Gender is very much a 20th century consciousness. It was only sometime back that I was working on subject matter relating to gender egalitarian practices when this happened.
I was engrossed in my work when the contractor came up with the estimate for construction of the new restaurant wing. I asked him to bring down the budget. He said that all his prices were reasonable but; there was a way. He told me that if I hired more female workers then it could work out within my desired estimate. I could not fathom what-so-ever was the connection between the evaluated cost and employing women labourers. I was appalled to learn of his ailing thoughts. He said, “Female labourers are not much employed so I would get cheap crude labour in abundance and further more I could bargain indiscrimately with them.
I was sickened to learn such thoughts were still nurtured. To talk about hard working women as if they were vegetables whose price could be bargained? But I couldn’t blame him either. It is our history and culture that has been handed over generations after.
This led me to a certain line of thought. I was numb to my surroundings when a thought materialized like effervescence. Why is that “man” is the term used to denote humanity or to say explicitly “mankind” refers to the human race but “woman” is just for the female sex. Why is it that humanity is not denoted as the “womankind”? It may perhaps be more reasonable to do so because, all may accept it or not, all are a part of “the womankind”, a part of her flesh and blood.
It also struck me that it was not just the poor women who were exempted from the right to education but also the rich though later down the ladder of years the rich were allowed, though scarce liberties.
But yet they did have no say in decision making leave aside the rights to property ownership. But this was not the worst scenario that was being caricatured in my head there was still more to be delivered. Women did not even have reproductive rights; they did not have the ownership to their own body. Is this believable!!
Certain statistics pertaining to the women sect is even more agonizing. Women form almost half of the total population but only two – thirds are allowed the freedom to work and worst only 1% have the right to property because of the over dominating patriarchal system . After all this we boast of being educated and of open thoughts!!
It is not only in India that this problem exists but it is nurtured in every crevice that is not nutritioned by education. People need to understand that sex and gender are completely different terms; where sex is completely biological, gender is a social conditioning, which has brought this divide.
It is not that it’s only a man’s fault; it is also about the women not protesting and demanding their rights. It was not until the late 19th century that women’s right to vote was acknowledged and demanded. We are still progressing and are not yet up to the level of abundant fulfillment where there remains no scope for further advancements.