By Mukhwinder Kaur:
It was during elections when I went to see one of my professors at the university. When I entered his cabin, he greeted me with the words, “What took you so long to visit your old journalism department?” I, with a regular smile on my face, greeted him and said, “I was busy doing my research, sir”. He had a spacious room with Guru Nanak‘s photograph on the front wall. I wondered how a picture in a room could help a human grow his mind. Psychologically, all of us need something to depend upon; may be that was his therapy to regain the power of staying calm and attaining focus.
‘Why is there no ‘Malala’ in India?’ he asked me while instructing a helper for tea, I stayed quiet for some time and thought, why do we need Malala here? We don’t live in a Taliban state, and we are free to study, free to do what we want to. In a meditative gesture, he replied, ‘Do you really think women are free to do whatever they want to do? Then why don’t we have actual women political participation in India? Except a few women leaders who are continually standing for elections, no new candidates are standing- moreover, I have seen that girls do not take much interest in politics; instead, they are more happy with their fashion and household works; in fact politics is not in their nature.” I was speechless for some seconds, and I thought, on what basis was he giving these statements, as I politely asked him later.
He started narrating an experiment he did on two kids – one boy and a girl, he placed a table in front of them, and put a toy gun and some make-up stuff on it. In the next moment, the boy was playing with the gun and the girl had colored her face with lipstick all over it. In an argumentative tone, the professor said, “Why didn’t the boy select the lipstick and the girl, the toy gun?” To that, my simple answer was that children learn from their parents, and when a girl is told by her mother that she is a girl and should behave elegantly and softly, and the guy is told that he is a guy and should not behave like a girl and should behave like a warrior and brave man, then what choice is left with the innocent minds to adapt that ideology?
But my professor didn’t agree, and said that globally, a non-political nature has been adopted by women; but this time I was not satisfied with his words.
After having tea, I took my leave. While I was driving back home, I was recalling the conversation I had with the professor in the morning, I couldn’t just get the answer as to why Indian girls are politically inactive. Two days later, I was sitting in the library when this question again came to my mind, and I started reading the history of various communities existing in the world and suddenly I came across the history of African people. During the era of colonization; England, Canada and America used to import male slaves from Africa and their families in Africa were left with female as their house heads, which, as a result, lead to the women of Africa, like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, head of Liberia, Joyce Banda, president of Malawi’s, and Cathrine Samba-Panzaas became the interim president of the Central African Republic in the recent years. The answer lies in the cultural patterns of the two continents.
When a girl is born in India, the parents say that it’s not their daughter, but a son to them. Why do they compare a daughter to a son? This is the first question that struck my mind. Why, when a son is born, do parents not say that they will keep him like their daughter? They even cheat in what they say initially, that their daughter is their son, as when she starts growing, the mother herself tells her that she is a girl, and should remain within limits. On the contrary, she is forced to learn how to make “aloo ki sabzi” and “gol chappatis”. It’s the mother who fails in the responsibility of making her daughter a real fighter, a real leader. On the contrary, she makes her daughter a “good follower”, who does what she is supposed to, and attains the award of a good daughter, an awesome sister, a tactful wife, a disciplined mother, and the process of manufacturing followers continues.
How can daughters be sons, because when a daughter who wants to access the university library hardly few kilometers away from her house is not allowed to go out just because it was an elections result day? What a ridiculous reason to stop her from doing her work! Her brother, father, and specially the mother, who should second her progressive mind, instead stand on the rigid line formed in their hidebound by default.
One evening, I messaged my professor and told him about the answers I found. After a few minutes, the professor replied:
Professor: Who is Mukhwinder Kaur? A leader or a follower?
Me: I am a born leader.