This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Tradition Of Educating The ‘Mard’ And Its Flipside

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Venkatesh:

Sarita, a 28-year-old-lady, is married to a security guard who guards a commercial complex. Suddenly, one bright morning, she wakes up only to realize that her husband is no more, he died in a road accident the previous night. She has two kids, too little to understand anything that happened to their father. Sarita is illiterate. This has left the family in the invisible hands of our very own God, that too in an unknown city!


Now, unlike the Richie-Richs, the kids in this case don’t have any property to inherit, their father earned a meager 4,000 per month, which at least sufficed their need of bread and butter if not the privilege of playing with toys (Here, as I stress my memory a little, I find myself lucky to get those bats/balls as a kid). Here, the future of kids hovers around darkness, the horizon of darkness that is unknown. The mother being illiterate, the most she can do is work in an unorganized sector, for e.g. she can work as a part-time maid. But when she works, who takes care of her child? This is another problem though. Well, this was fictional, but this indeed is the true picture of millions of households in India in somewhat similar situations, where education is only a dream and if within reach, is only for the ‘Mard’ (as men are referred to in Hindi) of the family. So, while the Mards aspire to become literates, the other gender is left to the hands of her Mard, only to face misery, violence, starvation in her life.

The reason, unfortunately, is our failed realization to honour the importance of educating the often underestimated gender- females (Ironically, in a country where Hindus are in the majority, the female gender itself is hapless, of which Goddess Saraswati happens to be the epitome of knowledge and wisdom). In such a hapless situation, believing in the saying ‘God helps those who help themselves’ appears much more realistic. So, relegating the crown of literacy to the Mard is no Mardangi (masculinity). The ‘Shining’ or ‘Incredible India’ as the different governments proclaim it to be, makes no sense when its shine/incredibility doesn’t touch such households, where the lamp of literacy is itself dark. Rather, it continues to remain an eclipse for them and for the kids like those of Sarita’s, it is only darker, thanks to their kismat or fate.

Each day brings with itself another challenge, that of survival. One can call the situation as ‘Do or Die’ for Sarita. And it indeed is, for no other option is left, she either does things and hence survives, else a miracle in the offering can only save her and the kids at the helm of ‘Kismat’. We should feel lucky to not face such a phase in the early years of our lives. As I read the newspaper daily, I seldom find any day which is devoid of such appalling news. Now, appalling stories like this leave us, jump the guns and quickly criticize the government. It gives rise to another debate, that of ‘Bharat vs. India’ (which indeed cannot be refuted seeing the present scenario). We do have the very right; for India is a democracy (in fact, the world’s largest), to raise our voice, rather vociferously. But at the same time, we have the duty too, to mould our thinking, primarily for ourselves and the society we live in. It is very clear as to what the attitude towards a girl child is, right from her birth, and in the later stages of her life, like marriage or education, in our society. What I am trying to convey is nothing new, leading economists and sociologists have already stressed on the importance of educating a girl child.

Here, I try to state a few of the many reasons as to why it is important to do so. Firstly, there is no just reason to not educate a girl child with the thinking that she ultimately has to be married off (which has been the primary reason for this cause, where saving for dowry has looked more appropriate). Secondly, not educating a girl and leaving her to the Mards’ fate in the future would only lead to situations like the above, where the world can turn upside down in a single day. This also goes for those who are well-off, to make women less dependent on their husbands, which has been the usual case. Thirdly and most importantly, educating a woman fundamentally means educating the whole family. This becomes all the more important seeing the degradation of the moral and cultural values which India often boasts of.

You must be to comment.
  1. Raj

    I agree with your basic premise that everyone should be educated regardless of sex.
    The reason why women weren’t educated is simple : They are not burdened by the society with the task of earning money to support the family. The society didn’t think that “Hey, let’s educate this man because he is a man”. They did so thinking that this man must first become a productive member of society before he can be married off and he can then spend the rest of his life earning for his wife and kids. Since that was traditionally the role of the man, they were educated so they could go out there, earn more money and support more kids. It would be nice to mention this above reason in your article, because you make it seem that men were educated for time-pass and just to oppress women.

  2. Venkatesh

    It is Goddess Saraswati and not Laxmi.Sorry for the unintended mistake.

  3. Neha Jha

    Right! But, even people from well-to-do families do that. Women also seem to have low self-esteem. My aunt has a friend in US who asked some of his friends (female) what would they do if their husbands die/lose jobs in US. The answers were appalling. Most women said its a hypothetical question. Some others said that they will come back to India and live in the village. None of them thought of trying for a job or getting training for that. This is something very ridiculous. I think, parents are to be blamed for it. The society conditions them to not spend so much on girls’ education. My paternal family also thinks the same. Now, that is very frustrating and demeaning.

    1. Raj

      Completely agreed with you! It is appalling that such things are happening. Both men and women must be made to stand on their own. We need to dismantle our tribal mindset

  4. Aishwarya Pandey

    Very Well written Venkatesh.. This is actually very true… Girls should be literate. A literate girl will eventually make her whole family literate.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Sadhana Nazir

By Sakshi Choudhary

By Education Updates

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below