Celebrating the spirit of womanhood shouldn’t be limited to just one day, do you all agree? But March 8 , is international women’s day, the day that marks a call to action for accelerating women equality.
The theme for this year being #breakthebias, something that we have all wanted to experience. A world that is free of stereotypes and discrimination.
All that we long for is a world that celebrates equality and being inclusive. Eagerly look forward to a world that celebrates the differences and making it valued. When is that day going to dawn upon us?
All day and everyday we are all responsible for our actions anda thinking. The workspace, communities, schools, colleges can with #breakthebias provided we take the right actions.
Seeing the world biased makes it difficult for women to move forward. All the more even if the bias is being done deliberately or unconscious.
Realising that there is bias isn’t enough, it needs the be called out, it needs action to stop it from being done going forward.
This year the UN Women and the world come together for the theme’ Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’ and call for climate action for women by women.
We now see a vital link between gender, social equity and climate change which puts forth the point clearly that gender equality not happening will not guarantee a sustainable future that will remain out of reach.
Women depend more on the natural resources but have less access to it. The climate change puts forward it’s great impact on women as it amplifies the gender inequality and puts their lives at risk.
This is because they bear a disproportionate responsibility for securing food, water and fuel.
As women bear the burden, they play a vital role in bringing about a change by leading and driving changes in adapting, mitigating and offering climate solutions.
So if this change is to be brought out, the half of the population of the world has to be included , and with that not happening it is unlikely that there will be a sustainable planet and a gender equal world tomorrow.
If patriarchy had a specific beginning in history,
It can also have an end.
– Maria Miles
Patriarchy is a system in a society, where the male gender hold the power and the females are excluded. Given a super power this word is in the top of my list of words to be removed from dictionary.
The term in itself might sound new to many but is an age old practice that’s been there in the families for long. A lot more women and a handful of men who understand that this needs to end have taken necessary steps to get this out. But the efforts are all still only a drop in the ocean. But nevertheless it cannot be ignored and such experiences can motivate more people to come forward to get rid of it permanently.
What made me write this article is a recent movie that me and the hubster sat down to watch during one of the weekends.
“ The Great Indian Kitchen” it is. The movie has been getting attention from all directions as in the sub titles made it easier that people from er languages also geared interest to watch it. Not to forget the fact that the movie got released in a much lesser known OTT platform, people even went to the extent of paying the membership just to watch this movie. Thank goodness the movie stirred up a lot of news and Amazon decided to stream it on their platforms , that it saved me from spending on a new OTT membership. Glad this happened else that would have been one more reason for me to brood.
The film is set in Kerala, where in a newly wed couple start getting to know each other. That’s what happens in arranged marriages. You don’t immediately let your husband take up kitchen duties or pitch in to help, because it’s a society governed by patriarchy.
A typical morning in the house, and as the scenes unfold the husband does not even drop his coffee mug in the sink and that is the duty of the wife. Should I mention as one of the duty? The mother in law makes elaborate preparations chopping vegetables, grinding, tossing vessels, cookers what not. What I thought was supposed to be a lunch preparation turned out to be the scene for breakfast.
Not to mention the chutneys being ground on mortar and pestle and dosas straight to the plate from tawas. To top it all the way in which the father and son eat literally got me sick as I was having my lunch.
The mother in law and daughter in law sit down on the same table which the daughter in law finds difficult to cope. It looks like the mother in law has no voice to speak against such practices or is gotten used to adjusting. The level of treatment the men expect goes to Himalayan heights when the father in law is given the toothbrush with paste in hand to go brush the teeth and slippers being delivered right at his feet when he steps out. Blood boiled that I had to turn it off to calm myself for a while before I resumed watching.
The mother in law leaves abroad to help her pregnant daughter leaving all the responsibilities and duties to take care of the immature children of the house( the father and son). What started off to be a little hectic gets worse in one or two days. The never ending chores in kitchen , house cleaning , washing clothes makes her tense. To add to the woes the kitchen sink starts to leak which is left unattended even after multiple reminders she does so that her husband calls up the plumber.
The husband who is a shabby eater in the house is a perfect gentleman with table manners at the restaurant. When commented he gets pissed and makes the woman apologize. Atrocities!
The poor thing when she decides to take up a job is being advised by the father in law to leave all the thought because that’s what the mother in law did. Makes me want to question, who are these people to give opinions if a girl should work or no? All the education and experience only to wash clothes by hand and pound chutneys in mortar is highly unacceptable. It is really saddening to see that women in yester generation continue to do all this for their husbands and son and also give unrealistic hopes that the daughter in law who comes in will continue to do the same.
Being a millennial parent, it is our duty to raise sons who will equally respect the female gender. Raise sons who will cook, clean and help the women in the family. Raise sons who will do their own chores which includes keeping their rooms, tables clean , help in putting away dishes to sink and give some rest to the ever working women in the family.
Do not glorify if men in the home do this or tell the woman she is lucky to have them do all this. Let’s normalize such behaviour from men.
It was said in olden days that” the key to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. Whoever said that only meant tasty food not sumptuous spreads for every meal of the day that also includes room service to clear away mugs, plates and not to mention the leftover clean up after they ate.
Mentioning the clean up, I feel even diaper duties were far better after I saw the table in that movie.
The generation we now are supports equal parenting and gender equality. Let the men of the family take up kitchen duties during the period when the women menstruate, not citing purity as reasons as I also do not believe in it. This is just to make them capable of taking it up and not just relying upon women for food and everything.
Stop practicing that women should serve food to men and should serve themselves. Change that. Either sit together for a meal or have the men serve you once they finish. I don’t think that is going to reduce their worth or what so ever.
Raise your sons equivalent to your daughters. Do not practice gender based chores at home, it has to be shared equally. Only if this is done , your daughter in law would be happy that she is into a home that believes in modern way of thinking rather than surrendering to patriarchy.
Recently a picture that brought tears was a woman with an oxygen concentrator cooking in the kitchen captioned unconditional love= mother. This is the result of patriarchy. The person has no shame in portraying the suffering of the mother. The picture brought in a lot of negative traction. The women need to stand up against such practices.
It all comes down to making a change . Be the change to see more people joining you.
Men can make their own coffee or tea and can clean up. They can also look up simple recipes to cook, just saying.
If the daughter in law decides to make a change support them and don’t stand as a hindrance as push them into the same pit.
Do not raise sons with expectations that the wife will take care of everything for him just like how she does.
For the mind disturbed, the still beauty of dawn is nature’s finest balm.”
– Edwin Way Teale
There are a number of reasons for the human mind to be disturbed. It could be stress, peer pressure, the family’s financial state , problems in relationship or even something that involves kids or even making kids. So the list goes on but the only end result would be a disturbed mind.
The loss of a loved one is definitely a permanent scar that will keep ringing in the mind. No matter how hard you try it’s like the waves that keep hitting the shore. A minute thing be it physical or an emotional occurrence that brings a quick memory flash. It takes time to heal and get back. Days, months or even years.
“When we lose someone we must not learn to live without them, but to learn to live with the love they left behind.”
Harini had been trying hard to believe that the hands that she held while growing up is now no more. Brothers and sisters are as close and hands and feet. And to believe that it is gone too soon was not something that happens overnight.
She wanted a change to move on. That is when Prashanth, her husband decides to sign her up for fair Anita travel program.
Fair Anita is asocial enterprise that supports women artisans from around the world. Most of these artisans are victims are domestic violence and support their livelihood with income from making exquisite handmade jewelry. Fair Anita has currently about 8000 women artisans who earn three times the minimum wage. This trade is the sustainable revenue opportunity for these women. Fair Anita was founded in 2009 by Joy McBrien in the light of supporting women and their dreams of economic independence.
Economic independence is of utmost importance to women in general I would say. Be it a normal or a strained relationship between man and woman, economic independence is something that I’d say is definitely a must for every woman. So if at all an untoward event occurs this give you the power to stand out instead of adjusting and tolerating abuse.
The travel program was unique that required women from around the world who would travel with the founder to meet the artisans. It required women to apply and then choose twelve people to accompany the founder. Harini wanted to go on this lone trip to regain what? Her wish to go beyond her comfort zone That is what the book is all about.
Like how she says in the prologue. ‘There are things we do with absolute clarity and things we do with absolute certainty’ . Harini here was certain about going on this journey but not clear not what would it yield. She had many questions on similar grounds piling up in mind looking for answers, which she wasn’t sure if the trip would hold answers. `
The book has chapters which describes Harini’s journey of life that lead to reflection and self-discovery. A journey that sure did give her some friends for life, inspiration and answers to the ongoing questions in her mind.
The book begins where Harini boards the flight alongside women from different parts of the world boarding at the same time to meet and proceed with the journey of discovery.
Post her alone flying experience which brought back melancholic memories of the last time she had traveled , she finally landed in Lima , the capital of Peru to meet her fellow tribe.
Harini and the ten others stayed in Lima before they depart to Chimbote, a place where Fair Anita has it roots. Harini found her comfortable in the company of Mary Lind (ML) and Karin who made her tearful with their talks. And for the first time over a long period Harini wet her pillow with happy tears.
They reached Chimbote, the next day by bus from Lima. Chimbote is extremely poverty stricken and has striking similarity to a developing country that she could compare with some parts of India. She could definitely draw parallels to places where she has visited before and her homeland India on basis on social or physical structures and approach to family. Transport around the area had to be ensured to be safe for the group and it was taken care by Joy.
Every night these women get back to their base after dinner to have a reflection activity with their buddies who discuss their highs and lows of the day. I loved the fact that the activity was for intent of creating a space for safer conversations.
They were welcomed with colors all over and the houses around didn’t seem to reflect the conditions of people inside is what we’re told. Harini came across people from different situations that made her go into deeper thoughts.
She came across an old man who was left abandoned by his family after his paralysis and girl children who were left abandoned by the father and are now under the care of grandfather and had to share a bed because of poverty. The descriptions were so very painful for me to continue beyond that I had to take a break to get back to my senses.
Peru in general has varying topographies and is more prone to natural disasters which make the already worse conditions to live even bad. Th condition of people trying to get back to life post a disaster is also quite difficult in addition to their already existing woes.
Anita goes round their neighbourhood on a day to basis to identify the needs of the people and ways to help them out.
Harini also got to know about her tribe well and these women who would be her companions even beyond this trip. Events from one of her day also involved the group spending time to help around with houses to be build, conducting art classes for kids.
How does it feel to know that you indirectly sponsored to build someone a house and at the same time you also get to spend time physically to help setting it. Satisfactory? I’d say even beyond that for people like us who are always stuck to out digital treasure chest(I mean the laptop).
We’re also given accounts of the best place for Churros and lots of others places to visit like the beaches and temples. So for the travel buffs, you could make note of these.
The trip happened before the world reeled into the pandemic waves. Thankful that if not , we wouldn’t have got to read this book. The book also tells inspirational stories of some artisans which makes you feel powered and sad at the same time. These stories come out in the form of interviews of the artisans that the tribe did.
The tribe modelling for the artisans with some of their best collections was another beautiful moment that I loved reading over and over again.
AS they depart back to where they came from the author wished for a cheerful goodbye but turned out being tense situation. I leave it to you to go read what actually happened when they were departing.
Overall it also comes to light that gender equality is not something that is as simple as we say it. The author also goes by the same thoughts. The trip enlightened a lot of experiences in terms of culture and learning.Harini also emphasizes that with only her thinking on gender equality will not have much impact in the vast ocean of thinking of human race. But instead of staying idle an action speaks a lot. Though she might be a drop, it makes an ocean only when there are countless drops.
So it is equally important to raise responsible men when we say raise a responsible girl child.
Harini’s writings are clear , crisp and no beating around the bush.Her account of events make you visualize them without any inhibition. The description of the topographies, the physical state of people living in Chimbote was brought live to me through her writing.
I really loved the way how each chapter began with a quote that had some relation with what the chapter would be about.
I’d like to thank the author, for giving me this opportunity on her debut book. I’m really glad and honored at the same time to let know I echo the same thoughts on gender inequality and I’m sure most women could relate to. You could count me in as another drop into this mighty ocean.
When I was young, the word gender was seen or heard only once a year. I hope I would bring back nostalgic memories to all of you. That was a filed in DATA SHEET in school diary. I really could not understand whatsoever was the reason to have the field, cause can’t we identify them with the names? Do we specifically require a field? This was way back in the 90s when we did not know there was something termed “gender stereotyping”.
But now are the times when people say we have chosen a unisex name. I was like “What the hell is that?”. I thought the term “unisex” was used only for dresses, shoes or salon. May be this is why schools had the field on their forms procrastinating such a situation that both genders can use the names. Don’t get me wrong that I have a wrong opinion about unisex names, I am all okay with it, but just that it was something new to me and discrimination based on gender with regards to naming was so very new.
Where does it all start?
At home is definitely the straight answer most people would give you. And why would that be? It’s because we were brought up that way.We I mean the previous generation But during the course of us growing up and getting exposure to information of all kinds, somewhere down the lane we realized that this is not how it should be.
We as humans have evolved a lot and especially with concepts like gender stereotyping, sustainability, saying no to patriarchy. But we still have a long way to go in making our parents or grandparents understand the same. We have to be patient and understanding to make them absorb the concept on why we do not agree upon gender based discrimination. Making them understand that it has to be corrected from the roots I.e. home is another herculean task.
The Millennial parents, may be I’d say a 50% of us depend on our parents to help raise kids. Most parental conflicts arise here where our methodologies of thinking with respect to bringing up kids differs.
We believe in gentle parenting, no gender bias however that might sound weird to them because them and their forefathers had an entirely different way of parenting.
Our ways of treating kids, bringing them up to understand that a boy playing dolls and girl playing with a car is totally acceptable is kind of hard for them to process. But in a slow pace they would understand that in today’s way of life it is more necessary that both man and wife contribute and take up roles that are not looked down based on gender bias.
In a nuclear set up a man doing laundry and helping with chores around is totally acceptable, Their way of lifestyle of being there for each other taking up or swapping each others role is definitely making them good role models for their kids and a bad portrayal for the elders who still aren’t aware of the gender stereotyping.
Gender stereotyping could have adverse negative effects on children because of early environmental influences in their life. Any kind of genetic bias could be termed as insignificant and can be overcome by positive environmental influences.
Recently I came across books that support gender stereotyping. As a parent I would never opt to do something like that. But in this case my daughter received this as a birthday gift. Drawing book for girls with bright pinks all over. I was dumbstruck looking at the level of how even books try to thrust such notions. Shouldn’t girls colour dinosaurs or vehicles and only stick to princesses and flowers. I was totally not okay with her getting this book having been raised in a gender neutral environment.
Leave alone books, if you look at toy section in most outlets you do have separate sections based on gender. Where house keeping and cooking ranges are placed for girls; boys will conquer the world with scientific experiments and robotics. Why can’t girls play with robots and boys with kitchen sets? It sad to know that parents and kids these days don’t bring in gender discrimination but that feeling creeps when you enter the toy stores. This should definitely change.
How to handle kids and raise them in a gender neutral environment?
Support the choices they make –Let kids take up what might interest them and not discourage them from playing with toys and activities they show interest. On another note, if your kid is following stereotypical choices by nature, do not intervene. In order to prove gender evenness do not offer different stuff to girls who love to cook and boys who love to ride. Offering them cross-gender alternatives is a definite must. Do not influence them in a gender stereotypical manner be it a toy, dress, activity, friends or making choices in career. Asking them to evaluate their strengths, encouraging and respecting their choices is definitely a good way of upbringing.
Battling Social and Peer pressure – Kids often make mistakes in making choices at schools or more based on what their peers choose and even if that is something that doesn’t make them happy, they make the choice for the sake of making them feel accepted. Teach them how to be true to themselves by making choices that make them content rather than pleasing others.
Encouraging positive traits which the kids have irrespective of the gender something like being fearless or nurturing. Boys being of a nurtured nature and girls going out to conquer is totally acceptable.
Being okay with dressing practically – A girl needn’t be in skirts and frocks all throughout her life. Dressing up in shorts and pants when practical or when she needs is acceptable. And for boys hot pinks and reds are definitely must wear colors. If not they’re definitely missing out on something.
Say no to – toys and activities that are openly sexist. Take to social media to influence your vision so that brands realize that changes should be made.
‘This post is part of #CauseAChatter with Blogchatter’.