Now that am a mother to a daughter I greatly ponder on the irony of society where she is a goddess yet confined under four walls. She is supposed to work round the clock, serve everyone and yet there’s no one to serve her. If someone does, it is either help or surprise but it is by default her responsibility. In a structure where both men and women are working, she will come back home and serve family while man will rest or barely contribute to household chores or if he does he will be applauded hundred times and will be awarded best husband award. No matter how well a girl is in her career, her identity prevails on how good she’s in kitchen. Right from the beginning, parents are hesitant to spend on girls education for obvious reason that one day she will be married off then why not to save for her wedding. Inequality begins right from the birth, I remember when I gave birth to my daughter, all the nurses around were pacifying me “oh it’s okay, she’s your first born, next time try for a boy” , I reckon most of the people who came and meet us has just one thing to say “ Next time, boy” No, I didn’t ask for your sympathy am supremely happy for the birth of my daughter and I love her irrespective of her gender, she’s healthy and that’s the only thing I ever prayed for. Girls are always conditioned right from childhood to how to behave, sit, talk or dress. Parents don’t dress their sons in anything pink, frilly or glittery because that’s girly but girls can pick from a boys section because that’s gender neutral, society where“Neutral” itself is a male. Patriarchy has shaped our society very deep that it is now ingrained that women who wears short clothes are floozy, if she talks loud subjected as ballsy, if she wants to be working after marriage; seeks permission, if she wants to go out with friends late; slut. We as women have given so much authority to others to make our decisions, we are either asking or tagged if we don’t act as per society’s standard of an ideal girl. She always has to seek permission or validation/approval from parents then in-laws/husband and if God forbid something wrong happens she is so scared for speaking for herself because she has always been taught to adjust and over the years it ingrained in her conscious that it is “normal” for a girl to be submissive.
As per survey women are twice more likely to depression than men and gender inequality being one of the major cause of that. It starts rooting from childhood; biased behaviour between a brother and a sister, unequal access to education, toys, food, clothes, facilities, affection from family and even skin colour; fair skinned girls are beautiful but dark is ugly. Few days back, a video was making rounds on internet about how our textbooks refers artificial or manufactured as “man-made” which implies woman but doesn’t get the acknowledgment. Gradually girls bound with such inequality starts thinking herself less of a boy and vice versa, which further encourage eve-teasing, dowry in name of gifts, sexual/physical/mental abuse, subjecting woman as “property/liability” and it is never ending.
Change begins at home and only mothers ( who is a woman herself) can bring the change, women needs to be educated not just to bring ration for the family and tutor her kids but to make the change in society, as a mother she needs to teach her boys to be gentle, emotional and contribute equally at home because that’s the way of existence and to educate her kids that your gender doesn’t make you any special, irrespective of your gender you have to go out and earn because that’s how we earn livelihood and come back home make your house a place to live, cook for yourself because that’s existence. A woman will not come to take care of your house, clothes, foods and kids. God has created every one equal with different responsibilities but we have created the difference. Education does create awareness but it doesn’t teach moral values it entirely begins at home, I have seen doctors, lawyers or highly qualified men abusing their wives, daughter/ in law and creating a false sense of values which only promote more difference between a man and a woman. The responsibility is of a woman to take charge of what is wrong, stand and support other women and create equality not as per their convenience.
I would conclude above in a beautiful shabad* by Gurunak Dev Ji*-
Bhand mangan vee-aaho.
Bhanda-ho hovai dos-tee
bhanda-hu cha-lai raahu.
Bhand mu-aa bhand bhaalee-ai
bhand hovai ban- dhaan.
So ki-o man-daa aakhee-ai jit ja-meh raa jaan.
Bhanda- ho hee bhand oop-jai, bhandai baajh na ko-ay.
Translation as followed :-
From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married.Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come.When woman dies he seeks another woman to woman he is bound.So why call her bad. From her, kings are born?From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.
Guru Nanak ji made a radical call not just for gender equality but for empowerment for a rightful place in society. Five hundred years ago women have made stride to own their power equally yet sadly there’s a huge difference between aspiration and reality.
*Shabad- holy recitation literally, sound currents which vibrates in every living being spiritually. *Guru Nanak Dev ji- was the founder of shikhism. *Bhand- has been figuratively used for woman not literally.