A woman is human. Isn’t that the summary of what all gender equality discussion is about. Women are not trying to prove anything nor are they asking for privileges. They just want what has been a given for men. Voting rights, right to work, right to education etc came about only after a fight and in some countries even the right to drive and travel alone is still not a given.
Gender equality does not imply that women and men are the same, but that they have equal value and should be accorded equal treatment. Throughout history the struggle of women for their rights has been brutal. Female infanticide, sati, dowry killings, domestic violence to name a few. Yes there are few areas where we can be proud of having moved ahead. Dowry is illegal as is sati, domestic violence and female infanticide. And yes our president is a woman.
But sadly, though the law has changed, the mentality of people hasn’t. Unfortunately in most developing nations women are told tolerance is a virtue and this tolerance extends to tolerance to abuse too. This makes many women an active participant in her own mistreatment. Societies also tend to look the other way when women are denied their rights probably because they are used to seeing women in a second class status for a long time.
Women getting lesser pay for the same work, Child upbringing being her sole responsibility, sacrificing her career for the sake of her family all these are some of the practical issues faced by women today. How can this be changed. I think it is only through sensitising the male members of our society to these inequalities that some change can be brought about.
Is there a practical advantage too in according women their rights? Estimates reveal that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30 percent, lifting 100-150 million out of hunger. An educated and a financially independent women can bring about a drastic change in the position of her entire family. So why are we denying her this right then?
The roles that men and women play in society are not biologically determined they are socially determined, changing and changeable. Although they may be justified as being required by culture or religion, these roles vary and change over time. Today’s Woman have a lot of responsibilities, more responsibilities than men. Shouldn’t that translate into more rights for them then? But women being the gentle and tolerant beings they are, will settle for equal rights.
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