence pops out.
Insensitivity towards women exposes them to rapes, stalking, threats, unsafe atmosphere at workplaces and roads due to which achieving gender equality in India has become a tough task. Let’s not get into all these crime related issues and to be honest, they are simply rusted to this developing nation. The weight of her new bangles is much more to what she had in her appearance at her previous better home. The weight of her newlywed bangles seized away everything that she could feel.
Gender Inequality towards males
A wide spectrum says Gender inequality isn’t only a women’s issue. It is also an issue towards males as well. They are expected to be firm and strong to prove that they are more physically and emotionally stronger than females in all aspects. People usually don’t see men as the ones who are struggling from the age when they lost their football. They were taught not to cry like girls and control the turmoil of emotions they had inside them. Like seriously how can you just link emotion to a gender. Emotions are something open for all. We all have gone through bad and good times in every stage of our life and we have the right to express it. But gender takes away all the thunder of the rights she has on expressing herself.
When you were little did you dream to become an astronaut or a civil engineer? But as soon as you grew up and got familiar to the unfolded black gender mysteries of the male-dominated society. Were your dreams folded? And then you decided to be a teacher. It’s like society took a truck on the dreams you saw.
History of India
Our history shows female freedom fighters like Rani Lakshmi bai, Sarojini Naidu, and many more. Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space. Let’s not go so far, our own Smriti Irani, Lt. Sushma Swaraj, and current finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman have proved themselves and made everyone proud by the decisions they took. In the local level daughter of a tea seller in Madhya Pradesh is the newly appointed Indian Air Force Pilot and scholars in many board and state levels exams have been girls.
In sports, P.V. Sindhu, Mary Kom, and Saina Nehwal have brought laureates to the nation. By citing all the above examples, I don’t mean to portray males as inferior ones. But, I want to emphasize that if females are given the same opportunities and lease from society, they can do wonders in every cloud of this society. Women’s empowerment can be seen as an economic boon to the nation. Some Indian women are global leaders and powerful voices in diverse fields. However, most women and girls in India do not fully enjoy many rights due to deeply entrenched patriarchal views, norms, traditions, and structures.
The need for a strong social structure
Broad-minded parents are the need of the hour. In India, we have fathers who even allow their only single girl child to go out of the town and explore what her dreams hold for her. Indeed, what society wanted him to do, he went against it, all the odds, and made her daughter happy, by fulfilling her wishes. Such parents are a blessing to the nation and are helping aid in making an asset for the entire country. So, behind a successful female, there is a broad-minded father who did not pay heed to what narrow-minded chunks said to him but he prioritized his concepts.
In NITI Aayog’s first report on sustainable development goals, all states, barring Kerala and Sikkim, are blacklisted on gender equality. The government is also playing a key role in taking action towards the betterment of women’s living in the community. In Chhattisgarh, the Government launched the Sarswati cycle yojana, which gave wheels to girl education. The national program Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, scheme launched with initial funding of 100 crores. This scheme played a major role in stopping female foeticide. It also gives better lives to the girls in rural setup and household.
For India to maintain its significant position as a global leader, more concerted efforts at local and national levels, and by the private sector are needed to bring women to parity with men.
Importance of Education and Awareness
Educating Indian children from an early age about the importance of gender equality could be a meaningful start in that direction. Make them understand, how each and every life on this planet matters. Childhood is the best age when and where we can inculcate moral values in their sky of learning. Awareness among mediocre citizens is a stress-buster in this situation of gender inequality. The changes should start from eradicating the differentiation between the colors and toys, household responsibilities, and career, only then can the mindset of society change. We are a community. And, when we change our thinking process, our country will enjoy the fruits of equality. All girls, especially adolescent girls, need platforms to voice the challenges they face in everyday life and look into the solution that works for them so they can build better societies.
A recent study showed that Society is coming out this gender inequality. It will take time and this is a long-term change. But eventually, we will come out of these vicious cycles of inequality. Soon our lives won’t revolve around differentiating between the two genders. After all, life is much more, about the thing which society created. God created Sex to show the biological differences between his creations but what society created is skateboard to his terms. Why should society have this term? In society, why is there a need to create social differences between the things which God created, like in social perspectives? Life in a rural setup needs to rise above, rise above the social differences which society made. Urban sectors are now giving up this idea of inequality and are trying to make better conditions for females.
Last, let’s not only make things better for her but better for everyone who is a part of this society. Everyone in this society has the right to freedom and expressing themselves. A rant came out to be popular, every hard-working woman, a woman living her life on her own terms says, “We are not more special than men. We are SAME as men”. And that is what is GENDER EQUALITY.
The need of the hour is to make a change in the mindset of society and destroy the prejudices that damage the future of the girl child. What is required is a concerted effort to sensitize the society in eradicating this issue of gender inequality. It is high time that every child is treated equally. They must be given every opportunity required to grow to his/her full potential.
This discussion is not about finding everything a man or woman can do or the other way. It is about giving and respecting both gender differences and behaviors. We see in many cases that women won’t get a good education or they are denied their rights. This discussion will help both the family and women to understand their rights. Not only for women, but men are also judged. This is seen when they choose or break their role in society, like choosing a variety of careers. This needs correction too.
Finally, gender equality means respecting and treating all gender equally. Today, an ever-increasing number of activists and social researchers trust that mandatory sexual orientation sensitization workshops for different city specialists, including the police and the legal, is a standout amongst the hugest routes towards accomplishing a change in outlook in mentality and conduct. Perhaps, we can at least dream of a society in the course of the future who does not treat people of different gender differently.
To all the narrow-minded people of this society who believe that women should stay home, they are wrong. Dreaming and fulfilling those dreams are not confined to a particular gender. They can go out and accomplish whatever their heart wants. It’s important that we are equal, men and women have the same access to everything, the same pay, and the same opportunities
Chandini Golechha | D.Y. Patil University, Navi Mumbai