Mrs. Kapoor tells her daughter to come back home by 6 p.m. whereas her ‘only’ son has the liberty to stay out till 1 am. This small example from a household has now become the everyday scenario in the society. What level of education are we talking about because I believe that a person can remain uneducated if she/he wants to no matter the number of degrees one holds? The basic difference between literacy and education needs to be understood in the first place. Where literacy accounts to the basic learning needs, education in the status quo is considered to be incomplete without a degree.
A literate person who is below the BPL may or not understand gender equality and similarly a well-educated man (all suited up) may fail to understand the basic idea of gender equality which clearly proves that education is an insufficient mean in achieving gender equality.
The choice of students which students are given at the high school is a clear reflection of how education is at extreme with gender equality. Where boys are expected to take up science and computer applications as the additional subject, girls are expected to take up arts and home science as their additional subject since people believe it would benefit them in future. What future are we talking about? The point is how many girls actually reach that level in a narrow minded patriarchal society.
This may sound shocking to men who have their neck held high almost reaching the sky for no reason that women do 60% of the work in the world. In contrast to that they just hold a mere share of 10% in the income and 1% in property. What we need to understand is that the stereotypes constructed in the society cannot be simply broken or even shaken by imparting formal education. Looking at the whole problem from the grassroot level – why are sons sent to school and daughters made to sit at home to learn the household work?
It is only because the family believes that the son would earn one day whereas the daughter would simply get married and go to some other man’s house. Where it is about lack of awareness and stereotypes in the backward classes, it is about hypocrisy in the so called elite upper classes. Why are women given the peripheral jobs which offer less salary than those to men? Ever thought about it? The only justification one can think of is the whole idea of men being the ‘breadwinners’ of the family whereas women being the secondary source of income. Female doctors in the USA earn $17,000 less than their male counterparts and the difference can only be explained in terms of the psyche upheld by the society. So, this is not just in India but something that has plagued the whole world. Even if a woman gets promoted because she is capable enough people it to have happened in exchange of ‘sexual favors.’
Cases of dowry, rape, domestic violence and female feticide further reduce the status of women to ‘son bearing’ reproductive machines. This reminds me of a story I had read by Ambai(C.S. Lakshmi) where she talked about how the female body being invaded and how
“Your womb and your breasts will fall away from you…the sparkle of jewelry will disappear. And there will be you. Not trapped nor diminished by gender, but freed.”
The media advertisements in majority either portray women as the ideal housewives or ideal mother figures where they manage both the private and the public sphere ‘alone’ whereas men are only involved in the public sphere. If that is equality then I have no problem with it.
The land and property rights do not do much justice to women either since the major power lies in the hand of the patriarch. Talking of the LGBT community, they cannot practice free will because we are not ready to evolve. Discussing about something and actually doing it are two different things. How can education guarantee gender equality when the structures that are patriarchal in the society are not willing to change?
How can education change one’s psyche? Women have always identified themselves with the weaker sex because they have given in to the societal pressure and have now become agents to carry forward gender inequality in the society. The glass ceiling which needs to be broken still remains intact. I fail to understand one basic thing, “If not now, then when?”