Monday, 4 August 2014

Injustice Justified

It was a huge gathering of our family members to celebrate the engagement ceremony of one of my nieces. There were more than hundred people clad in formal dress. Not to talk about the kids who were frolicking around oblivious of all oddities. The males seemed to be more relaxed. They were enjoying the preceding moments of the party in every possible way - sipping tea, chatting, joking and laughing care-freely, while the women were busy preparing food in the kitchen.

They were peeling boiled potatoes, chopping vegetables, boiling water, making tea, cooking delicious dishes and many more. On the other hand, all the men were gathered in the drawing room gossiping and ordering tea every now and then. "Is this gender equality?," I wondered as I closely observed this scenario.

I do not mind working. What bothers me is why the kitchen work is basically confined to women? Can't men extend their helping hands in cooking or washing if they advocate for gender equality? At this particular juncture, I suddenly realized that we, females, have not become equal to our male counterparts in certain aspects yet. Men are still playing a superior role. The most unbearable part of that day was when the male folks got tired of talking, they started popping into the kitchen one by one and demanded, "If anything prepared yet? Oh, it's too late. I'm very hungry..." The women were supposed to get the dining table ready at once and feed the men. It did not matter whether the women were also equally hungry because our social norm does not allow females to precede males in eating.

We are so culture-bound that we cannot dare to challenge the age-old customs promptly. We have accepted male chauvinism willingly or unwillingly. If not, why even in an educated family circle like ours where many daughters-in-law are college graduates, no one can raise a voice against such an unjustifiable cultural practice? After all, nobody wants to be an odd-person-out.

I remember, many years ago there was a debate among the concerned people that the teaching content included in primary level textbooks were gender-biased. The texts limited the role of females only to household chores whereas males were exposed as office-goers and sole breadwinners of the family. The people used to argue that such textbooks which were promoting gender disparity in the society, must be changed.

I wondered what today's children learn about their parents' role in a family. Curiously, I flipped through my one-grader son's textbooks. I was shocked by what I saw in them. Some content, "...My mother works at home, she cooks food for us...and my father works in an office, he is an officer...." This means the role of a mother has not changed over the years!

It can be said that our traditional belief of women as housewives has not been changed. Although some voices on gender equality are being raised, women are still regarded as synonymous of household work. In reality, women have also started to work outside and earn money, but men have not started to share the household responsibilities.

It is high time to redefine the role of men and women for they can easily exchange their roles. If a mother can go to office, why cannot a father cook food for children?

(Published in an English Daily The Kathmandu Post on Monday, May 23, 2005)

[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

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I would appreciate any and all suggestions on making improvements (as long as they are viable).