India has been a country where prominent political figures, billionaires, several prominent CEOs, and half of locally elected government representatives have been women. Whereas, in that same country, one-third of adult women are illiterate living in villages and small districts, marital rape is not illegal, sex-selective abortions and female infanticides are still widely practiced irrespective of several legal provisions.
Since ancient times, gender inequality has been a social and widely practiced issue in India. The Birth of a girl child is not acknowledged and the need for male heir is given a preference, majorly in middle class families. Discrimination occurs before the girl child is born and earlier she used to be killed as a foetus. This practice is known as Female Foeticide. If she somehow survives, she is killed as an infant, the practice known as Female Infanticide. This makes up the child sex ratio where for every 1000 boys there are only 914 girls in India. In such a scenario, it has been researched that for such socially backward reasons, several girls across the country are forced to drop out of school in early ages and made to learn to cook and take care of their younger siblings. In India, patriarchal norms have identified women as inferior to men. A girl child is considered a burden. It is impossible to imagine the backwardness of such society in the 21st Century, where women have proven themselves to be better and stronger leaders in every possible field. From being an entrepreneur, to sportswomen, becoming a wrestler, businesswomen, architect, engineer and doctors, diving the deepest waters to climbing the highest peaks, to reaching the International Space Station, the world has been revolutionised by extraordinary and exceptional women leaders in fields that used to be completely dominated by men.
But in spite of such advancements, even today, the girl child is discriminated against in most Indian households. The birth of a boy is celebrated with great ardour, but the birth of a girl child is received with dismay and discomfort. Female Foeticide is still practiced through sex selective abortion, in spite of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994. In India the child sex ratio is at the lowest it has ever been with just 914 girls for every 1000 boys as of Census, 2011.
This discrimination continues in every aspect, be it health, education, participation or protection, the women are always treated unequally. Despite several Feminist lectures and seminars, Indian society still needs to learn and understand the importance of empowering the women.
Feminism means a society where women are assigned equal and better opportunities. A society where nobody discourages the powers and capabilities of a woman. The women should have equal rights, duties, and opportunities in every field of profession. The world in 21st Century has seen a huge uprising of women from villages to the most advanced cities. Women leaders like Melinda Gate, Sania Mirza, Wu Yi, Indira Gandhi, Indra Nooyi, Maneka Gandhi, Hillary Clinton, Lady Gaga, P. T. Usha, Michelle Obama, Sonia Gandhi, Angela Markel, Kate Middleton, Christine Lagarde, etc. are some of the extraordinary examples of the idea of feminism.
During the conceptualisation in the 19th Century, feminism was the battle of equality. Women rose together and united for equality in quality of life, profession and to explain their opinions in public platforms and society. The popular movements started when women demanded the right to vote, pursue a profession and fought for discrimination on the grounds of Gender. Feminism was backed by actions and not merely words as there were credible women fighting their way to become a successful lawyer, doctor, spacewomen, athelete, courtesan, etc. Feminism meant as the point of being heard.
However, in today’s advance world, feminism is kind of a claim that people venture after to embark on a journey that proves Power or exhibits a higher Status. Some men and women have lost out the true essence of what is regarded as feminism and exhibit toxic traits that are bad for social and mental development, interpersonal relationships and society at large. These are what one calls as Pseudo-Feminists or Faux-Feminists.
The Indian society is filled with pseudo feminists, every family has one to burst the cloud. A girl in her adolescent years whether going out with friends, drinking alcohol, wearing jeans, bralettes, heals, nail paints, buying contraceptive pills or packet of condoms is subject to be judged by the society, who on the other side support equality towards women, equal representation of women, not to discriminate women for what they wear, what they purchase, what they crave for. Our society has never accepted the fact that a woman has a right to buy a box of contraceptive pills, pack of condoms, file for a divorce, engage in midnight parties in a company of men and women. Aborting a child in India is very often considered as against the Indian Customs and Traditions irrespective of a woman’s right to abort the child as per her personal decisions.
The culture of surveillance on women is widely practiced and upscaled in India often termed as ‘Ladki Hath Se Nikal Jayegi’. Young men and women having shared a same property is considered unethical and against the society, often trained as the ‘Western Culture’.
Situation in India:
Labour women in India spend more hours a day on unpaid care of their families while men devote minimal on an average. The burden of unpaid care by women results in losing out on equal opportunities to participate in paid labour or are forced to undertake paid labour leading to poverty and loss in well-being. This disproportionate system leaves women vulnerable mainly in villages and small towns.
In January 2019, a survey of 1,000 households across the states of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh, revealed that it was acceptable to criticise and beat women if they slipped up while carrying out unpaid care work. In turn, violence continuously sets women back economically. It’s a vicious cycle.
Overcoming the Impact:
Pseudo Feminism can just be beaten in open conversations. Open communication can follow up a trail of arguments, disagreement, fights and eventually a calm conversation. It is never always easy to build a sonority with someone who is so fixed in their ideas and just don’t dislodge. A professional life coaching or counselling can help the person or society and untangle the web of false claims, woven due to righteousness and complex analogy of right and wrong.
People should be taught about the concept of empowerment. However, the lesson should extend to those who are fully bent on exploiting its virtue for their personal gain. Feminism is simply a concept of levelled perception and equal growth and opportunities.
“The views of the authors are personal“
- The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961) (Amended in 1986), http://ncw.nic.in/sites/default/files/THEDOWRYPROHIBITIONACT1961_0.pdf
- The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, http://ncw.nic.in/sites/default/files/The_Criminal_Law_Amendment_Act_2013_0.pdf
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