This Women’s Day, Let’s Move Beyond Just Talking About Gender Equality

Posted by Sana Khan in Sexism And Patriarchy
March 7, 2017
Editor’s note: This story is in response to Youth Ki Awaaz’s topic for this week – #WomensDay to start conversations on how we can achieve a gender equal society. If you have faced gender-based violence, sexism or misogyny, would like to propose policy reforms or write about what families, friends, workspaces and partners can do to ensure gender parity around them, write to us here.

Gender equality has become a trending topic these days. Not only among the youth but among people of other age groups also. People see one side of gender equality, not the complex side.

According to most people, gender equality only means talking about it in front of others as if we know everything. This is one part of it. The complex and larger side of it is actually about practising it in our own lives rather than just speaking in front of the public. This side includes inequalities within families too. I have seen this happen in many families.

I have seen parents treating their daughters very nicely at home, but things change when it comes to the outer world. They educate their daughters, they let them wear whatever they want to, let them attend parties, etc. However, this is just one aspect. The second part includes parents letting their daughters study in a good college. However, after that, they have to marry a man selected for her. Many parents allow their daughters to dress according to their choice at home, but not outside. Parents say to their daughters, “You can go to the party, but I’ll come along with you.”

That ‘but’ always comes in between, whereas, gender equality does not include any ‘buts’.

How are we saying that we are giving girls equal rights when we actually are not? We have given tags to certain things. It results in certain kinds of work being done by boys, while other works are done by girls. It is assumed that cooking is a work which girls are supposed to perform. Being an engineer, pilot, etc, is reserved for boys.

We need to remove these tags completely. We need to give our girls a chance. Without even giving them a chance, we cannot decide upon their capability. For so many decades, we have been saying the same thing. Girls cannot do it. They are not as intelligent as boys. They don’t have the physical capacity of doing it, etc. What we need to change is, give girls the opportunity, instead of assuming things. Things in real life can never work on assumptions.

You must be the change you want to see in the world,” Gandhi ji had said.

What we all do is just speak of change. We only speak amongst ourselves and say that each and every girl in the world deserves education, each and every girl has the right to speak up against any violence happening with her, etc. Only if we practise these things in real life, will we be able to see the change in the world. Rather than just speaking of education of girls, why don’t we go and teach girls ourselves? If we see any violence taking place, we should go and help that girl and not just gossip about it.

Women are capable of doing so much more. However, that is possible only if we give them a chance. We have great examples in front of us. PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Geeta Phogat, Babita Kumari and many others. These girls proved that women are capable of doing anything. They just need a chance.

This International Women’s Day on March 8, the biggest gift we can give our girls is a ‘chance’. Also, having faith in them, so that they can do anything. Not only speak of gender equality but also practise it in real life. Women have never asked for expensive jewellery or dresses as gifts.

Companies announce special offers on Women’s Day on jewellery, clothing, etc. In this way, they somehow always connect women with these things. I don’t think that Women’s Day can only be celebrated with jewellery and clothes. It can also be celebrated by being independent, by deciding that we can handle our expenses on our own and that we don’t need anyone to care about us.

On this International Women’s Day, let’s be the change we want to see in the society rather than just speaking about it!

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Image source: Michael Coghlan/ Flickr

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