Like fraternity and liberty, there is another right which plays an important role in each and every body?s life ? Equality. Throughout the world the idea of equality has always received a positive response. Be it fight against racial discrimination by Dr. Nelson Mandela in South Africa or the fight against religious discrimination, prescribed gender roles.
In my opinion, gender inequality is one of the major problems presently faced by the people. News channels, social media, local discussions are all replete with debates concerning this problem.
According to me, the meaning of equality is to treat everyone in a manner such that there are no imposed differences in opportunities or perceptions from the point of view of religion, caste, creed, color and so on. To put it in other words, where there is no discrimination on any basis, there exists equality. It would imply equality in terms of opportunities, rights and status.
So now the question arises that are we really living in a world that promotes equality? On the surface, it seems like the answer would be Yes, of course. But as we dig deeper, the clear answer is No.
It is not unusual for news papers to talk about death of women because of abortions forced by her in-laws and her husband. The reason for such forced abortion is the gender of foetus, a female. Female foeticide is not an ancient horror but a contemporary one. People go to such inhumane lengths to kill a fetus because they perceive them to be a ‘burden on the family’s shoulders’. In a society where primitive thoughts lead to horrifying acts, equality certainly does not exist.
Every now and then, we hear the news of men being paid more than women. Why is it so? Statistics prove that even though women work more than men, they are still paid less. The problem of wage-gap in the informal sector is a raging issue worldwide.
The next rational question is ? How do we stop this? Patterns of thought and reasoning start developing at a very young age. Thus, people should start teaching their children from childhood itself that they should be thoughtful and empathetic. They should respect other people irrespective of their gender, caste or other social categorizations. They should treat their fellow beings as humans. They should assess people on grounds of their character, behavior, deeds and not on grounds of their religion, creed, race, gender.
The idea of freedom and equality should be celebrated in any democracy, especially the world’s largest. It can only be a democracy if it celebrates its people.
The government has a huge role to play here. Nowadays people have started sending their girl child to schools because of a few schemes introduced by the government like mid day meal scheme, ladli scheme, etc.
A good example of initiatives by local governments that has started in Hyderabad is the formation of SHE teams and SHE shuttles. SHE teams is a group of women officers who help women whenever and wherever a problem arises and when they need and ask for help. Women can also reach them through whatsapp when they cannot approach them personally. SHE shuttle is the name of buses which are introduced by the government which are exclusively for women.
Women are also making conscious efforts to empower other women by forming self help groups. These self-help groups encourage women to step out of their households. Self-help groups are primarily created so that women can contribute a little amount of money monthly or weekly as per their needs, and when there is sufficient amount they can opt for a loan and start their own business. As the loan is issued on the name of the group, the banks sanction loans readily. These groups also provide women a platform to discuss their problems, talk about health, and also about current and public affairs. By this they are more informed and can also find collective solution to their problems.
We need to create a society that provides equal opportunities for women, in terms of career and otherwise, a society where women can just be themselves. The first step would be to provide them with an environment in which they will be comfortable and free of any fear ? A safe and enabling environment.
-Contributed by Sadiya Rahmath, School- VIDYANJALI HIGH SCHOOL
Picture Credits: equalpowerlastingpeace.org