Gender has, over the years, been closely associated with the biological sex of a person; hence, gender is predominantly considered binary- divided as male and female. Due to the deeply rooted misconception that gender is binary, our society has created a pre-set standard guidelines as to how and what a person of a certain gender should be like. Our society, in defining gender, has created barriers that confine people’s individuality and authenticity. Sayings like “boys will be boys” have not only stereotyped men and what being a man means, but it has opened free lanes for easily underrepresenting women and girls. The patriarchy-fueled society has defined boundaries for the representation of genders, in a way that women are forced to feel like they are not good enough and will always be lesser than their male counterparts.
Due to the common understanding that gender is binary, there are certain expectations from both men and women. For example, men are asked to be responsible for continuing the ancestral line, to look after family inheritance, take care of finances and perform activities requiring strength, power and importance while women from a young age are taught to be gentle, speak softly, take care of domestic activities, take care of home and eventually be the child-bearers.
Every day we can see and observe unequal treatment between different individuals due to the perceived differences based solely on the issues of gender. Mainly in our society, which is deeply rooted in a patriarchal system, the stereotypical responsibilities for men and women are glorified to the extent that we are habituated to performing them without raising a question.
Everyone’s individuality is scrutinized and measured through the biased gender lens. Our society has been raising us with misconceptions. While boys play around outdoors, girls are told to clean the house and prepare meals for the family. Children are brainwashed to such an extent that little girls think they are destined to serving their husbands, in a way that their life depends upon a man’s conditions. According to a report by UNDP, 750 million women and girls, globally, were married before the age of 18.
Similarly, boys are taught to be outspoken and protectors of their families. They are taught about the heritage and control of the family line. Their responsibility is seen to be extended in every sector, which gives them more power to exert in society.
People are unable to practice their rights and freedom, which causes imbalances in their societal positions and performances.
To sum up, gender inequality is a major problem in the global scenario. The consequences of gender inequality is hampering people all over the world, however, the only way out is through education and progressive thoughts of people. The right to education must be accessed to everyone and people must be able to have equal opportunities irrespective of their gender. For such reforms, efforts have to stem from individual levels to educational, political and legal platforms. Universal access to sexual and reproductive health is a major stepping stone to a promising future for women. Similarly, equal power on economic resources must be enforced for women to eliminate gender inequality from their roots. Only then, we shall be able to serve justice to everyone without anyone feeling compromised or held back for their gender.
-Sulav Ratna Bajracharya
Program Intern at Ujyalo Foundation
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