Abeera elucidates the concept of gender equality and the lacunae in it’s implementation. It highlights the plight of men and women, due to gender based violence and suppressive notions, and how the need to stride over the same becomes increasingly integral.
Why did she as a child thought that only men worked in offices? Because her school textbooks always showed office picture with a male sitting in the cabin.
Why did she think kitchen was women’s business? Because the ad breaks between movies always showed women concerned with stains on utensils.
Why did she think she was lesser than her brother physically? Because each year on Raksha Bandhan she tied a Rakhi on her younger brother’s hand to protect her.
Why did she think a million other things that abet Gender Inequality?
Because that’s how it works. Isn’t it?
Gender inequality, in simple terms, can be defined as prejudicial treatment of an individual due to perceived differences based solely on gender. It is an effect of deep – seated patriarchy and a feeling, that is so innate to us, that we have forgotten to question its discernibly discriminatory settings. A wrongly held notion, though, is that it is a women’s issue, while it is a matter of much concern for men too. Patriarchy, in fact, can turn out to be more harmful for men than women in the long run.
Such can be substantiated by research studies, which have shown the societal pressure to be aggressive and to not reveal vulnerabilities can have negative affects on men. According to statics by the Centre for Disease Control, suicide is four times higher among men than it is women. Since the mid-1990s, around 300,000 Indian farmers have killed themselves—a rate of about one every 30 minutes. A farmer is an inherent victim of the ideology, where he finds himself helpless if he is not able to provide for his family.
Experiences shared by men and boys, such as being ridiculed for asking for parental leave, or suffering homophobic bullying for trying to stand up to lad culture, revealed the damage gender stereotypes do, not just to women, but to everybody.
Patriarchy refers to the rule of eldest male in the family. Kamla Bhasin, female rights activist and social scientist calls it male dominance and further adds that it is a social system like caste, class . which is equally damaging.
Patriarchy, therefore, has two parts :
- Firstly, it is a structure, which is noticeable in our day-to-day lives, like, the child who gets father’s name, etc.
- Secondly, it’s a thought process which is so acutely imprinted in our systems, that we hardly pay any heed to the biasness prevailing around us. This can include the ad break of a toilet cleaner showing a house wife bothered about the marks, or the item songs we chiefly enjoy.
Patriarchy is tied with power, which is of a male member of the family. This inequality leads to violence. Gender violence is brutality done on the basis of sex of a person. According to UN, one out of every three women in the world face violence, which equals to one billion women facing violence.
Gender violence can also include mental violence. Men, sadly, are as much the victims of mental violence as the women. Men have to live up to an image of superiority created by patriarchy. They can neither cry nor blush as those are taught to be the tasks of the females. Getting caged inside the house to caging your own emotions – both are cases of violence and suppression.
Gender equality is a human right – it is bringing men and women on the same platform. It can be achieved only after questioning our most ardent traditions. Traditions like Kanya Dana, in which the father hands over all his rights and duties towards his daughter to her prospective groom are against the notion of equality. In a age where we are fighting for equal pay for men and women, we are happily performing this ritual treating women as commodity passing from father’s hands to the husband’s.
Though the inequality and beliefs are still hugely prevalent, it would be wrong to assume that there hasn’t been some change in the world. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, selecting equal number of males and females in his cabinet, and stating that it’s important to have a cabinet in Canada which looks like Canada, is a right step in the right direction. The Border Security Force of India employing women, is another thing to be proud of.
Therefore, the need of the hour is to develop substantial sensitization as to the cause of gender equality. Gender inequality progenates gender based violence, which subjects the men or the women concerned to subjugation and oppression. An equal status of both men and women, thereby, becomes an integral factor to efficiently implement the human rights conferred and step closer to the development of the nation in the true sense.