Returning from my office in the metro one evening, I overheard a conversation between a woman and her daughter that left me shaken about the condition of gender discrimination in India.
“Ladkiyon ko khelna nahi chaiye, ghar sambhalna chaiye”, said the woman.
“Kyoun, bhai bhi to khelta hai”, the daughter snapped back.
“Par wo to ladka hai na”, replied the mom.
A rather simple and common conversation this. That notwithstanding, my heart was filled with anguish for the girl’s mother who herself was a woman and at the same time, I felt pity for the little soul who was too young to understand the reason why a girl and boy are treated differently. At that very moment, I felt like shouting at the woman but something stopped me from doing so. Even when I got back home, I couldn’t forget the conversation. “Par wo to ladka hai na” words kept echoing in my ears even the next morning when I got up to get ready for office.
A lot of questions were arising in the sea of thought. What gender discrimination in India means for the society? What young generation thinks about gender discrimination? Does it really exist in the modern society where government and society are doing lots of work to fade this gap between male and female? So, just to lighten my heart, I decided to speak to few of my colleagues.
When I reached office and talked to my colleague about gender discrimination in India. Some of the answers were really interesting and some of them still believing in the old thought of gender inequalities. A young mind told me the correct definition of gender discrimination. He stated that Discrimination based on gender or sex in various forms like sexual harassment, unequal pay for women doing the same job as men, pregnancy determination and unequal opportunity for the male and female child in the family etc can be summed as discrimination or inequality between genders. But the discussion could not be completed.
During lunch break as we all sat down to gorge on food after tiring work schedule, I broke the silence by asking a simple question “How many of you agree that girls are meant only for household work?”. Living in a metro city and working in a multinational company, I was 100% sure the answer would be “NO ONE”. But to my dismay, some people agreed with the fact that women are meant only for household chores while few others strongly opposed this opinion. This led to a soul-searching discussion which though left me a bit shattered but definitely helped me to probe a bit deeper into the causes of discrimination of women in society. Through the discussion and my own research on gender discrimination, I have jolted down a few key points that may be of interest:
The first and foremost cause that leads to discrimination in India is the mental makeup. As said by one of my colleague” Women are the best fit for homes”, this statement is enough to show that even with so much of technological and educational advancement, the mental status of people in India hasn’t changed much. This could be attributed to the social stigma attached to women that their responsibility is only to give birth and take care of the family.
The second cause may be that we live in a male-dominated society, where men take all the decisions and women just have to accept everything silently. From bread earning to running the house, a man is the sole decision maker. Even in the 21st century many women still don’t have any say in decisions pertaining to themselves. From marriage to starting a family- it’s the man who dictates and the woman just follows.
During the discussion, one of my good friends clearly pointed out that lack of education is the root cause of all evils and I truly agree with it. Most women in India are unaware of their rights because they are illiterate. For a woman to properly exercise her right, she first needs to know about it. Education is the first step in that direction.
Many women would question- is education enough to fight the evil of gender discrimination that is so deep rooted in India. The answer is NO. Education is a start but if we really want to put an end to this evil then we need to change ourselves, our mindset and harmful beliefs that we have been living with. Advocating for education and equal opportunities for women is not enough. In fact, we need to be the channels and mediums for new reforms and campaigns for empowering the women in India.