She looked around and could see all women in the room, she sighed she felt safe but was disappointed there was no male attending the seminar.
This was a seminar about women empowerment and had no male representation. She asked the question – how can we make this a safe place for women. What is the government doing for reducing the gender gap, how is the organization ensuring that women are given equal opportunities, how are they reducing the pay gap, will organizations provide flexibility to women so they can take care of work and family. How do government, organizations ensure that there is representation of women at the top spots.
She felt that she was victimized subject to abuse and also sidelined even though she is talented. Why can’t this world see things from her eyes; understand the pain and discomfort she has to go through even when growing up? Why can’t the male species understand her better, why can’t they make things a little easier?
Why do women feel like victims and that everything needs to be done by someone else? Why do women feel helpless and that nothing is in their control. She reflected on her life and how she behaved in her own house. When she had to make a choice of sending her son or daughter to school, did her son get more privileges over her daughter? He can do whatever he wants because he is a boy.
She introspected have I used the word girl / daughter derogatorily she asked herself. She could think of the below examples where she felt she compared her son and daughter and unconsciously biased their thoughts that women is weaker.
- By telling my son “why are you crying like a girl, only girls cry” – “Boys don’t cry, boys are strong”
- We tell our daughters” its ok to cry” and things like “ you should not talk in loud tones, or argue with anyone” “You should not fight back” “You are a girl and girls have to be silent and listen”
- “You are girl so you need to know how to cook and do the household work”
- Football is not for girls, you can make painting, singing as your hobby
- “You are not a boy”, You are not strong like boys so don’t play with them” ,”You should play in the house” You should not play on the playground you will get hurt” “you should play only with girls.”
- Pink is for girls and Blue is for boys. “ Why are you wearing pink, pink is only for girls”
- “Barbie’s are for girls, cars are for boys”
Knowingly or unknowingly we have influenced the dos and don’ts in our children life and that is what gets played out as they grow older. They are boxed and prototyped into behaving in a way fit for boy and a girl. The pressure of being accepted is so high that children too fall in line to follow the behavior. How a girl is treated at home is how she gets treated in the society. Simple things like who gets served food first indicates who is given priority at home.
If a boy sees it is acceptable to not do any household work, disrespect his sister and be treated like a king by his mother and sister and other family members. That is what he is going to expect from all women in the world. Children learn from the family members and that is how they behave in world. Some things don’t even have to be spoken or taught to children, they are good listeners and learn fast, they just observe what’s happening in the family and emulate the same as they grow up. For them that is the first exposure and what they observe and accept is what they think and assume to be acceptable and correct.
Think back about a time when your daughter wanted to participate in sports or an adventurous activity in another location or country. Or wanted to pursue higher education or sports or even go out for an overnight picnic. What has been your response, yes go for it, or yes but be careful, or no, why do you want to do it. Or you are a girl and girls don’t do that.
Why should organizations care if the employee is male or female? They are happy if they have a performing employee? If employees are performing and give their best output profiting the organization, it doesn’t matter if that employee is a male or female. Why should companies care if you have a family, a work life balance to manage that is for you to manage it doesn’t matter if you are male or female. Why should companies have reservations for women, if you are talented you will get the job. Because if you are the best engineer you will give your best and it will be noticed and you will get your due. What organizations should do is have equal opportunities for both genders, remove any biases to ensure that the best talent has access and gets the deserving reward.
Why blame the government for not enforcing stronger laws which are protecting women. I ask you why can’t we change the society’s mindset towards the women. We can have the strictest law, however if there is no change in mindset of people then that law is futile.
If a woman dresses, or talks differently than the acceptable norm then she is frowned on. A person can lustfully look at a woman and get away with it. There is nothing that the law can do in this. However if we change the DNA of our families which in turn impact people around us and the society at large, we will be able to change the way a woman is viewed and respected. It all begins how we manage our relationships at home. A small change can go a long way to impact the overall attitude including our own towards the progress of woman.
At times a woman is a woman’s enemy she needs to be less critical and more supportive. If Woman accept that they are empowered and start making their decisions and be responsible for their life it will be bring about change. If every woman takes it upon on herself to make some small changes within her influence, she will bring out and impact larger changes. No point for waiting for laws to be passed or for organizations to provide more lucrative salaries or roles. It is up to each women to stand up for herself and make some small behavior changes.
I am my own role model as I am unique and as there is no one like me. The change begins with me. I am my own hero.