“I want my girl-child to feel less important, submissive, and discriminated against,” said no parent ever. Even then, our society has conditioned us to believe that it is okay to give more importance to a boy’s dreams than a girl’s. Society, at least most of it, believes that the male gender is powerful enough to conquer the moon, while the female gender can wait for their turn to visit the moon as tourists. Having said that, with the growth of radical feminist movements and the advent of new outlooks, gender stereotypes are slowly being broken one at a time. The only way we can succeed at erasing differences entirely is by constantly evolving and opening up our minds to various possible perspectives.
Begin At The Bud
They say that your ideas and views start taking shape right from your childhood days. Kids look up to their parents and learn values such as respect, love and care. As elders, it is our duty to help guide them in the right direction. Every child is intelligent. They adapt to conditions quickly and grasp ideologies smartly. They only lack experience. Hence, while educating your kids, it is important to keep in mind that they believe what they see, and learn from the stories of their parents’ experiences. For instance, if you allow your son to stay out late at night, it is essential that you do the same with your daughter, provided you constantly keep a check on their whereabouts irrespective of their gender. This will encourage your kids to do the same when they grow up, and stand up for what is just and fair at all times.
For example, you can definitely tell your kids about how, you, as a girl child were not given the opportunity to choose your profession. However, you have to show them, through your everyday actions, how important it is to ‘NOT’ discriminate, by treating your kids equally and giving equal opportunities to both genders. Change begins at home, from within the family, and perspectives are shaped from a very young age.
Education: Never An Option
First and foremost, it must be acknowledged that everything begins with education. Without education, it becomes quite difficult to understand how to voice out your opinions, and most importantly, how to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong. For instance, if you want to fight inequality, you need to first be aware of the fact that everyone deserves to be treated equally.
Every child, irrespective of their gender, must be given equal opportunities to receive at least basic education to help them choose the life they want to live. Education will help them understand the world better and further their futuristic goals. It plays a major role in determining the profession of their choice and recognizing the privileges that come along with it. The Indian Constitution guarantees free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of six to fourteen years. Thus, as citizens of this country, it is our duty to abide by the Constitution and make sure that every child has an equal chance of being educated.
Empathy Is The Key
Imagine not having an opinion of your own, not understanding a language, not being able to stand up for yourself. In rural scenarios, it's not too hard to imagine women going through this, because this is the norm there. Education makes a world of difference to us, but even more so to them. Imagine people taking advantage of you because you were not aware of something. Imagine all of these, and then imagine yourself in all of these situations. Not a pleasant sight, is it? Now imagine having to live through it for an entire lifetime. Imagine having to earn lower pay for the same amount of work done. It’s definitely not fair. We have one life. Don’t we all deserve to make the best out of it? Thus, it is our ultimate duty to constantly strive for the welfare of all humankind. We need to help make each other’s lives better in every way possible because if we don’t, then who will?
When Equality Knocks, Say YES!
Equality is a right, not a privilege. The minute we recognize and work towards this, the world becomes a better place to live in. Equal opportunity for everyone, is it that difficult? No, it isn’t. Like Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.
Work with NGOs to help elevate the lives of people from rural communities. Teach underprivileged kids in your free time. Promote ideologies that support these causes. Stand up for what is right and be confident in voicing your opinions. Demand for equal pay at the workplace. In addition to all this, make sure that no girl or woman lacks opportunities because of her gender.
If we consider a scenario such as the COVID-19 global pandemic, instances have highlighted the advantages of having women leaders at the forefront. Female leaders in places such as New Zealand, Taiwan and Iceland have been recognised for their effective strategies in resisting the ill effects of the pandemic. From undertaking preventive measures to contain the spread of the virus, to incorporating compassionate and transparent communication strategies, several women have set an example for the coming generations to follow.
The Sparkle Effect
Even today, millions of girls and women from rural communities miss up to 50-60 days of school or work every year because they cannot afford menstrual hygiene products. Brands such as Sparkle, aim to curb inequalities such as these in every sphere of society. Every time you purchase a Sparkle pad, the brand donates a pad to a girl in need. When adolescent girls have access to sanitary napkins, they can participate in school, engage socially and carry out daily activities with dignity. Similarly, all of us can come up with our own ways of helping those in need.