Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why I don't participate in campaigns like selfiewithdaughter?

I read the news that selfiewithdaughter is trending on twitter since India's PM Mr. Modi asked people to share selfies with their daughters along with tag line 'beti bachao, beti padhao' (which means, save daughters, educate daughters). I understand that his intention behind this is to spread awareness about decreasing male to female ratio in Indian society. Tag line 'save daughters' is specially directed towards female foeticide, where gender selective abortions are very common. But I see a problem in all this, many people who are concerned with dropping male to female ratio or female foeticide issue try to project females or girls as something special, something precious which needs extra protection or attention or care. They all forget that this is the same attitude which resulted in gender discrimination and perception that females are weaker sex or a liability on family. Such campaigns no matter how well intended normally fail to produce any desired results. They do create some media coverage, the issue gets discussed in some debates but hardly anything changes on the ground. There are enough government programs and laws line anti-dowry law in India, there is even a law that gives daughters a equal share in ancestral property but we all know that still dowry is a very common practice and very few people bother to give girls their legal share in ancestral property. They all consider their daughters very special, treat them very nicely, they all love them but they are not considered as EQUALS. Always or in most cases if there is a son he is considered as heir of property or leader of family, there is a different set of rules for sons compared to daughters. I agree that situation is changing slowly but not with the speed with which it should. It is also true that situation of women in many western countries is comparatively much better than countries like India, so we have lot of ground to cover and this campaign is not going to help that much in that direction. Problems on ground are very different, situation and status of women in society needs a major revamp. Unless women are made equal partners in each and every strata of society their situation is not going to improve. One doesn't need to respect only their mothers, sisters or daughters but also our wives, neighbors and colleagues. We should stop looking at women only through prism of some glorified relationship but treat them as individuals. 

So why I think that such campaigns are not useful or why I don't participate in such campaigns specially when I claim to be a feminist and someone who believes in gender equality? Actually I am against any special treatment offered to women or men just because of their gender, this is against my basic concept of equality. My daughter is just one of my kids, she is not any special than my son. She is like any other member of my family with EQUAL rights; no more, no less. She gets all privileges and rights which my son or I get in my family. She is allowed to party if my son is allowed to do it, she is allowed to hang out with her friends (male or female doesn't matter) if my son is allowed to do it, she is allowed to watch the movies or TV programs which are suitable to her age (based on ratings), she is allowed to use words which I am allowed to use while speaking in home or in public, she is expected to do chores like everyone else, she or my son are not treated any different based on their gender. We don't offer any concession or privilege to her just because she is a girl, same is true for my son, he doesn't get anything extra just because he is a boy. She is not assigned any chores just because this is what girls are supposed to learn or do; it is her choice if she wants to learn cooking or not, she has to decide whether she wants to learn driving or not and same is true for my son also. Equality doesn't come with any special privileges, rather theoretically equality means that there should not be any special privileges for anyone. If we want to teach our daughters meaning of equality first and basic thing we need to do is to treat them as equals. If we don't practice equality in real life then just talking about it will not make any difference. Equality means giving equal respect, freedom, opportunity and responsibility to all.

Whether it is positive or negative both type of discrimination is bad, daughters are no special, they are equal and responsible members of any family. They deserve equal status not some special treatment, rather this special treatment offered to them for centuries is the very reason that they are discriminated. Many societies worship female gods, they treat them as special, show extra protectiveness or concern and what is the result of all this?? women are not treated as equals, many restrictions are forced upon them just because of their gender, they are considered as weak or less capable. So now time has come not to give any special treatment but to give them opportunities, freedom and responsibilities which they deserve. Any society or country is not doing any favor by giving women equal rights, rather societies should be ashamed that still women have to demand equal rights for them. These type of campaigns might create some media buzz but we need change in mentality of people, let parents take oath that they will give equal share to their daughters in their property, they will let her choose her career and life partner, they will not restrict her from doing something just because of her gender. Let them promise that they will make sure that daughters will have all the freedom which any other male member of her age from their family enjoys. Parents can post selfies with their daughters on internet, it is very easy thing to do but I hope they go many steps further and treat her as they treat themselves, as a equal human being not something superior or inferior. Gender inequality is very big problem all across the world, it even bigger in countries like India. Even though I don't think that any such campaign have any capacity to bring any real change I will be happy if this initiative helps to create awareness about gender equality. I also hope this doesn't send the wrong message that daughters are any special because they are not, they are equals so please treat them as equals.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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