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#SHEFORHE Equality: A Façade ?

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It is surprising that although female feticide is such a huge issue in our country (Nepal), the data for it is still debatable and unrecorded. However, it is estimated that at least 50,000 female fetuses are killed in the womb. I assume this number is higher in reality. And while I looked into this number and thought about the things people say, it made me wonder even more.

They said, “Girls and boys are the same. What a boy can do, a girl can do. Give her education, empower her and you will see how worthy she can prove to be!” Those words are so true. Women are as capable, if not more, when it comes to taking care of her family. An educated woman can hold a job, earn an income and be a true asset to the society. But is this enough?

Is this enough to motivate people to want a girl child equally as much as a boy? Forget about rural societies where everyday culture is so different from urban cities. This preference for sons is observable even amongst urban areas.

The concept of ‘needing a son to take care of the family business’ is additionally quite prevalent among rich and affluent families. The daughters of those families are equally educated, but somehow it is a ‘man’ who needs to be there to take care of business.

So, my question here is why are we only advocating boys and girls being equal while they are in the womb? Why does that equality concept wane as the girl gets older? Shouldn’t women be equal to their male counterparts even after they get married?

Think about it, if men and women are equal then why is it that only the woman needs to leave her home? If they are truly equal, why does she drop her family name and pass her husband’s name to their children? Isn’t this unfair?

One might fiercely advocate that women can be breadwinners, but those breadwinners once married become part of another family, another society. With such a cultural tendency wouldn’t sons still be a preferred investment and insurance for the future? A father with no sons fails to pass on his family name, his legacy. With such thoughts wouldn’t couples prefer a continuity of their bloodline? It is remarkable how women, even educated ones, are just erased from the equation, segregated as mere vessels of birthing.

Perhaps men should move out of their houses too after marriage and the couple be given equal opportunity to take care of their respective families diseased.

But, perhaps it is wrong to be surprised, wrong to feel offended when our own government doesn’t recognize women as full citizens. Women have no rights to confer citizenship to her children on her own. She needs a husband or a father to do so. In such a context, such a world, how can the government campaign with full integrity that a girl and a boy child are equal, when they grow up to have such uniquely different rights?

Perhaps a girl and boy will never be looked upon as equals until society sees men and women as being equal. Perhaps, a change in thought and tradition will come when the phrase ‘ghar jwai’ isn’t seen as an insult, but seen as a decisive choice.

Perhaps men should move out of their houses too after marriage and the couple be given equal opportunity to take care of their respective families. Perhaps, perhaps then, men and women would appear equal within society. If children could also inherit their mothers’ names, then perhaps the next generation would grow up not knowing these gender biases.

The eve gene or mitochondrial DNA that humans have is inherited only through mothers. Man or woman, we each have a mitochondrial DNA that can be traced back to history from one mother to the next and so on and so forth. With that concept, wouldn’t it be really awesome if daughters continued with their mother’s names and passed that on to their daughters?

How long will we only keep saying men and women are equal? When will we actually sit and think about the differences? When will we actually put into practice what we have memorized and repeated in words? And once again, the question arises, how can we think of girls and boys being equal when we as adults experience such demarcations? Are we, ladies and gentlemen, truly really equal?

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Jasmine Tempa

Jasmine Tempa

Contributor at TNM Magazine

Listening to women is not the strongest weapon in our Arsenal, but what they have to say can seriously be of good use. Jasmine is a medical doctor by profession but she is also a free thinker who likes to put things in perspective. Her take on what men should know is definitely something worth knowing.