The changing role of women in India is evident in the many successful women today, yet a certain section still reeks badly of gender bias. I thank my parents for shielding me from this, and for giving me my wings. Gender bias is deeply rooted in Indian society. In fact, over the years, it has seeped in through the walls and pillars, like a monsoon mold. No one can change this fact; I have tried on a personal level, and failed miserably. I will highlight a few points on the condition of Indian women, in this article.
The problem with gender bias in Indian society is that it is the females, who promote the very existence and growth of this discrimination in India. The pity is that they don't even realize that their status is bad. Forget the nationwide gender bias; let's take a look at a few household examples.
I have seen my mother do it, but I know I can't (rather can, but won't). Whenever there is a social function or festive occasion, I am shocked at the ability of women to be self-oppressed. Twenty thousand people (that is an exaggeration) will be invited for dinner, and all the ladies will pack themselves in the kitchen since morning, getting the million things ready. The males will be out, running errands or chatting with the guests. I may sound bitter, but I strongly feel that this is wrong. Don't you? I sometimes wonder how they can enjoy the festive mood amidst all the cooking and cleaning. The role of women in the Indian society has solely become that of an oil, that keeps the household machinery running smoothly. It is the cooking, the cleaning, and the housekeeping (not to forget child bearing), that has kept them busy all these years, and this is not changing with the changing times.
Some households are progressive; they employ cooks to do the catering. Yet again, the household females go in and out, the whole day long, to serve the guests in the traditional Indian hierarchy: the patriarch and the older males, then the junior males, then the matriarch and the older females and lastly the junior females. The poor ladies end up eating their lunches past tea time. It is sad but true, that many in India actually justify it.
How can I forget the dress code. Many families in India insist that a sari be worn by the women, at all special occasions. While I am all for it, I hate the compulsion. A lady should wear what she wants to wear, because she has the right. Many will stand up and question this statement saying, "What if she comes wearing a skirt?" While I do not condone it, I still believe that it is her right and choice. I don't see anyone forcing the males to wear a dhoti?
I especially hate it, when some elderly woman says that this is a custom, and has to be done, for we also did it and so should you. Worse is, when they say that you must do so because you were born a female. That is the sad irony of being a woman in India. There are still families, that will not allow their girl child to play cricket or lingorcha with a bunch of boys. Why? She's just playing, isn't she! Let her choose her friends, her games, her career, and her guy; she deserves it. Let your daughter be. Don't be the fence that keeps her imprisoned. Set her free, and she will make you proud.
The list can go on and on. Right from her birth till the day she passes away, a female faces discrimination in Indian society. The rights and position of women are really bad, compared to world standards. I wonder when people will wake up to the fact that they are strong powerhouses, capable of achieving things beyond the household threshold if provided with the opportunity. My personal opinion is that women can surpass males in all fields. If that ever becomes a reality, I am sure the women will be more considerate at the time of such a social role reversal.
I believe that these redundant and obsolete customs are still being followed in an otherwise progressed India, because we women let them happen. Until someone stands up for herself, and gives a resolute 'no', things will not change. We need the herd hypothesis to stick, for the others to follow. Until some woman starts changing her household, other households will not follow. The problem needs to be nipped in the bud, at the household level, to cure the country of it. Question is, will you ladies let this change happen, or will you, like always, act to your own detriment?
It is the small household gender discrimination, that leads on to bigger, national problems. Stop right there and correct the system, for it is all in your hands. The first step to change lies in accepting that there is a problem. I will be waiting for the time when I can scream at the top of my voice, "I am proud to be an Indian!"