As International Women’s day #IWD2019 dawns on us, it is a sorry fact that the most discussed topic in Sydney today is men’s toxic sense of entitlement – in the wake of the recent ‘entitlement’ murder of a female, Indian Australian dentist that shocked the nation. Spare the details of the criminal act, the mainstream newspapers opine that this woman could be another victim of how men find it difficult to take a ‘no’ for an answer. A sad victim of violence by a perpetrator who believed that he was entitled to take her life because of her rejecting him.
If that is the fact, it is high time we started thinking – how did we, as a society, inculcate this so-called sense of entitlement within men? Of course, right from the childhood – starting from having two different set of chores for female and male child, determining who should be in charge of kitchen and of finances, telling them who should be on their feet all the time when the other one can laze on couch and channel-surf, paying one gender more for the same amount of work they do and so forth. Whilst the society commends the women to be ‘behind’ a successful man, we praise a man for his ‘approval’ to let his woman succeed! The men who grew up enjoying all these privileges, (without even realising that they are privileges!) cannot fully be blamed for growing up thinking its their prerogative to be ‘serviced’ and ‘preferred’ time and again!
Now and here, we have unfortunately reached a stage where we find grown up boys who believe that they can bully, belittle, humiliate, physically hurt and even kill women who cannot prioritise their lives in favour of these men’s. Wonder if that is indication enough for us as a society to reflect upon ourselves, and believe that the word ‘social change’ is not a far-fetched one anymore? Hey- just so that our boys don’t end up behind the bars, and our girls in graves!
The one single question we may need answer to is – how aware are we, both men and women, about how our lives should be lived? This is where the age-old word feminism comes to the picture once again. The word ‘feminism’ is interpreted with much ridicule by many, however all it needs to depict is, ‘men, their rights and nothing more; women their rights and nothing less’ as defined by Susan B. Anthony in the beginning of 1900s. And maybe this is all we should comprehend in this regard!
Well, for now, let’s leave the men aside.
How aware are we women, about ourselves, and the world we are building around us?
The gender inequality the women face worldwide can be categorised into the several riveting brackets, and below are some of those.
- 53.7 percent world’s working-age women are in the labour force, compared to 80.6 percent of working-age men (World bank data)
- Millions of girls are denied an education all over the world (UNESCO fact report)
- 71% victims of human trafficking are girls and women (UN stats on human trafficking)
- An estimated 12 million girls are married worldwide, while still under 18; which is 23 girls every minute. (Girls not brides website)
- Only 24 % of all national parliamentarians are female. (World bank data)
- Technology jobs are still underrepresented by women (World Economic Forum – Technology stills a man’s world)
- Less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women (UNESCO institute of statistics)
I have deliberately left out the mention of women that face sexual assault, women that are subjected to domestic violence, or women that are discriminated for just being ‘women’ here; as these are topics that thankfully are being discussed at least once in a while.
With all the stories that the above data tells, here we are, at this juncture; there is no denying it anymore.
Now, without blaming the dark, how can we light a candle and spread some light to start with?
Here’s where the motto for #IWD2019 becomes all the more relevant – balance for better. Women are very often perceived as the enemies of themselves. How about we rest our urge to consider men as superior and see our fellow ladies as equals? Support each other, support our lives, support our careers. Build healthy friendships and acquaintances as individuals rather than as daughters, wives and mothers of whoever. Talk about something that interests us, share our pleasures and sorrows, love our life; and more importantly realise that there is nothing ‘rebellious’ in doing so!
Technology and finances are probably something that most women (not forgetting that there are women who make the best techies and financiers as well) dread like anything, but empowering ourselves should start from there. A story I recollect is that of a retired professional in her seventies, from one of the technology classes I attended – her reason to learn totally impressed me “I want to learn computers because I wish to learn online banking. Every time I call up a bank, I feel embarrassed to say I don’t do online banking! I can see people opening up their laptops, their phones and even using finger-rings to operate their bank accounts; I want to be one of them” – and she did master it in the end, proving that nothing is a barrier including her age and eyesight!
Something else that is paramount is understanding money, and comprehending the impact of it in our lives. A brilliant infographics on Women’s money challenges by Australian Securities and Investments Commissions explains it beyond words, and how steps like saving up, planning for long term and getting the super under control will help.
Whilst ‘being aware’ and empowering ourselves is a must-do, there is some ‘making aware’ and enabling we can and need to do. Give an insight of your life as a woman to the men around you – be it your son, partner, father, or friend. One thing is for sure, they will never know it until and unless someone tells them, and they will believe it better if it comes from you, who is close to them.
The strength to empower and be empowered could sustain the balance we are seeking!
As Bob Marley sang, “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.”
Be strong! Be aware! Be balanced for better!