Devki is a 14-year-old girl from a Dalit community in Uttar Pradesh. Her parents never sent her to school, while her brother Pintu (10 years) goes to a Hindi-medium government school. Pintu has a classmate, Twinkle, who belongs to an upper caste. On asking the reason for Devki not attending school, Pintu told her that girls from his community do not go to school. Twinkle said, “Oh! Girls from our community are sent to Hindi- medium government schools but all boys are sent to English medium schools.
If you notice, Devki and Twinkle are both subjected to unfair partial conduct. While Twinkle is discriminated against due to her gender, Devki is discriminated against for both her gender and caste. Religion and caste-based biases have been prevalent globally. These layers of intersectional discrimination towards women, deny them of basic rights like education, physical and mental health, protection of their modesty, and sometimes even survival.
Let’s talk about how can we make an effort to prevent discrimination towards women:
1. Start Young
Discriminating children based on their gender at a young age forms a pillar of their identity and outlook as they grow up. Phrases like ‘Girls have to learn cooking and cleaning if they want to get married”, create a gender stereotype in their mind. These are necessities for survival which should not be gender-specific. Similarly, even boys should not be subjected to comments like ‘ Stop crying like a girl’ or ‘Boys don’t play with dolls’, etc. Let’s face it, such comments only widen the gap between the genders at a very young age.
The HeForShe movement was initiated in 2014 to encourage men and boys in promoting gender equality. Feminism is not a female’s movement, but it is a movement by everyone who promotes the idea of equal rights for men and women. As per a survey conducted, a mere 20% of the Americans consider themselves feminists, whereas 82% of them believe in equal rights for men and women. Well if you believe in equal rights means you are a Feminist. The reason people don’t want to be called feminist is because of the several myths associated with it like ‘Feminists hate men’, ‘Feminism is about proving women are superior to men’, ‘Only women can be feminists’, ‘Marriage as an institution is not accepted by feminists’, etc. Well, Feminism is nothing like this and just believing in equal rights for all genders makes oneself a feminist and there is nothing wrong for men to promote the idea of equality.
3. Voice concerns over discrimination
While the first step should be to not hold any prejudice towards anyone based on their caste, gender, religion, etc., the next step should be to not tolerate such a biased attitude. Whether discrimination is faced by yourself or someone else, voicing the concern makes a lot of difference. Depending on the degree of discrimination, the social or legal remedy should be sought immediately.
4. Support NGOs
There are a plethora of NGOs working towards the empowerment and upliftment of women. Your contributions need not be restricted to monetary donations, you may volunteer in various other ways for creating awareness about basic women rights, educating them, providing vocational training, etc.
5. Use social media
We are aware of the impact of social media. Use the help of social media to create awareness and support efforts made by women to overcome the centuries-long atrocities inflicted upon them for belonging to a so-called ‘inferior gender’.
A collective effort by all genders today would lead to a better tomorrow for everyone. By empowering women, you will empower the entire human race.