In Focus 5th July, 2016

Equal Opportunities – What if….

As I mentioned in one of the previous blog posts in this series, Haryana is one of the worst affected states (in India) for gender-biased sex selection. Deep conditioning on discrimination against women, preference for sons, viewing daughters as a financial burden, and easy access to diagnostic technologies – all this led to a situation where sex-ratio in Haryana was 879 females per thousand males (According to 2011 Census). And of course, the status of women is extremely shameful.

A lot of girls are sent to government schools while their brothers are sent to private schools. Girls are made to drop out of schools because educating girls does not seem to be a good investment, and they are made to marry early so that they become someone else’s burden and responsibility. This, in turn, further makes them financially dependent, and vulnerable – sexually and otherwise.

In the course of my field visits, I have seen and met women in Haryana. In a room full of men and women, the women sit in a segregated space (sometimes with their kids), with their face covered. They mostly listen while the men speak. Though what I find ironical is the fact that when one speaks to the women, they are very forthcoming and eager to talk. But most of them only speak when spoken to. It saddens my heart to think that many of them would have had the potential to do something in terms of a career, but they probably never got the chance, choice or say.

Keeping these thoughts in mind, our third and fourth episodes of Taaron Ki Toli on IVRS Radio were focused on equal opportunities for girls and boys. We talked about how parents play the biggest role in providing equal opportunities to girls and how the government provides support for girls’ education. In both these episodes, we spoke to Jai Bhagwan Khatak, ex-Deputy Education Officer, Panipat, and he encouraged parents to educate their girls so that they can become independent, self sufficient and can support their families. He also talked about the various schemes that Haryana Government has to offer for girls to pursue higher studies and create opportunities for themselves.

Do listen to these episodes here and share your comments.

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