Addressing Gender Equality – The First Step
Unlike her mother, my mother was a working woman. She was a teacher. Besides her working hours she doubled as a homemaker taking care of us and the home. My dad was relatively liberalized outlooks compared to his contemporaries yet changes in approach and recognition was still possible. Comparing to the status my granny enjoyed (!) in the family – I came to know about all these from the leisurely sharing monologues of my mom about her mom, over years- my mother lived a much better life.
My wife is a homemaker as of now. Though her standards of life in terms of equality in recognition inside the family is way better than my mom’s or that of my sisters is better, to be honest, I would confess there is still room for improvement .
In a country like India, gender equality seems to be a perennial issue. To be precise, it’s the same elsewhere in the world. September last, while the whole world was busy with the US Presidential elections, Maria Grazia Chiuri, stunned the French fashion world with her T-shirts bearing the slogan “We should all be feminists”. She happens to be the first ever female designer in the famous Dior fashion house. Her definition of a feminist goes like
“A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes”.
Among the aspects focused in her definition, I guess the last two come from outside and while the first comes from the ‘inside’. There couldn’t be an opposing argument to the fact that family is the integral par t of every society. Individuals nurtured and groomed in the family enter in to the society. Addressing gender equality is gaining momentum like never before. We live in an era where the gender difference had to thin down, for the collective good of everyone. Hence pondering on it is inevitable to aim at collective progression in all the spheres. But where do we begin? From whom?
Gender inequality is not something that distills down to an individual from the society. Sadly, and perhaps inadvertently, gender inequality is born and nurtured, right in our living rooms. Yes, every parent, every family somehow showcase ‘gender difference approach’ among their children, kith and kin. Soon after birth every child, especially boys, clearly understands gender differences through the way he is treated by the family members. He, in comparison with the treatment of a girl child by the same members, receives without words that men are superior to women.
This understanding settles within him and keeps growing. May be it’s in the difference in fulfilling the petite wishes of his and his’ sister, or may be from the relative speed with which those wishes are fulfilled. Perhaps it’s the freedom that’s never offered to him (well, he has it already!) and is always ‘offered’ to the girl child in the home. The language with which the parents address their kids and their approach towards them bear the stamp of gender difference. This assimilates in the male mind and this nourishes the ‘male ego’.
The most appropriate way to address gender equality is to start only with boys in home and not the girls. It’s the parent, more specifically the mom, should keep telling her boy that except the few biological differences that nature has given, boys and girls are the same. Neither one of them is superior nor inferior to each other. I insist on moms to educate, because in most of the cases they unconsciously grow the male ego in their child. She being already a product brought up from the male dominated world is unaware that she herself at some point becomes the vehicle of gender inequality.
The first step towards gender equality should only start from our homes. The children should witness the way their mother is treated by their father; the way the women in their family are treated by the men in their family. It’s a better way to design a better future.
‘Like Charity, gender equality also begins at home’.