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‘Gender Inequality’ to ‘Gender Equality’: Role of Peace Education

March 15, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

As the world is moving towards ‘globalization’ and ‘global citizenship’, increased emphasis is also being laid on closing the gender inequality. This blog post discusses gender inequality in the world based on UNICEF’s reports, gender inequality in India and the deprivation of human rights for women. Certain Indian Laws that promote gender inequality will be mentioned followed by how some men treat violence against women as their birth right. To conclude, there will be discussion on the role of peace education in bringing gender equality and to further make safe places for women.

Educated women make better-informed mothers and are able to run their household efficiently is what has been proven time and again. I am not saying that education is all that it takes to make a women a better mother. I have had examples of great females in my family who were not educated formally, but had strong control over their decisions and were very efficient in their tasks. But education is something that teaches them to be risk-takers and be independent. They are able to take better care of their children and make their own decisions that are relevant to their family. Yet, there is a huge gender disparity in every region of the world where women are disadvantaged, be it education or employment. This is more evident in the developing countries where traditional cultural practices tend to make women more repressed by the dominating male gender. As per the UNICEF (2007) report, it is more likely for girls to miss out on secondary school education than boys in developing countries. For example, in South Asia the gross enrollment of girls in 2000-2005 is around 43% whereas for boys it is around 56%. Parents do not feel the need to educate their daughters since they get married and go to their in-laws place so the income these girls would generate once they get a job will be of no use to them. They are taught the skills of home making instead so they can be better daughter in-laws. Another reason that women are repressed in the family is because they are not financially dependent. Since men bring food to the family they feel they have the authority to make decisions about the family. This disparity continues to higher decision-making positions too, in number of women who are in the government. According to UNICEF (2007) report, there are only 17% women in parliament, 14% women ministers and only 6% women heads of government in the world. This inequality starts at the family level and continues up to the national level.

Gender inequality is a huge problem in India considering the absence or improper implementation of anti-discrimination laws. According to UNFPA (2013), one of the major causes of sons having more preference is ‘dowry’. It is the gifts that the girl’s family has to give to the boy’s family at the time of the marriage. In some cases, it constitutes the entire life savings of the girl’s parents. Even though there is a law against dowry called the Dowry Prohibition Act (DPA), the custom still persists. Every member of the boy’s family is given a gift and the price of each is a direct indicator of the status of the girl’s family. It is a cruel custom and because of the anti-dowry law, these gifts are now considered as being voluntarily given by the girl’s family. Even after the marriage if the boy’s family keeps making demands, the girl’s family has to keep fulfilling these demands because going against them would mean ruining the life of the girl and marriage. It is considered a big blotch on the status in the society. So even when the laws persist, people find their ways around and it becomes a never-ending cycle. In severe cases, the boy’s family starts torturing the girl and results in dowry deaths. To prevent this entire unnecessary trauma, birth of a girl is not considered a good omen in certain educated families also.

The Property Inheritance Laws in India disfavor women. They have been revised time and again to give more rights to the women but there is still not equality amongst the wives and daughters being legal heirs of the family property. The Land Laws are also discriminatory. As per UNFPA (2013), “In the order of succession in the Delhi Land Reform Act, the ‘male lineal descendants in the male line of descent’ are next on the list; the widow and father are next on the list. Unmarried daughters are ninth on this list.”

It is because of the above-mentioned discriminatory practices that sex selection and female infanticide occurs. Doctors use techniques like sonography and ultrasound to illegally determine the sex of the fetus. Even though there are laws against such practices, people always find their ways around it. Quoting the UNFPA (2013) report, “If the doctor tells us to come and get the report on Monday, we know it’s a boy. Friday means a girl,” says Sarla, a proud mother of three strapping boys in Karnal’s Chonchda village. Her neighbour’s doctor adopted a slightly different modus operandi, signature in red ink to indicate a girl and blue for a boy. “No words are exchanged. It’s an unspoken thing and one doesn’t even have to ask.” she says.

Other more violent crimes against women are child marriage, forced marriage, no choice in their life partners, sexual harassment, rape, deprivation of proper nutrition for girls all contribute to parents having preference for sons over daughters. According to Government of India Statistics Report (2011), “Preference for son varies according to social groups and regions in India. 20% men and 22.3% women prefer to have more sons than daughters”.

It is the women in India who discriminate against their gender. This discrimination starts at the family level and is seen at the government level too. The Government can keep on revising laws and make them anti-discriminatory but they will not reap any results until the females stand up for themselves. They should be able to raise their voice against discrimination and unlawful practices. This is where the Peace Education can play a major role by educating women to respect them and help make places safer for them. They should stop believing that they are the weaker sex of the society. As it is portrayed in Anurag Kashyap’s short film ‘That Day After Everyday’, the women took care of their eve teasers who used to harass them everyday on their way to work. It is these motivational pieces and talks that help women realize their potential and their will to be treated as equals.

In my opinion what we need is a world where women become free from oppression and discrimination to live a life of economic independence and self-sufficiency. There is a need to raise awareness amongst women for realizing their own rights and have the potential to fight for the rights of their daughters. There will be no sex determination and female infanticide if women stand up against such practices. There will be no dowry deaths if the mother-in law makes sure that there should be no demand for dowry and torture. It is woman who should be respectful for another woman to completely close this gender inequality.



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