I’m taking part in Blog Action Day (#BAD2014) and the theme this year is #Inequality.
Being a female and from a country where gender discrimination continues to be an enormous problem, I didn’t have to think twice about the topic to write on.
The fight starts off from my mother’s womb.
“Get the sex determination test done and abort if it is a girl.”
Yes. We start fighting for our lives even before life seeps into us.
In spite of all of this, I’m born. Alas!
For some reason I am not buried yet.
No one distributes sweets, throws a party or shows any happiness as they did when my brother was born. Instead you can hear them cry or curse me and my mother.
Every single minute from here on I keep getting unsolicited discourses. Mandates on what to wear, what not to wear. I’m told to keep my mouth shut under all circumstances regardless of whether I’m right or wrong. I’m told how I should not let my parents waste money on my education or personal development. After all the ultimate goal of my life is serving the husband and in-laws, handling the kitchen, the laundry and the kids.
Nobody is bothered about what I want from my life.
My brother gets freshly baked breads while my grandmother chooses to serve me with stale food. Even our cow gets better food than me. Of course, she gets them milk, dung and what not. The brother gets full-cream milk twice or thrice a day. I’m told that I should maintain my figure which alone might help get a low dowry demand from the groom. If God forbid I happen to be dusky or dark-complexioned, my life will be hell all along. You know it’s always Tall, Dark and Handsome. Never
Short, Dark and Beautiful.
I’m the second girl child in my family. My parents decide to admit me to a government school when they can easily afford to put me in the same private school that my elder sister goes to. And sometimes they also decide to not admit me to any school at all. All this because it was my fault that I was born as a daughter when they were expecting a son.
An eve-teaser chases me and I am forced to withdraw from attending coaching classes.
With great efforts I manage to crack competitive exams like IIT-JEE and CAT. With a lot of persuasion and assurance that the money spent on my education will be a good investment and my parents can expect good returns for the investments they have made on me so far, I get admitted into one of the premier engineering or management institutes. First day at the college and the professor tells me in as many words, “Girls getting into IIT (or IIM) is an utter wastage of seats. They get married, have children and leave jobs.”
Fighting against all these odds, I crack the interview at world’s biggest IT company. I have completed a full year at work and produced remarkable results. This is what the CEO utters: “Women should trust “karma” instead of asking for pay raises.“
I’m in the family way and I eagerly share the news with my manager. With twisted eyebrows he screams, “How could you do it? We have our Annual Sales Meeting around your due date.”
I join back after my maternity leave and my manager hands me the pink slip. His argument that you’ll not be as dedicated as you’ve been so far.
My first appraisal after a year of motherhood. I’m not given any increment because I took my allotted leaves to take care of my child who was unwell.
The neighbour expired untimely. His wife was forced to wear white clothes, abstain from attending family functions, watching television, listening to music, eating non-veg. Her brother-in-law lost his wife to an accident. He gets married within thirty days of her death.
And we engage in Kanjak and Durga Pooja.
And we talk of equality and culture.
No. This is not the story of every other female in India. But yes some of the situations quoted have been faced by females in different contexts. Things definitely are improving for good. But the pace is slower than required. Parents have now become more understanding and supportive. Teachers are now more encouraging and helping. In-laws are now more accommodating and supportive. Companies are working towards making arrangements to support working mothers. The steps are being taken forward. But a lot has to be improved by us. A collective effort from all concerned will definitely improve the situation faster. Looking forward to a better place for all of us.