Equality for all

An article by Ashreeta Mohanty

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Many of the developing countries are becoming front runners in economic growth. But economic prosperity does not necessarily imply a healthier unisex society. Ironically in India higher education or reservation of political seats or government jobs of girls does not ensure gender equality or woman empowerment. Even the educated and employed women of higher caste and richer families do not enjoy the liberty of women-hood properly. The income of the family or earning capacity of women is neither necessary nor sufficient condition for transforming gender relation in Indian society.

Religious Imperatives:

A man is the measure of humanity. Man possesses the monopoly power to define, interpret, judge and represent the world on his own terms, while a woman is to be defined, judged and represented by men. The moment a woman crosses the line irrespective of the circumstance, she is trapped.

Social Stereotypes:

We find many varieties of social stereotypes regarding women in India. The common remarks for a single mother are; “Women are responsible for separations. They bring separation by behaving badly. They should suffer for their actions. She has a loose character.” The common notion works in the mind of men that women shouldn’t have left the men despite all adversity and torture. She becomes a product meant for men’s consumption and entertainment. She is of the man, for the man and by the man.

Motherhood is considered the final fulfillment of any woman regardless of her economic status or education level. Infertility is considered a disaster in Indian society. One woman, irrespective of her education, does not approve of the remarriage of a widow. From childhood, boys are encouraged to debate, defy and escape from any responsibility whereas girls are tough to obey, agree, accept, tolerate and remain docile.

Cultural Artefacts:

A woman eating before the man is culturally forbidden. Men eat before women always. Not eating and telling the lies that she is not hungry is considered a positive morale value for women but it is neutral for men. A son’s education is considered an investment. While birth, growth, education or achievements of girls, before marriage, is by accident or luck.

System of Marriage:

Even today more than 60% of marriages in India are arranged by the parents. Men like to marry a potentially employable wife who can earn, if they want at all, not according to the qualification and ambition of the girls. The husband feels insecure if the wife becomes educationally more qualified. The household peace is lost when the wife goes out for earning. The higher education of girls is a problem for both fathers and husbands.

The boy’s father used to say to the girl’s father that “we do not demand anything but you have to maintain the social prestige of your son in law”. And the girl’s father proudly says “I have presented enough hence I’m under heavy loans. Love marriages are also highly risky for girls in India, as the girl does not get the support of parents. Even all working mothers also do not clearly approve their married daughters having ambition for employment. Educated house wives idle and satisfied without much regret. Because for them, the absence of the lady from the house implies family-child-neglect.

Economic Independence:

The greater economic role for women definitely improves their status within and outside the family. However, money is not sufficient condition for transforming gender relation in modern social arder. All wives may be happy in India due to consumerism or loving atmosphere created by the husbands but not a single woman is happy as a human being. She is made to enjoy the luxury of sitting idle and taking care of the children. In search of becoming a happy wife, she loses her status as a woman.

Looking Forward, The Conclusion:

Educational reforms in India should ensure liberation and freedom of thought for all human beings. Both masculine and feminine mentality should change. Gender equality should be implemented in both economical and political sector. Adding women in all the fields is not necessary rather an insight and rethinking of development concept and working as a whole without gender bias is necessary.

The above-mentioned points are not applicable to each and every Indian woman. But these stereotypes still exist in most parts of India and getting ignored since years knowingly or unknowingly. I may sound a bit harsh while choosing my words in explaining the issues but if it can create a small room of improvement in our society it will become my greatest achievement as a woman. This whole thought and retrospect on woman empowerment in this write up is solely inspired from the famous book by Dr. Kumar Das “A happy wife, unhappy woman”. Thank you for reading! 🙂

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