When I was told to write about gender equality I was not very sure how to begin. I have lived a fairly good life with all the perks and privileges given to me just like how they would be given to my brother or husband.
However, when I look around the society I can vouch for it that being a woman; I have always gotten an edge over men. As women, we tend to live in two different worlds and can co-exist with men without having to prove superiority. The topic of gender equality thus keeps changing its meaning.
While there is a widespread issue of lack of knowledge of basic human rights, lack of opportunities for education and thereby resulting financial dependence, I am a firm believer of ‘Do it yourself’ principle.
The one who wants to fight it out would fight under in any circumstances.
To share with you from my personal experience in the family, my grandmother left her husband (My grandfather) in mid of 1940’s in order to move from the small village of Idar to a bigger city of dreams – Ahmedabad. Her sole agenda was to provide quality education to her four sons and improve their chances at fulfilling their dreams. My grandfather was a respectable zameendaar of this village. He did not want to get displaced from his comfort zone and let go off his respectable societal status by starting from scratch in the new city. My grandmother’s move was condemned not only by the family but also by the entire society. Remember it was 1940’s.
She started her life in Ahmedabad as a daily wager in a small coal factory and worked hard to provide education to her sons. It was only much later, that she was lauded by everyone for her grit and courage. She did bear the flak of the society initially, but she overcame all of this alone as she believed in herself and her dreams for her sons.
In the rural Indian scenario, women grow up listening to the sacrificial stories of Sita and Savitri. They are made to believe that it is virtuous to suffer and sacrifice for the greater good of men. I wonder why Draupadi is never quoted as an example. Why do we name our daughters Sita and Savitri but never Draupadi ?
Are we shy to accept the open talks about the polygamous status of Draupadi that is passed on in mythology? Are we afraid to admit that she questioned and yet lived in that society?
Are we conditioned to accept the virtuous over the courageous?
We belong to the society where Sita sacrificed her life for her virtue, where Radha’s playfulness was sung in the hymns and where self righteous Meera was poisoned. All these characters have one thing in common – they all did what they felt was right, at that point and time. They believed in what they did and stood up for themselves.
In the current times, I feel disappointed when I see well educated women, who are aware about gender equality as a concept, measure their status in the society on the basis of the designer labels that their husbands provide for them. On one hand they talk about equality as one of the fads, and on the other hand they are fine being subjugated to patriarchal norms of a well-off family.
In my opinion, men and women can never be compared. They both are different, meant to complement, not compete.
As a mother of two daughters, I do know for sure, I will stand up for my rights, not only as a woman but as a human and be a living example of strength for my daughters. I wish a society in which women have the strength to believe in themselves and stand up for their rights.
Ruby Jagrut is a prolific contemporary artist & painter based out of Ahmedabad who has used the techniques of Natural Dyeing, a rare medium that is on the verge of extinction, as the only medium for her magnificent works. She promotes and encourages the ‘Natural Dyes’ as a medium to express her creativity. In other life, exuberant and vivacious Ruby loves coffee, conversations & sarees.