By Nikita Kotecha of Teach For India; submitted for #EveryGirlInSchool
“But didi, why are there no girls who are Brahmins in the Vedic period?”
“Well, Soleeha that is a question whose answer we still can’t find reason for.”
Discrimination against women has been a long drawn practice that has now become a habit. It’s normal. We see it in schools, offices, on levels of authority, in homes, and almost everywhere our gaze can reach. The problem is why has it become so normal? Answers to that can range from physical abilities to religion, from gender roles to Marxism. But the need of the hour is to put an end to it.
Waves of feminism have come and gone but should it end there? I believe in an IDEAL world, where the word ‘feminist’ should not exist, because we should breathe equality. But alas, that world is yet to be born. We need to aid the birth of such a world.
As a teacher, I see this problem on various levels. From the classroom to problems at home. I believe the main source is mindset. All humans are born as a clean canvas. Experience paints our views, moulds our beliefs, builds our opinions. Girls aren’t born inferior and boys superior. They have a right to education and equal opportunities and respect and dignity in the society just as the men do. However, they are made to believe otherwise. As adults, it’s our responsibility to make a change, if not in the mindsets that have already shaped and exist, definitely in the ones that are now moulding.
During parent teacher meetings, I encourage mothers to use their voice so that their children don’t give in to the silence. It’s jarring, this silence that says so much without trace. Not only does this give confidence to my students but also helps parents know what’s right and wrong.
Due to lack of awareness, there is an ocean of individuals thinking this is the rule. This is how things are supposed to be. While there have been slight changes, these changes have failed to reach the masses. The word consent always seems to be yes regardless of whether it’s a no. Anytime a new repost of sexual assault comes to light, the first question asked is “what was she wearing?” A man’s word is taken at face value, while a women has to fight to be heard for everything she needs, which includes things as basic as access to education/ higher education depending on the socio-economic strata of the society she comes from. .
Not only their attire, but also the behaviour of women is constantly questioned. “What time did she leave the house?” The question should be why are women locked in the four walls of domesticity and not given equal opportunities. Even when showcased on the big screen, women only play certain roles that abide by their gender. On television, women have set roles that they fulfil. Anything out of this seems out of place. All this shapes mindsets. From religion to media, we are all victims of perpetuation.
The thought of living in a world where my daughter and my students fear multiple scenarios only because they are women is one which I cannot allow and thus I do what I do – I teach to change mindsets; which is what I believe is the primary cause for the gender gap in education and opportunities.