Article 15(2) of the Indian Constitution says, “No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to, access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment; or the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads, and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public.” We talk and read about equality, but do we think about it?
Do you know that inequality starts from our home itself when the parents select pink coloured items for the daughter and blue ones for the son? A Barbie and kitchen sets for a girl and bike and a Batman toy for a boy. When a girl or a woman drives a car, people say, “Dekh ke bhai, ladki gaadi chala ri hai” (careful, a woman is driving), though they also know about an astronaut, “Sunita Williams”.
In Indian society, people still think that only a boy can carry forward the family lineage, even when they know that the daughters take care of their parents even after marriage. Why do parents always advise their daughter saying, “you are a girl, and you have to manage your sasural, family, and life”? Why can’t they advise the same thing to their son? Or, why can’t they say managing the family is not just your responsibility, it’s your husband’s responsibility too—because both of you tied the knot.
As per a study in 2018, about 2,39,000 girls under the age of 5, die each year in India due to gender discrimination. According to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) researchers, states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan account for two-thirds of total excess deaths of infant girls under age five. If they identify the sex of the fetus as female, they kill the child before birth.
It’s not about a particular state; it’s about the mentality of our society where a girl child is treated as a burden, and they have no qualms about killing them at birth. While a male child can become the source of income for the family and carry on the family lineage, a girl child has to get married off to another family ultimately.
In villages, parents prefer to provide education to the boy rather than a girl, even if they agree to provide education, a girl has to drop out of school either to support her mother in the household chores or due to menstruation-related issued.
Nowadays, when an educated, working woman gets married, then after marriage, the responsibility of cooking and other household activities, caring for a baby are solely expected from the wife. Why? Just because she is a woman! If a boy is working till late at night, the family never objects, instead, they say, “My boy is so hardworking”. But if women do the same thing, then the thinking of the family and society gets changed, they taunt her for working till late and for not taking care of her family. Why does society discriminate between men and women?
At the workplace, because of gender, employees are treated differently, less favourably, evaluated more harshly or passed over for promotion. We can see this discrimination at all stages of employment, including recruitment, workplace terms & conditions and dismissal.
In job profiles such as facility administrator, field worker or driver, employers prefer a male candidate. They feel a woman won’t fit into the traditionally male workplace. If a woman is pregnant, either she forced to leave her job, or her promotion gets passed over. This shows the sick mentality of a male-dominant society.
As per an article, more young women experience sexual harassment, job insecurity and low pay as compared to male peers. According to the Young Women Trust, 23% of females aged between 16–30 reported sex discrimination, out of which only 8% reported about it and about 31% sought a new job.
In Microsoft, a renowned company, 238 complaints were filed by women with the HR department between 2010–2016. Out of the 238 internal complaints, 108 were for sexual harassment, 119 for gender discrimination, 8 for retaliation and 3 for pregnancy discrimination.
In Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), a former high-level female executive complained about the pattern and practice of gender discrimination and sexual harassment. She was told to quit the company, and when she did not, she was fired.
In India, we can see a gender pay gap in Bollywood. In films, both male and female actors put equal efforts, but still, actresses are paid less than the male actors. Due to this pay gap, no Bollywood actresses have ever made it to the Forbes List of highest earners.
In his autobiography, “An Unsuitable Boy”, Karan Johar mentions an incident where he paid Kareena Kapoor less that Shahrukh Khan, and later, he chose another heroine. This incidence shows the stereotypes in the film industry. Actresses like Kangna Ranaut and Priyanka Chopra have also talked about being paid less in comparison to their male costars. They were told that they were too proactive or that being sexy is their strength. This clearly shows that the Bollywood industry just objectifies women rather than respecting their capabilities.
Now, the actresses are changing this mentality by leading a film alone like Kangana Ranaut’s Queen, Priyanka Chopra’s Mary Kom, and many more. These actresses are breaking the stereotypes of Bollywood by showing their calibre to get equal pay.
We must strive to make work-life balance a priority for all. Let’s sow a seed of equality in our soil and see the plant of equality grow. The change should start with an individual. When you stop differentiating between the colours and toys, household responsibilities and career, only then can the mindset of society change. We are society, and when we change our thoughts, our country will enjoy the Freedom of Equality.