Gender Inequality is a very serious issue in today’s world. We live in a world where women are very often discriminated against in all walks of life, be it education, politics, jobs, and so on. What really makes men think of the opposite gender this way? Is it because they want to show their superiority? Or is just because they consider women to be objects? Nobody knows for sure, but the fact of the matter is what is happening is not right, and something needs to be done about it.
Women right now are not happy, and understandably so. As I said before, they are discriminated against in all walks of life. They are either paid less in jobs, or not given positions they truly deserve, just because of their gender. In politics, they aren’t really paid enough attention, and no one really cares about what they have to say. In fact, women have a poor 11% representation in the Lok Sabha and 10.6% in the Rajya Sabha, making India 108th among 188 countries covered in the annual analysis on statistics of women members of parliament (MPs) conducted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). (Source: Times Of India)
Now, coming to a very important case: Female Foeticide. In mainly rural areas, the general perception is that girls don’t even deserve to be born! I know, it sounds stupid, but friends, this is the cold, hard truth. So this is basically what happens: A woman gets pregnant. If the baby is found to be a girl, it is killed off in the womb itself. Even if it is born, the child will not be allowed to get a proper education. She will have to work in households as a ‘’kaamwaali’’ and bring desired wages to the family. Or in worse cases, she is pushed into prostitution after a certain age!
For such families, the male child is the ultimate earner. Again, sad but true. Although child marriage has decreased in India, many of these girl children are married off at a very young age by the family. All this puts India in the list of countries where Gender Equality isn’t really encouraged. Empowerment of women is rarely encouraged.
Coming to another very serious issue that puts India in negative headlines across the world: Rape. We all know what happened on the 16th Of December, 2012. The rape of a young medical student left Indians angered and enraged. Sure, we protested, forced politicians to change rules, forced the media to focus attention on such cases more often. But in the end, what did we achieve?
Of course, new anti-rape laws were designed, but in reality, whether or not such cases occur depends on the mentality of men. There are men in society who think of women as objects designed for their satisfaction only. When this horrible thought enters their minds, it is very difficult to stop them. Sure, we can blame police officers for not doing their jobs, but in the end what do we really achieve?
We keep reading about rape incidents every single day in the newspapers. Who knows, there may be several unreported incidents as well. The point is, ultimately, it is the mentality of the opposite gender which has to change for good! Rise in violent crimes against women is another form of gender inequality, which we need to stop.
Recently, British actress Emma Watson, also the United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, launched a campaign named ‘’HeForShe’’ to spread awareness on the issue of gender inequality worldwide, and to promote a safer environment for women.
She delivered a 11 minute speech at the UN, excerpts of which are below:
“I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.
No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.
These rights I consider to be human rights but I am one of the lucky ones. My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influencers were the gender equality ambassadors that made who I am today. They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists who are. And we need more of those. And if you still hate the word—it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it. Because not all women have been afforded the same rights that I have. In fact, statistically, very few have been.
You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It’s a good question and trust me I have been asking myself the same thing. I don’t know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better.
And having seen what I’ve seen—and given the chance—I feel it is my duty to say something. English statesman Edmund Burke said: “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men and women to do nothing.”
Because the reality is that if we do nothing it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly a hundred before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work. 15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children. And at current rates it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education.
We are struggling for a uniting word but the good news is we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, To be the he for she. And to ask yourself if not me, who, if not now when.”
In conclusion I would like to quote Mahatma Gandhi: “To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?“
Let us join hands and promote Gender Equality!
PS: You can be a part of the United Nation’s HeForShe campaign. Log onto www.heforshe.org for more.
By: Takshak Pai