Sana lives in a remote area of the city. She is happy and lives a normal life with her siblings. She wakes up early and helps her brothers get ready for school. She happily helps mum pack their lunch boxes and water bottles and hands them while they go out running to their school.
This is when Sana sees Rida and Shumaila, the girls from her neighbourhood, dressed in school uniforms and going to school with their father. They seem so happy carrying their water bottles and school bags. They are almost the same age as Sana.
Sana don’t understand the contrast because she never saw any girl in her family going to school. She asks her father, who tells her that, as a girl, she is supposed to help her mother in household chores. Education, in her family, is only the right of her brothers who will get employed one day and start supporting the family with their earnings; the neighbourhood girls are just wasting the time and money of their parents, they will be the one disrespecting their parents in the future.
in her family going to school. She asks her father, who tells her that, as a girl, she is supposed to help her mother in household chores. Education, in her family, is only the right of her brothers who will get employed one day and start supporting the family with their earnings; the neighbourhood girls are just wasting the time and money of their parents, they will be the one disrespecting their parents in the future.
Sana becomes satisfied with the answer. The sad fact is, in the families where education is considered only for boys, girls from the very beginning are brought up in such a way that they think whatever is being done with them is right and this is the way life is for women.
They don’t know that they are equal to their brothers and other male members of society. The reason is that their parents feel they don’t have to study because, after all, all they have to do is take care of the house and cook.
But there are girls who love to study and dream of going to school, having books, school bag and uniform. Their family doesn’t show any signs of support to them. They have to suppress their wishes, kill their dreams and live a subdued life ever after.
Women of Third World countries are denied many of their basic rights, like education, proper healthcare, recreation, play, free will and self-esteem. Men, on the other hand, enjoy basic rights generally, and are able to make life’s choices that suit them at an individual level from a very early age.
The sad fact is, in the families where education is considered only for boys, girls from the very beginning are brought up in such a way that they think whatever is being done with them is right and this is the way life is for women. They don’t know that they are equal to their brothers and other male members of society
Apart from the suppression of women by denying almost of all their rights, the overall treatment of women by society in general goes against women’s rights. Little effort is made to nurture and develop the personality traits, skills, talents, etc., of a female from a young age. It is forgotten that a female is a human being first and then a female. And as humans, they deserve as much rights as men have.
This mindset is also reflected in the behaviour of boys towards girls. For instance, boys often tell their female classmates, “You are a girl, you can’t do this!” Or in a family, comments like, “Your brothers need it more than you do,” are often heard. And these hurt the self-esteem of girls and hamper their personality growth.
International women’s day, celebrated on March 8 every year, is an occasion to understand and address all these issues and problems that women face. It is also a day celebrated to honour all the women of the world, with a resolve to find a solution to their problems.
We, the children, have to understand these issues from an early age and play positive roles. We are the leaders of tomorrow. We would have the power to change the situation for us and for the women around us if we understand and address the issues. Therefore, like other forms of education, the idea of gender equality and appreciation of women’s rights should take its roots in our minds from an early age.
The power to make a difference lies with all of us. The bottom line (worth repeating) is the realisation that there is no difference between men and women. Therefore, there should be no social values, which could deny women their basic rights as human beings.
Appreciation of the rights of women and striving to make them equal to men in all respects forms the basis of any healthy and progressive society. It is about time that women are given their due rights and all the oppression against them stops.
Acknowledgement: All the credit in writing this story goes to women for their valuable advice and guidelines. Without the advice, this story would not have been written.
How we can play our part
• Help the females in your house in domestic chores. Even if it is in the form of taking care of your younger siblings, or keeping an eye on household servants or maids, any form of help would be welcomed by your mother, sister or grandmother.
• Spend more time with the females of your house. Talk and listen to them, this is where they would feel that you love and care for them. Very often, women are emotionally unsatisfied. They wish that those around them understand them better. By talking to them, you can understand the things that are left unsaid by them.
• Show them complete respect, because every individual is different. Be sensitive to their emotions and feelings. Show empathy to the type of personality they have and the position they are in.
• Communicate to them that you appreciate everything they do in your life. Appreciation goes a long way in making women happy. It gives them motivation and energy to keep doing all the good things they do for us.
• Apologise for your past mistakes and resolve not to repeat them. By apologising, you are sending a message that you aim to make things better for them.
• When you come to think about it, you would realise that women do not have all that they should have in their lives. The last thing they want is you messing up and repeating your mistakes.
• Arrange or participate in events in your school or locality on honouring women and raising their concerns. You can talk to your school teachers, co-ordinators or principal in this regard.
• Understand and promote the idea that both male and female, are equals. There is no such healthy, progressive and normal life activity that is reserved just for men or boys. Women and girls have as much right to make life’s choices as men and boys have.
Published in Dawn, Young World, March 3rd, 2018