This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Pragati Sharma. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why Is Keeping Women “In Check” More Important Than Development?

More from Pragati Sharma

Discussing, debating, and defining masculinity based on movies, TV serials, books, or half-baked discussions on social media can never be productive to use as a parameter for real life. The reason is simple: there are a lot of ifs and buts when movies, TV series, books, or any medium takes up the subject of masculinity. It is true when people say that in real life there are a lot of variations in how things happen which cannot be simply defined objectively.

After World War II, the world changed dramatically for men and women. There were a lot of conscious efforts to give women space in a lot of spheres, which continues till now. India, after independence, also gave women rights at par with men at least in the Constitution of India, which directly translated into legal rights for women. Though how much of it has resulted in action is always debatable, women also have failed to rise to the occasion (this subject is beyond the scope of the topic).

Patriarchy and masculinity dominate society in many countries.

Despite the world achieving an unprecedented level of technological and scientific achievements, parts of the world continue to be fully functional patriarchies. Here, fully functional patriarchy means men are in charge of all things and women have no voice even for small things.

What parts of the world are fully functional patriarchs? In the Indian subcontinent- Afghanistan, and Pakistan, beyond India- Syria, Iraq, Iran, or any country which is quite vocal about women staying at home.

When discussing patriarchy flourishing in these countries, there are no half-baked truths about patriarchy. There is no confusion about how men operate when women have no dominant role. There is no dispute regarding what the results of patriarchy are. They are self-evident. What patriarchy actually looks like can be easily defined.

With the western world becoming more developed, these originally patriarchial countries/societies have turned into ultra patriarchial societies to defend themselves from western values. Then the ultimate question is: What does the unadulterated and pure masculinity of patriarchial societies look like?

Before I start answering this question, I would like to warn men and women who always portray men as victims of circumstances will feel deeply offended. But here there will be no scope for counter-narrative because these societies are living breathing examples that cannot be falsified even if you want.

What Does A Masculinity Patriarchal Society Look Like?

1. Masculinity here is extremely violent: Whether the adrenaline coursing through the body or the unchallenged power results in being violent is debatable, one thing is clear that men clearly express their intent to be violent if things do not go their way. Any area where the men of these ultra patriarchial societies feel challenged or disrespected will not shy away from killing you and will find a way to justify it. In all, the violent tendencies can be exhibited even for small disagreements or offenses.

2. Family life is a portrayed focal point of life but filled with abuse and cruelty: Illustrating this point is pointless because scientific knowledge and research abound on the issue, though such research is always dismissed by men of ultra patriarchial societies. Marry against the wishes of the male member of the family and the concept of family is thrown out.

3. No regard for human life and the fundamental rights of the individuals: The men of these ultra patriarchial societies can kill their own, let alone strangers. These societies are self-evident of this. Nothing more can be said to describe the situation.

4. ‘Women are weak’, an excuse to not exercise self-control by men: Strong belief that men are more powerful than women results in the shifting of responsibility on women to not provoke men so that they are not raped or beaten or abused. Don’t wear clothes which men prohibit, don’t talk loudly so that men feel angry, are such examples.

5. Women by their birth and body are sex objects and cannot have any identity beyond that: Iran’s highest political leader’s statement that women do not have the right to discard the role of wife or a mother is sufficient to say how important it is for a woman to provide sex to a man in the form of marriage. Even if she can refuse to have children depends on the rights of a man.

6. Weak people should not have free will: Women are weak, so they cannot demand even the slightest of respect from strong men. Women are weak, so they should follow the rules of the men discarding the free will and consciousness granted by the creator of the human beings. This also applies in the case of people who are not physically strong.

7. Only men suffer and women enjoy: There is always a faction of men in all religions of the world who would shout in public that women only marry men for money. Some would say men work hard in their jobs, while women sit at home and spend money.

8. Marriage is treated as a form of slavery for women where they have to obey the husband.

9. Lastly, men are always the victims of their rules: Men don’t cry or men don’t take support from women have created a long line of troubled and mentally unstable men. Destiny does not allow all men to earn money or be rich. Similarly, not all women are on earth to be duty-bound to family only. But still, gender norms on men have destroyed families too.

These are major characteristics shown by the patriarchy of any country. The minor characteristic of masculinity that deserves attention is polygamy. A major portion of the world has acknowledged the harmful effects of polygamy, but still religiously patriarchial societies treat polygamy as a full-blown expression of masculinity and virility.

The characteristics are shown by developed, developing, and underdeveloped countries in various proportions. The Western world (developed) from time to time shows a tendency to be masculine by taking up subjects like abortion, divorce, infidelity, and child custody.

The reason they (western societies) keep abandoning these masculine traits is because of two reasons. One is they value the social setup that has given them immense development which primarily depended on the all-inclusiveness of women in all spheres of life. The second is the Western societies are not deeply religious. They quickly discard ideas that have lost reason or have been proved wrong especially matters related to women.

Representational Image. Marriage is used as a tool to control women.

India (a developing country) fluctuates between patriarchy and Shakti devotion (women as Goddess). In recent years, the masculinity debate is getting prominence because of the resurgence of discussion around Indian culture. Though Indian culture has fair regard to women particularly in Shaivism, today’s Indian men are more into their expression of masculinity.

Not only men, but Indian women are also equally into men’s supremacy. The momentum to portray the family as the central focus of Indian culture is bringing back masculinity in its pure form which existed till the Independence of India in 1947.

Indian men and women now spend time debating and enforcing women to wear sarees and salwar suits as a part of Indian culture. There is a whole league of Indian men who now openly discuss how women need to be controlled and do not have rights beyond what men decide.

The underdeveloped countries have poor records of human conditions, and it is significantly worse for women. They are deeply patriarchial where violence of any kind is rampant.

The Result Of Masculinity

Call it nature’s rule or the balance created by nature, where ever men have single-handed rule without voices of women are disruptive, unstabilized, and prone to kill people among themselves very often. Let’s take up the example of China. After the one-child policy, China had shown a decline in the women population. It is now estimated that 34 million men will have no women to get married. The aggression of China towards the world in recent years has sometimes been attributed to more men than women resulting in dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

A similar case is with India where it is estimated that 37 million men will never find a woman to marry because of the skewed sex ratio. But India never acknowledges this problem to show itself as a reformed and advanced country, unlike China.

Whatever the circumstances may be when women do not play a dominant role the world always suffer under the constant threat of violent and human rights violation. Taliban in Afghanistan and terrorism in Pakistan are end products of unbridled and unchallenged patriarchy/masculinity.

Poverty and thoughtlessness are also common to countries where masculinity is practiced as a cult. People struggle for food and basic amenities because the country’s focus is always on what women are doing, wearing, or thinking. The whole energy is spent in controlling women rather than thinking about necessary matters.

The Situation In India

My main objective in writing this article is to shake Indian men and women. History is again repeating itself in India. India now faces multiple threats from its ultra patriarchial neighbors and countries which are deeply religious.

BJP and other major political parties in India still try to dictate patriarchal ideas on women.

The problem is Indian men and women are still investing time in what women’s roles should be, what should they wear from sarees to jeans, how should Indian women keep their husband’s families together, or how women neglect family. India had been a majorly patriarchial society but has failed miserably for the past two centuries. Let’s remember this.

From BJP to RSS to leaders like Owaisi, instead of looking for development in India, hours and hours are wasted in keeping women in check. India needs to keep its excessive masculine tendencies in check now. Crying always in the name of women will not help the Indian future.

Indian men in the past centuries have failed to keep India safe. It’s time Indian men and women come together and start contributing in the fields of defense, science, technology, economy, or social conditions to make India a powerful nation rather than spending hours to keep the focus on controlling women. The present scenario of India as a country requires immediate attention for all-around development so that enemies can be kept at bay.

Featured image is for representational purposes only
You must be to comment.

More from Pragati Sharma

Similar Posts

By gunn jain

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By Karthika S Nair

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below