In comparison with the past, we have seen a considerable amount of progress in the direction of equality. What once was deemed upon as solely a job for men, is now successfully done by several women and the jobs which were labelled for women are now being pursued by males too. Though this might be the case, is this progress really happening at the rate at which it should? The answer is no. The reason being that as a society we are still being rigid in accepting the fact that every individual is free to live their life, doing what they want to do.

When we observe children, we get to see such different choices of girls and boys. Though the irrational situation of girls always selecting pink as their favourite and boys avoiding the colour as if it were a non-trespassing zone is somewhat under control, there are still significant differences which are imposed on a child. As a girl, the parents try to fill their child’s toybox with dolls and cooking ware, and houses while a boy’s toybox is filled with cars, fighter planes, trains and toy guns and soldiers. Of course, there are exceptions but this is the major scenario.

If we think about it, the girl never asked for dolls and the boy never asked for cars. If we want to really have an equal world, then these scenarios need to change. It starts from the smallest things, even if they are toys. Parents should make sure that they don’t avoid buying a fighter plane for their child just because she’s a girl and vice-a-versa for the boys. There should be an equal mix and then the decision should be in the hands of the child, what it prefers. If we go a little further, we see that there is also a significant difference between the career aspirations of a girl and a boy. An example would be, hardly any boy’s answer would be ‘a makeup artist’ when asked what you want to be when you grow up.

Moving forward, where we finally come to the decision of choosing a career, we see in certain scenarios that women in their early ages are asked to be content with being mediocre. They do not aspire according to their potential. They choose what we might call, safe options. While when it comes to men, they are expected to work hard, whether they want to do it or no because when a man is happy being content with a mediocre life he is deemed to be ‘incapable’ and a woman who isn’t happy being content with mediocrity is deemed to be ‘over ambitious’.

To top this there are conflicts raised in the minds of both the genders by the traditional views in the society. The views are somewhat revolving around things like its fine if a woman doesn’t earn for herself but if she does, she should work in a secure job where the timing is flexible, it shouldn’t be too far and shouldn’t be too strenuous either because the woman must come back and do household chores. While we see, that most of these viewpoints might revolve around the safety of the woman, it already makes her feel that she is too weak for the outside world. While what is expected out of a man is, that he should take risks, whether it means staying away from home for a whole year and seeing his family once a month. He is the ‘provider’ of the family so even though he is up for it or no, he has to sacrifice in order to feed his family.

Following the word sacrifices, we see that brilliant, dynamic women, fail to reach those higher positions simply because somewhere they feel this need to sacrifice for their loved ones, being a woman. This inherent feeling, that she herself must sacrifice for the welfare of her family is what drives these thoughts. The sacrifice might be on working hours, less pay or simply not agreeing to go to a business trip overseas. This causes hinderances for her, in reaching her professional goals.

To contribute more to her diminishing self-confidence, might not be true in some cases but when a woman employee, in a corporate scenario, does exceptionally well than her male subordinates there is a sceptical applause but when the same is done by the male employee, it’s taken as something which isn’t new. Its something which is casual, mundane and obvious. This is where the female employee starts doubting her capabilities and the male employee feels more and more pressurized as to what he can do that isn’t so obvious, because nothing is enough.

The point being, that we as a society need to understand that any man being the in charge of the household chores and his wife earning for the family, is their decision. Not only is it an open minded and free decision but it also might be a very convenient decision for the family, as it might be suiting their arrangement. There might be numerous other families who would want to implement the same but are too scared that they will go against their own beliefs as wells as the society’s beliefs.

The most important thing is that we as a society need to stop keeping a woman and a man on two different pedestals. There are no jobs, colours, careers or personality traits which should be inscribed on the pedestal of a man and none for the woman as well. When we all will do this successfully, there would be no need for any individual to mould into something he or she isn’t and that’s the time, we’ll see equality in its truest form.

Isha Joshi