Gender Inequality. It takes place in many situations. It is experienced daily throughout the world, from the workplace to the streets, but we fail to notice that it also exists within our very own homes. You see, that’s where it all begins.
I was raised in a conservative Indian family so I’ve seen years of gender inequality in action. I clearly remember the day when I was told: “You have to learn how to cook so that you will be able to provide food to your husband because it’s a woman’s duty. Your brother doesn’t have to worry about looking after a household because he’s a guy”. As a feminist those words hit me hard and broke my heart into pieces. I just couldn’t believe that my family had such nonsensical beliefs. After hearing those words; questions arose in my mind. Why are we considered to be inferior? What is wrong with us women? What is it about us that it becomes so natural that a woman’s job is to stay at home and look after the household and men should to go work? Why are men considered to be strong and women weak? Why? Why? Why? I felt like there was something wrong with me. I felt guilty for being me, I started hating myself.
It is not your mother’s duty to look after you. Your mother did not take care of you because it was plainly her duty, she did it out of love.
In the Indian community, it’s an embarrassment for a girl to not be able to cook, but for a guy, well then it’s perfectly normal. Girls that smoke, drink, get tattoos or do any “disreputable acts” are judged harshly. Guys are given the freedom to act without guilt. Parents force their daughters into arranged marriages at the age of 18 with the intention that the girls don’t get the opportunity to study further or pursue a career. She is never empowered and encouraged to be independent.
Let’s just take a step back and think about this, if you believe that it’s a wife’s duty to look after the household and children, you are implying that it is your mother’s duty to look after you. It is not your mother’s duty to look after you. Your mother did not take care of you because it was plainly her duty, she did it out of love. This mentality is holding you back in life. Successful people don’t make it someone else’s duty to look after them. This mentality encourages you to hold others responsible for your life. Don’t let gender stereotypes limit you as a human being. In order to be successful in life you need to be independent and know how to look after yourself.
The “labels” that were created for us are the root cause of all this inequality. These labels separate human beings into groups. These labels discourage unity and equality. We separate ourselves by colour (Black, white, brown), by religion (Christian, Hindu, Islam), by gender (Men, women), by wealth (rich, poor). Wars are fuelled by labels and have created so many of the world’s problems. Why can’t we just be humans, just be ourselves? Instead of separating everyone because of their differences, can’t we just accept everyone for who they REALLY are?
Parents, if you have a daughter don’t tell her that she needs to learn to look after a household to fulfil her duties as a woman. Tell her that she needs to learn to look after herself and become independent so that when the dark days come around, she is able to rely on no one but herself. Tell her that you are proud of her for the person that she is.
Ladies, if you do come from a home with gender inequality, don’t hate yourself, you are probably an amazing person in spite of the challenges you face. Don’t give up on your dreams, there’s hope. The world has come a long way from women being forced to stay at home. We are increasing the numbers of women in business and leadership positions, but it starts with you. Don’t let what other people think of your life stop you from doing what needs to be done in order for you to be successful. Remove the labels that society has given you. Stand your ground and wake up ready every morning to pursue your dreams. Remember that the only duty that you have is to be yourself.
-Natisha Naran Kara