Anyone who believes in equal rights and opportunities for all regardless of their gender, race, age, political, cultural or religious backgrounds, could clearly see that women’s empowerment is one of the most ignored social issues in India, especially in small cities. In fact, many people have accepted gender inequality as a “routine behaviour”. I firmly believe that we must first admit that gender inequality is in fact a serious problem in our society and unless we take necessary actions, it’s not going to go away on its own.
In many parts of India and across the globe, we still “expect” males to behave in certain ways and females to perform specific tasks. If we look hard enough within our own homes, schools and workplaces with a neutral perspective, we can clearly see that gender inequality exists at all levels of our society. For example, when it comes to providing equal opportunities and support from the families for educating both boys and girls, gender inequality can be clearly observed in many communities.
I have personally come across people, especially from villages and small cities, saying what is the point of educating a girl when she is going to stay home after getting married anyway? I know these types of statements seem like going back in time and hearing to prejudiced people of past generations, but it’s still a serious issue in many developing countries today.
Besides having access to equal opportunities for girls to get educated, another phenomenon that I have personally observed in many small cities is that even educated girls with master’s degrees don’t have full freedom to work or have an independent career after marriage. I personally believe that it’s the mind-set that has accepted this behaviour to be a “routine” that has to be changed to eradicate this issue.
To spread awareness about women’s empowerment issues and to promote equal rights and opportunities for girls everywhere, Manvilas Charitable Trust organized an annual function in Surat, Gujarat, India. I had an opportunity to share some of my thoughts and to inspire young women that it’s time to change our mind-sets.