I am deeply in love with Priyanka Chopra’s stellar performance in Jai Gangajal, The way Mr. Prakash Jha has depicted her role might be a first in Bollywood. Position your eyes away from the reel screen, however, and the movie looks highly ambitious. I came across a news piece that said that out of 900 police stations in Bengaluru, only one was headed by a woman. When asked the reason, senior police officers said that it is because heading a police station is a challenging job in which men are generally preferred over women, and secondly that, women lack the physical strength that’s essential for the job. If these reasons are true, then the government should probably declare that such jobs are “men only”, why even give her the false hope to join in and contribute to the service of her nation by heading a police station.
The senior police officers though, cannot be blamed completely. The factors mainly responsible are societal beliefs and patriarchal mindsets which categorically establish that women are inferior. We are a civilisation so much deep-rooted in gender-biased beliefs that it has become a part of who we are. This type of discrimination therefore, would not surprise us anymore.
The issue however, cannot be left unaddressed by thinking that this is a typical traditional government department where such practises remain the norm. Gender discrimination was recently highlighted in modern India’s ever trending start-up regimes as well. Kajal Agarwal, Founder Wishberry (a leading Indian crowd funding platform), recently revealed that venture capitalists and angel investors initially refrained from giving her funds owing to the fact that it was an all women led venture and the stakes were high that these women would run away from their projects. It is almost funny to think of a person denying to invest in your project because they are afraid that you might run away from your dreams.
Another striking revelation came from Mydala.com founder Anisha Singh, who faced discrimination during her first round of funding just because she was pregnant. Investors were apprehensive over the time she would be able to give to her startup. On the other hand, a soon-to-be father cum start-up fund seeker, would never face discrimination. Just because of the fact his belly does not show up owing to pregnancy does not mean that he has a better chance of sticking up to his startup and responsibilities than a woman!
The scenario in legislatures is no different. With a mere 12% representation of women in parliament, India ranks 103 out of 140 countries. It was therefore, a great suggestion on PM Modi’s part to let only women from both the houses speak on International Women’s day. Such exclusive days are more than welcome as, amongst the all parliamentary chaos, when there are only 12% to speak on behalf of rest of the women masses, their voices would normally go unheard of.
Taking a look at any work place in a suburb, some employers are hesitant to offer employment to younger unmarried girls for the fear that they might leave their jobs upon marriage. When she becomes old, she may become ineligible due to her faded looks or her lack of physical strength. Their male counterparts, on the other hand, might never face such an issue at all. Amongst other concerns here, there is the issue of pay disparity. In a modern day democracy run on the basis of skills and ideas, the monetary consideration for putting in hard toiled hours of work is sometimes based on the gender rather than performance. The most striking instance is that of the disparity existing in the entertainment industry. With actresses like Sonakshi Sinha and Kalki Koechlin admitting the issue, it is a matter of real concern. The entertainment industry many a times symbolises the society’s own identity with its movies, in return, it is also affected by its movies. How the performers are then treated would thereby, have an impact on the society. Thus, when they admit to gender disparity, it is a strong revelation of the world we have created for ourselves.
On International Women’s Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also remarked that the already strong Indian women did not need empowerment. I agree with him in this regard, as far as the issue at hand is concerned. Inequality at the workplace is something the society has derived from the cobweb of patriarchy and gender based stereotypes. It is therefore, not a woman’s fault for being the way she is but the fault of the society for trying to procrastinate, ponder and ultimately create an image of the way she “should” be.