“We are starting a new branch so we need a legal officer who can help us start the company and assist in the legal work of financial transactions. If you are willing to work, I will immediately set up your meeting with our board members. There you will be briefed about the work in detail.”
“Sure Sir! Let’s have the meeting tomorrow and I shall give you the final decision considering the nature of work”.
Rima (name changed) then discussed her new job description with her family.
“I don’t think working in a new firm would be easy for you. There will be tough challenges. Why don’t you continue your internship in the NGO? You can then eventually prepare for Lok Sewa and get a government job which is safe and secure. Don’t go after money right now,” her brother said.
“Ok but let me attend the meeting first. That way I will know the work details and decide what to do,” she said.
“Don’t you think I am capable enough to decide what’s good and bad for you?” her brother said.
My friend Rima was the victim of “disturbed social grooming”. Today everyone complains about our patriarchal society but knowingly or unknowingly they promote it. Nobody intends to differentiate their sons and daughters but most of us fail to see the ongoing discrimination.
As children, boys and girls are brought up in similar manner. They are provided with same opportunities, environment and encouragement. Thus, girls don’t think they are different from boys.
However, when it comes to work, girls and women are exposed to a variety of societal expectations and censorship. Take Rima for instance, her own brother doesn’t think she can handle challenges at work. She might fail at work but doesn’t she deserve a chance to make her own mistakes?
If Rima was a guy, the response would have been different:”Champ this is the time to learn, go on, things will be smooth once you start learning stuffs”.
These differences take place in the name of protecting girls. It is not wrong to feel concerned about girls’ safety but it hinders them from living on their terms. Big dreams are never fulfilled without great challenges, so let there be equal challenges for both girls and boys.
Let’s not add extra mental pressure on girls. If there are challenges, find the ways to solve them instead of making them the issues for girls. Threat of violence is more dangerous than the actual violence. Threat of violence keeps us at constant mental threat eventually affecting our ability to give qualitative performance. This threat imposed by the society is a serious violation of girl’s right to equal opportunity and right to live with dignity. Dignity is not chastity; dignity actually is “not being differentiated” in the society.
And, the solution to this difference lies on our perception. I want to travel alone with a bag-pack behind me. Don’t tell me I shouldn’t. If something happens to me, punish the offender but don’t pity on me. Only then I will put my sorrows behind and move ahead.
Let this be a race with same opportunities and challenges for all. If girls go through different set of challenges then it becomes a different race. Let’s bring this generation to compete in the same race – a race in which gender difference is no more an issue.
(Adity is a Program Officer at Collective Campaign for Peace (COCAP) Youth Network.)