Treat her equally

Treat her equally
Highlights

At a panel discussion on women where I was a panelist, the moderator asked What are the careers best suited to women I quickly asked her to frame her question differently and ask, Who are the persons suited to a particular career Looking at careers based on inclination and qualification provides a level playing field possible only if we ask the right questions

At a panel discussion on women where I was a panelist, the moderator asked “What are the careers best suited to women?” I quickly asked her to frame her question differently and ask, “Who are the persons suited to a particular career?” Looking at careers based on inclination and qualification provides a level playing field possible only if we ask the right questions.

Stereotyping and assigning certain jobs as more suitable to women and others as ‘cut out’ for men results in the perpetuation of gender stereotypes, bias and discrimination which does not augur well for an equal world. Despite a marked improvement and great strides towards gender equality over the years the practice of treating boys and girls differently based on their gender continues to be a big part of our culture. The patriarchal mindset makes us more protective of our daughters and more permissive with our sons. If we want change to set in at a deeper and more permanent level, we need to parent kids with the fairness they deserve.

Since childhood girls are expected to help around the house while boys are waited upon,teaching them a “learned helplessness”. This also conveys the message that a home is a women’s domain alone, a fact reinforced beyond doubt in all school textbooks.When a boy climbs atop a jungle jim and dangles upside down, a mother watches proudly but as she spots her daughter do the same she lurches forward in fear.

If girls and boys are allowed to work and play as per their interest and not gender they will be happier whatever they do both as children and adults. Every time we treat a girl differently we are unfortunately communicating the message that they need to be dependent on someone’s protection for their well being. Father, brother, husband or son expecting her to live a life defined by their expectations is a source of misery for most women who feel grateful for being “allowed” to pursue their interests, if at all. When home is considered a place where all members share responsibility equally, we are making a case for gender equality that is natural and fulfilling.

Parenting expert and child psychologist from Australia Steve Biddulph in his bestselling book “10 Things Girls Need Most to Grow Up Strong and Free “says they need a secure and loving childhood, friendship skills, the respect and love of a father, a spark, aunties, a happy and healthy sexuality, backbone, feminism and spirit. Feminism is listed as one of the components here because a lot of problems faced by women and girls are not individual problems but the result of forces, inequalities stigmas and abuses over the years.

Giving access to education , sports and all round development to girls, teaching them to be self reliant, capable of protecting themselves and above all telling them that “thinking right” is more important than” looking right” will go a long way in ensuring that girls grow up to be confident women. When you think equal, you are equal.

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