By Simone Kundu, AFS PEACE Program Alumni 2018

We have 17 topics under Sustainable Development Goals and I chose Gender Equality not because it is the most widespread heat of the year or the decade but, because it is the most essential factor for a living being or let’s say, a human. Fine we need resources, we need water, we need to end up poverty, etc. but, it is just impossible to overcome all these needs with a biased society. I relate to it, every single female in the society relates to it, irrespective of the economic conditions, females with a huge bank account face it and the ones with no bank balance face it too. I’m 17 years old, my dad is a businessman, even after spending 6 months abroad every year, he comes back home having a biased opinion. It’s okay and acceptable if he comes back home at 2 am but it’s unethical if my mother comes back home even at 9 pm. Its okay if my brothers go out to celebrate the new year at midnight but it’s not okay if I go out with a friend at 9. Ultimately, such inequality is NOT OKAY.

Discrimination against women from, or even before birth guarantees them a marginal role in Indian society and ensures that they are left less educated, less employed, less remunerated and less ranked than men.

India’s sex ratio is a demographic indicator which is a cause of concern. According to the 1991 Census there were only 927 women for every 1,000 men. If both sexes were treated equally the ratio estimated for India would be 105 women to every 100 men. With a population of 1 billion, there ought to be 512 million women in the country but instead, the female population was estimated at only 489 million, which implies that there are 25 million “missing women”. These missing women are either killed before their birth so that they are never born, or discriminated in such a way that does not allow them to survive in case if they’re alive.

Simone during AFS PEACE Program Exchange to Italy

All that we do is crib about not being allowed to do all the stuff equally. We tend to blame the society but we don’t realize the fact that we are the ones who make that society.

I often feel as if the term “society” is misused in our world (especially in my generation). Whenever something goes wrong or we feel wrongfully labeled or stereotyped, we “blame the society” not perceiving that Society can be our mom, our professors, our boss, our best friend, the cashier at the target, the janitor at your school, the UPS guy, Beyonce, the guy that voices SpongeBob…WE ARE ALL SOCIETY!

We are the ones who have built these wall. Let’s not bluff ourselves saying it all started in the primitive age, no it didn’t. It’s not very difficult to get the balance back. Change is not inevitable – it happens only when each of us does what we can. Just a few things that everyone could do would change the scenario. Knowing oneself is our first job in life and as women, we need to know ourselves. There is a limited box that we are put in, and if we live by that limited definition we miss out on a lot of who we are.

First lets not just educate females (Beti Bachao Beti Padhao), it’s important to educate both the genders.  We educated males and we have a male dominant society, I fear if we impose the same on girls now, we’ll have a female dominant society. but what we need is a society where both the genders are equal.

Second, lets just not teach our brothers and sons to respect their sisters and mothers, for example, I’ll be wrong if I ask my brother to respect women in case if I myself don’t respect men because that again would just be restricted to one face of the society. We will have to learn how to respect each other. Mutual respect for all irrespective of their sex, caste, socio-economic status, religion, region, and educational status should exist. These are core values which start getting ingrained in young minds from an early age and hence, it is important to imbibe mutual and unconditional respect, equality and opportunity amongst all to lay a strong foundation for a gender-equal society.

Encourage your kid to play with toys of his/her choice: While buying toys for the little ones, people generally ask for gender-specific toys, like toy guns or race cars for boys and princess dolls and vanity sets for girls. What message are we sending to our children when we ourself give them these gender-specific toys? So, the next time you go to a toy store, let your kids buy toys of their choice rather than forcing them to pick one based on their gender. Also, let them chose the color themselves, it’s not that pink for girls and blue for boys.

Be aware of gender stereotypes: Gender stereotypes affect men and women in every sphere of life and are huge obstacles to gender equality. Recognize such stereotypes and avoid them.

Share the workload at home: Even though we’ve been saying it from ages that we should distribute household chores, again, we should insist and encourage our brothers and sons to help clean the house or cook and etc.

I have a brother too and I really don’t it like when he doesn’t help us with the household chores so I handle it either way,

  1. I will complain to my mother that he is not doing anything because he is a boy, which will give importance to the fact that he believes that being a boy he shouldn’t do anything because no other boy does it.
  2. Or else I’ll l make it a fun activity and ask him competitively encouraging questions like, “who’s better at craft” or “who chops faster and better” so that he does the needful work along with me.

Balancing this inequality is not at all hard, we just need to keep a few things in mind, and following them would make things better.