Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's day and Gender unpacked

The other day our daughter studying in Class 7, asked me the following question. “Traditionally a girl child is preferred over a boy”. She was answering the True or False questions at the end of her Social Studies Lesson and she did not know the answer. She also may have been shocked to know that such issues existed in her world.

I was curious to know more about the lesson and the way it was taught. It is called “Unpacking Gender – Social Aspects” and there are two chapters devoted to this subject. This book approved by the NCERT Syllabus 2005 is one from “Milestones” which is a series of Social Studies text books for Classes 6, 7 & 8 It is by an author named Joyita Chakrabharti, Social Science Coordinator, Delhi Public School – Noida.

So finally we do have a mention of Gender inequality in our text books. At least there are attempts to bring this issue to light and create awareness. It also talks about female foeticide.

The following are some excerpts:

It concludes by saying that there is a solution with the following text:

The Indian Constitution guarantees equal rights to men and women. The Direct Principles of State Policies are aiming in ensuring equal pay for men as well as women for equal work. The new Inheritance law ensures that sons, daughters and their mother get an equal share in the property. The right to Education ensures education for every boy and girl below the age of 14 years. Government is making efforts to promote education among girls so that they are aware of their rights and are given equal opportunities for progress.

I asked my daughter how this lesson was taught and she said that the male teacher just read it through and his explanation for that was that it is a general subject! Of course it is a tricky subject to be taught by a male from a male oriented society that is in India. He sure must be thinking like the rest of his counter parts:
What is wrong if women are treated second to the men? Haven’t we done it since ages? Doesn’t our religion teach us to do so? He must be also remembering his female colleagues who are teaching alongside him and wondering why they should be complaining. I think for most this subject is totally out of context and doesn’t need to be given much thought. Mainly because he is not seeing the effects personally. The same holds for a part of the female population too.

This also reminds me that today is Mother’s day and I read this article from “The Times of India” that India is a bad place to be a mum.

According to a global survey that looked at where mothers fare best and where they face the greatest hardships, India is ranked a dismal 66th among 71 "less developed countries" — only slightly better than countries like Swaziland, Papua New Guinea and Nigeria.

Is this really true or is it another of those reports to be brushed away?

And a reader comments thus: Madhavi , U.S.A , says: Indian mother is the epitome of love and sacrifice! No mother anywhere in the world can beat the love of an Indian mother. She gives and gives and expects nothing in return. She will forgo food to feed her young. She will go to any length to educate her child even if she is an illiterate. LONG LIVE INDIAN MOTHER!

Isnt this true and isnt this what the majority of Indian mothers are doing. Although I do believe Mother’s all around the globe are no different. They do a lot of sacrifice in these difficult times.

Talking about Indian mothers, she may be educated or uneducated, she may be working or not working, but she has always given the first priority to her family.

With priority comes a sacrifice too. And for working women, it becomes even more difficult since she is expected to work inside her house too. Compared to the mothers working from home (even if she is doing housework she is working since if you had hired a maid you would be paying her), those working outside may have more freedom since she is also earning. But the burden each carries is the same. I can speak for the working since I am working too. Cooking and caring for the children is expected of the mothers since most men don’t know it otherwise. Every women does it, so it why is one person complaining and getting a good maid to help around is not easy for all. But when this burden becomes too high it can lead to serious problems within the family for some.

I am not implying that all men are cruel and offer no help. There are Fathers especially in the Gulf who shares equal or more burden with the mother if the working hours of the wife are erratic. But generally speaking, I would like to agree with the Times of India report.

I guess it would take a while to get things in the right track and for a mother to be truly appreciated in this mad world of ours.

And to end this, I am sure there are many like our own son, who while reading with me the topic on Gender equality, commented thus “Umph – I think the girls are treated better than the boys in the classes” and he gave me examples too. So I should say that things are changing for the better!


  1. Happy Mother's day to you Asha!
    You have very strong views... and you pen them nicely too. :)

  2. What is wrong if women are treated second to the men? Haven’t we done it since ages? Doesn’t our religion teach us to do so?

    Does our religion teach us that? I am not quite sure about that.

    At least not the religion I know a little about. In the religion I know it proudly proclaims...Mata, Pitha, Gur , Devam....putting Mother before God even...I agree at some point in time when the rituals became more important than the scriptures we did face some discriminations....but even now when in need and pain..we cry much for religious discrimination of women!!!

    I agree the Hindu and Christian trinity and the Muslim singular God and his prophets all happen to be men...but does that call for a change to the gender of some belief and culture that has been on going for thousands of years? I am not sure if I would be for it, however rationally explained ! But again in between all this we have Laxmi, Parvathy, Mariam, Mary...all of them with equal importance.

    So simply pushing the cause of the women by blaming religion for it does not exactly help the discrimination point !!

    I am not an expert on religion or excuse my ignorance.

  3. brilliant!! :) i'll soon read the article in completion as soon as i have net access at home. here, i am in a line for using it. thanks for writing this! :) i skimmed over it and see your strong writing style and forceful comments. much appreciated. :) will be back.

  4. gender equality even in developed countries is only on the surface. ask around and many americans will balk. hilary for president? a woman? dont be surprised. such deep-rooted feelings take many generations to change. until then the physical differences will according to dawin's theories keep the physically stronger ones a rung above in the ladder of life..right? no, a fact of life - yes..

  5. I was expecting more brick bats!

    @ Indrani. Thank u and wish u the same! I have heard that one before and getting a little worried :-

    @ Lakshmi. Thank U and wish u the same.

    @ KK. Cool down... I think your comments deserves another post from me... I shall try to explain why I wrote thus, but still I maybe wrong.

    @roop. Thanks.. I had all the feelings to make this post happen!

    @Maddy. ah.. u have solved the issue with your engineering skill while u dash my hopes too :-


Blog Archive