Written Diptarko Paul (Weloquent)
Growing up, I was always given precedence over my younger sister at home. More food, because apparently, I needed to build muscles, and more money to spend on books in hopes I’d get a rewarding job after school. However, school was different. My class teacher would tell us stories of the first female pilot who flew across the world, Amelia Earhart and of Kadambini Ganguly, one of the first two female doctors of India, who contributed significantly in the area of female health and hygiene. Sitting in her classes, I would daydream of an equal world for my sister, one where her dreams were given as much importance as mine.
However, post graduation from college, I realised unfortunately that in the real world, my traditional home environment was more common than that of my classroom. Despite my sister’s qualifications, her first promotion was delayed simply because of the fact that the other candidate was a male. This incident made me realize how much awareness we need to spread to break gender-biases across the world so that women can live as independently as men do today.
The following are some ways in which we can do our bit, in making our immediate environment equitable for all:-
Understand its Effects
First of all, you have to understand how gender stereotypes and biases can affect you, your sisters, mother and friends on a daily basis. There are many household chores that are considered to be “fit for girls” - like cooking, washing dishes and doing the laundry, and boys tend to shrug off these responsibilities thinking that it isn’t their duty. However, there are no such demarcations when it comes to chores - we must rise above these narrow views and give a helping hand whenever and wherever possible.
Our country has a rich history and legacy where females have been positioned as pivotal characters along with the mythical sages and kings. We must read of the roles and lives of inspirational characters such as Lakshmibai and Anandi Gopal Joshi - who fought for themselves and their land. Similarly, the common prejudices and taboos associated with characters like Apala, Urvasi and Rambha should also be studied so that we understand the direction of progress and move towards creating societal cultures that are more acceptable to both genders.
Aspire for Equality
If one section of the community continues to fight for itself without any help from the other, the fight for equality and a better future will continue to be elusive. In every step of our daily experiences we have to push towards a more practical approach and stop associating tasks with genders to achieve full potential of every individual.
It is as normal for girls to play with Hot Wheels cars as it is for boys to build doll houses, and the sooner we accept that - the faster we will be able to build a better world. Only if we all dream it, can we do it. Remembering Nelson Mandela’s words - “Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all kinds of oppression.”
Don’t Underestimate Anybody
In every team of passionate cricketers, hides a Jhulan Goswami, and every friendly wrestling match, hides a Vignesh Phogat. To get them out of their hiding places and encourage them to shine, we must boost them with confidence, instead of underestimating their potential. Female athletes around the world have proven time and again that gender barriers are only holding back the true potential of women, especially so in our country. Sometime next weekend consider watching Chak De India! with your family, and learn how women can conquer every sports ar, if we only let them.