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3 Things Women And Men Can Do Personally To Fight Inequality Against Women

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By Anesa Kratovac:

It is quite difficult to not be influenced by the state of the world, be it from the negative news coming from the media or impressions of problems in our own communities. The helplessness we feel in those moments comes from the feelings that we are powerless to do anything about these issues- that they are bigger than us and solving them has been attempted by many others throughout decades and centuries. I must say that this is furthest from the truth. That ubiquitous belief alone has hindered progress and has shaped the state of the world today.

WOMEN

Helplessness means defeat. Opposite of helplessness is being proactive. There are decisions each one of us could make that could have wide-ranging ripple effects. If each person did his or her share to live in accordance to the change he or she wants to see, most of our world problems would cease. From individual, to group to society, all change is ignited by individual agents with a passion to make a difference.

This brings me to women’s issues in India. All around me, I see empowered young women and men who are conscious of the gender issues prevailing in their country, but feel very discouraged about the lack of progress in making gender equality a reality. Although we tend to believe that it is the numerous advocacy groups, the government, the non-profits and the media that will be at the forefront to making a difference and altering cultural attitudes, we forget to realize that we ourselves are the most powerful agents of influence on those around us (peer pressure should be owned and made a positive thing).

Instead of wishing, hoping and waiting for the oppressors and the cultural traditionalists to change their minds, we could start with our own agency and ask ourselves what we can do in our lives to reflect those changes that we want to see.

For women, there are numerous ways they can do this. Here, I am offering my own three suggestions in ways this can be done to influence others and promote gender equality:

1) Use storytelling to capture others. The power of storytelling is a marketing strategy used worldwide by organizations to capture the attention of donors and mainstream media. By telling stories, others feel empathy to your cause and could get inspired to think and act in a manner sympathetic to its message. If you know of a story where a woman was demoted because of gender, bring it up, talk to others, express your views, write about it in a blog; discussion will reach others more personally than any news-story will. Be “the media” and spread awareness of issues “you” care about.

2) Be the type of woman you admire. Do you admire a female scientist, politician, novelist, painter or public figure? Then, project the qualities that make this woman great on daily basis. Don’t settle for anything less than that. Be unique and follow your own voice. This type of a person made a difference in the world when others were too busy living prescribed lives planned by their parents and their societies. You owe yourself and your country to be an agent of change, so start today and embody the woman that you admire most; be an example to other girls! In this way, you will do your big part to make India a country that you can be proud of.

3) Defy gender impositions. Gender is a culturally created standard that we are conditioned to adapt to and follow as we grow up. Sure, men and women have different physiologies (are of different sexes), but our views on the relations between them, on the type of behaviour each should have, and the place of both in the society are purely culturally made up and imposed. Think of a society that to you is a utopia. How are women treated in this society? What would your role be? What kind of life would you lead? Even if this is an imagined day-dream, use the premise of this as a guide to the type of life towards which you’d aspire; your imagination is not trickery but a vision of your unique truth and conscious/subconscious desires (your heart is speaking to you). Do your part to challenge others’ expectations of you and give them glimpses of the vision you have for yourself as something that cannot be taken away from you at all costs.

Men, especially young men, have a large role to play in making their country a safer and more equal place for women (their mothers, sisters, cousins, friends, girlfriends and wives). Indeed, gender equality concerns men as much as women, because it is the outdated attitudes of young men (passed from generation to generation) that are perpetuating violence, abuse and discrimination. You are truly in a unique position to challenge the status quo and transform India into a country that you respect!

There are also a few ways you can make this happen through individual initiative:

1) Listen to your female peers about their experiences– what it’s like to be a woman in their shoes. Try to be empathetic and picture yourself on the other side of the fence. What would you do if you were them and if something unpleasant happened to you? What would you change about your behaviour now knowing how the other person feels on the receiving end of this behaviour? Be informed about women’s lives, issues and needs, and this will empower you to be a better man who will pass on good values to the next generations.

2) When you hear someone speak badly about a woman or women in general, don’t be silent; this only encourages the perpetrators to spread vile perceptions as acceptable. Speak up and voice your own opinions; others may feel the need to do so as well, but may be afraid to say something fearing reconciliation. Be the first one, and you will be the hero of the day! Speak up for the oppressed; by being silent, you automatically comply with the oppressor(s).

3) Be the man you admire and respect- be it a public hero or your own family member. Embody his values and live by them. What does he believe? How does he behave? What would he do about social issues in his community? Become an even better version of this inspiration! Not only will you be respected and admired by becoming an example to others, you will be the type of a change-agent that India desperately needs.

Social transformation truly starts with the youth, and youth are the only change-agents we can count on to solve India’s biggest problems. Forget politicians; forget the people who seem powerful and who you think have all the answers. They are mostly in it for themselves and only do as much as their energy for the day commands. They will never usher in innovation and bold ideas that the country needs to move forward.

It will have to be you- your life and your work. Your generation will be power holders eventually and your lives will reflect the values you bring to those positions. Start now by being the change you want to see five, ten, fifty years down the line. Do it for you, for your family, for your community…for India.

A great example of speaking up for others:

You must be to comment.
  1. Babar

    Be the type of woman you admire. Do you admire a female scientist, politician, novelist, painter or public figure?

    Why is admiration only reserved for women working outside the home. Are homemakers not supposed to be admired? Also, the title is rather amusing – Men-hating feminists need men’s help to fight for them.

    If we are really concerned about women’s rights, then we should be raising our voices against the abuse by mothers-in-law, who are the biggest perpetrators of violence against women, not to mention daughters-in-law, who poison their husbands minds against family members, and sisters-in-law, who have mastered the art of family politics.

    As for equality itself, women always marry men richer than them, go shopping with their husband’s money, have their husbands pay at restaurants, have seats reserved for them everywhere, from office to politics, and ask men to leave their seats for them in the name of being gentlemen – What happened to equality? And when was the last time a woman left her seat for a man? – Equality is only applicable when it works in favour of women.

    The truth is, feminism is about the superiority of women over men, which is why the media never highlights the problems faced by men. I wonder why we don’t talk about the biases that men face on a daily basis, about how courts give men stricter sentences for the same crimes that women commit, about how juries give verdicts against men in domestic disputes, about misandry in the media, about sexism against men, about how men are locked up in false cases of rape, dowry, and domestic abuse, about how their oppressors do not face punishment over false accusations, among a host of other things.

    1. S

      You deserve an award. For having no work (and still sustaining yourself somehow) and dedicating your life to be the first one to comment on each and every article related to women on this site.

    2. Anesa Kratovac

      Hi Babar,

      You do have a valid point. For a clarification, I do think that if a woman aspires and admires a woman who chooses a home life, all power to her. But for the sake of my argument and since women at home are quite the norm in India, it made sense to push the envelope.

      As for sexism against men, it does happen, no doubt! Both men and women are guilty of taking advantage of cultural norms that exploit the other, that’s why I wrote that it is important for us to embody the type of person we admire and that can set an example to others. The men and women that you talk about who exploit one another should precisely take note; likewise, they are probably not the type to go out of their way to be the future of India :).

      As for the feminism statement, I wholeheartedly disagree with you here. Feminism has nothing to do with “hating men” and has everything to do with speaking out for fairness and equality- for challenging the way men and women antagonize each other and calling for women to have higher standards for themselves. Less than a century ago, women didn’t even have the right to vote, and although we have seen great progress in our rights since then, the women fortunate to live in urban, educated societies are still a minority in this world. Even these women who live in the most developed pockets of their societies have to fight for equal pay, work in a male-dominated environment (not feel accepted or demeaned/bullied), deal with public objectification and live with the possibility of physical violence. Which brings me to women living in rural areas of the world. These women have never had the opportunities to think for themselves, to learn about the world and to make a contribution to their society. If they are lucky, they are at least not aborted as fetuses, married as children, forced as servants or forced into prostitution.

      This is precisely why feminism became a movement. If we didn’t speak about these issues, half of the world’s population would be left out of the potential to feel safe and to lead happy, dignified lives. Every movement that brought down oppression started with public dialogue and voices speaking out for justice; if no one did, where would we be today? Feminism is a movement that looks to give women the opportunities to choose the life they want and to feel as valued in those choices as men. Perhaps there are women that are radically angry towards men, but that is not what feminism is about; it is only a reaction to certain personal experiences and does not define the aim of feminism at all. In 50 years, we’ll look back at the movement and what it did for the world…just as all the anti-colonial, anti-monarchy, anti-slavery and anti-discrimination movements to date.

      Anyway, thanks for your comment, and please do read up on feminist literature; you would be surprised what you find!

    3. ItsJustMe

      To ensure rights of women, to ensure welfare of women, to ensure the security of female foetus. When will you realize that it is not a sex or gender that we need to protect. It a human being, that is why there are human rights organizations around the world. A women in the rural area does not have opportunities right, you think the men there will get all the opportunities as people in urbanized societies? The problem with feminism is its increased efforts to seggregate and selectively implement policies and programs to benefit a particular gender. That is the very definition of sexism. It has been on for almost 100 years now, dont you think in all these years, if it was actually effective, women should have equal status in the society. The thing is they do, but the feminism sees to it that women does not realize this. Feminism makes sure that each and every woman feels insecure, feels like a victim to social prejudice. If there is no social prejudice, they will point out something that was not seen as a prejudice and make it into one. Feminism have a lot of wings, there are incredibly radical groups operating to this day who concentrate on man hate and female supremacy movements. Having said that, even non radical feminists are actually siding against men when they feel the legal and social benefits of being a women is threatened. For instance alimony laws, dowry laws, divorce laws, rape laws are all biased against men. Yes they want a particular ssex to have benefits in court where people are supposed to be equal. Again protecting and pushing for such laws is not sexist? But of course if someone speaks out against these laws they are sexists and male chauvinists, misogynists. Please have the basic sincerety to at least acknowledge that feminism is gender biased.

    4. ItsJustMe

      Also the pay gap myth have been proven to be a myth more than once, by renowned economists, financial analysts and human resources professionals. Please see my comment below about how illogical that will be if it at all exists.

  2. khushi

    Thanks to egocentric men like you Mr Babar…many women and girls in this country suffer daily…and ya you do deserve an award for being so anti women…this is no competition between men and women but about uplifting women….

  3. Templetwins

    The last 3 points are something which I find very condescending. Let me switch genders and show it you.

    Listen to your male peers about their experiences:-
    What it is like to be a man in a society which says you have some kinda privilege and oppress 50% of the population. Try to be empathetic about them and don’t dwell on your instinctual narcissistic bubble. What it feels like to earn so much to provide dowry for your daughter which would only be seen as a womens issue. What it feels like to provide for your spouse who disowned you for someone else? What it feel like to be forced to live a life long financial servitude for someone you just married to?

    When you hear someone speak badly about a man or man in general, don’t be silent:-
    Don’t be silent when they say men can stop rape; that is a generalization. Don’t be silent when they say that a man has to protect women from other men, it puts him in his default default gender role as a protector and he is not guilty to be born with a penis. He doesn’t owe to women because a person with penis done some atrocity towards women and he doesn’t have to apologize for things he didn’t do. Don’t be silent when they make you, a man as a hero for a hero is a disposable male everyone would use and dispose.

    Be the woman you admire and respect:-
    Lets be like Danielle Crittenden, Karen Straughan, Christina Hoff Summers, Erin Prizzy and Suzanne Venker. They stood for true equality, be inspired by them. In fact surpass them and be a better version of this inspiration. You would the one that India desperately needs. You would be respected and admired by others if you do so and most of all don’t be like Farhan Akhtar, who formed MARD which puts men in their default protector gender role.

  4. Babar

    If we didn’t speak about these issues, half of the world’s population would be left out of the potential to feel safe and to lead happy, dignified lives.

    There is just as much violence against men as there is against women, be it rape, murder, domestic violence from wives, or false cases of dowry, rape, molestation, and assault. Men, generally, do not report violence by women because it is considered unmanly to do so. Furthermore, you can also be a victim of death threats from feminists if you dare raise your voice against domestic violence perpetrated by women (Google Erin Pizzey).

    People sympathize with women’s causes because of the hype in the media about violence against women, and the media selectively chooses to represent issues of one gender only due to the element of attention associated with it – It is almost as though violence against men does not exist (Please search “violence against men” in YouTube).

    The draconian laws in India have done nothing to further the cause of men, as a woman only needs to point a finger at a man to land him in jail over false allegations of rape, dowry, assault, domestic abuse, molestation, etc. Women do this without a care in the world about a man’s life, future, career, family, reputation, etc.

    Men are always at the receiving end, men are victimized, tormented, and traumatized, and it is not surprising that suicide by men is escalating in India – A man in India commits suicide every 6 minutes. Twice as many men commit suicide as compared to women in India.

    As many as 1,35,445 people committed suicide in the country last year. Statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that excluding West Bengal, 79,773 men and 40,715 women had taken the extreme step (The Hindu).

    1. Manisha Shetty

      In case of violence against a man committed by a woman, let the man not feel UNMANLY to report that. How does reporting a crime UNMANLY. In the first place how does that even relate to this article which is just pointing out how equality can be brought about in the society by treating women equal to Men. If one does have an idea of equality based on how Men should be treated equal to Women (which would be absolutely right) then there should probably be another article that you could write on that rather than reviewing this article that is talking about women. Give this its own space! Lets make our purpose clear. If one’s aim is to fight and disrespect each others views and win an argument that that will do no good. Rather than finding whats wrong here, please point out whats right and what makes sense in a respectful way. And sure no one is a protector. If a woman needs a man to protect then the whole purpose of equality breaks down. Respect for every gender and speaking up against any form of violence is humanity not some unmanly or feminine behavior for that matter.

    2. ItsJustMe

      How does reporting a rape make the women subject to social prejudices and stigmas? Similarly men also face social prejudices which comes from deeprooted social believes associated with masculinity. But youwill rather ignore that part and act all compassionate about the rape victim of she is female. Because of course whatever she faces is “totally” different. Dont be a hypocrite

  5. Babar

    Hello Anesa,

    Even these women who live in the most developed pockets of their societies have to fight for equal pay

    You are paid at your job according to your skills, experience, academic credentials, and how well you perform at your workplace. It is different with different people. It is not a question of a man and a woman working the same job not being paid the same, even two men or two women with the same career within the same organisation will be paid differently. The vast majority of people work different jobs though, and yes, women are paid less, because women work fewer hours than men, take maternity leave, work easier jobs than men, and take courses in college which pay less than those of men. For more information, please refer to the videos here and here.

    1. Harkirat Singh Talwar

      Women, irrespective of their physical compulsions, deserve to be treated and paid equally for the work they do. If you are unaware of people like Oprah Winfrey, Paris Hilton, Julia Roberts, Sushma Swaraj, Sunita Williams… Then my friend, it is you who is at fault…not women.

    2. ItsJustMe

      I can give you a lot of fields in which women are paid more than men. For instance kindergarten and childcare, nursing, modeling, pornography, psychological counselling. Pay ratio myth has been proven to be just a myth many a times. In very simple terms, if corporates could pay women less wages for the same work as men do, then they will simply not hire men. Compensation is a managerial decision and not a decision based on sex/gender. It was also found in many surveys that women increasingly choose career paths that are not financially rewarding as men do. But again these will never catch your eye as it is systematically removed from mainstream media, because they dont want to face the wrath of feminisits of course. Now you may come up with some argument to just prove to yourself that you are right. But the facts remain facts that no one will pay more to hire someone to do the same work just because he is male. So it is pretty much BS whatever you hear about pay gap

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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