In the contemporary period, people are well aware of the importance of education and relevance of it for empowerment and self-reliance, but both “empowerment and self-reliance” are taken as dangerous terms when referring to women. Whatsoever empowers and makes a woman self-reliant scares the society because then the society won’t be able to “control and regulate” her life. Society holds the opinion that if a woman will become well educated, then the society’s patriarchal and orthodox traditions will be broken; as education will not only make her strong intellectually, but also make her empowered enough to make her “voice” heard, which no one wants to listen to anyway. Following this, she will no longer be their puppet and will go by her “choices”, instead of what the society wants her to do.
Society says women need to be controlled in order to keep traditions intact – the traditions which do not believe in asking women for their choice, but instead in imposing its patriarchal gender-oriented rules on the women. This gender-biased perspective deprives women of their right to higher education because the society believes that ‘education will open all the closed doors of unasked questions, and will encourage women to question all the societal imposed wants’. She, then, will not remain dependent on anyone for her survival and will become self-reliant. What society expects is that a woman should be educated to an extent that makes her eligible for ‘rishtas’ (marriage proposals) that can be easily found; as an educated woman is also considered one who cuts off the eligibility criteria for entering into the societal institution of marriage. This education is later used to showcase or publicise to people how educated their daughter-in-law is.
Quite paradoxically, a woman has to be educated to be eligible for good ‘rishtas’ is a notion that has been the root cause of discouraging education for women in the first place. The old saying of ‘a daughter has to go to another house’ has turned education for women into a requirement for getting married. Society believes that when a woman has to get married and sent away anyway, there is no point for her family to invest money into her education. The woman’s family is also biased, for it believes that it can’t reap in the benefits of her education and earning if she gets employed and enters another house.
What they do not think of is whether the woman’s education will help her deal with unforeseen circumstances that may arise in the future, after her marriage. If a woman is educated enough, she will be equipped to face the society and struggle her through even if no one else stands by her side. But, unfortunately, it is this very same empowerment and self-reliance that the society is afraid of because an ideal woman should be submissive and passive, and not strong and assertive.
It is this gender-biased ideology which makes women’s education an ‘option, not necessity’ and violates their right to be an empowered, autonomous individual.