Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Gender Equality - Equality in decision making or only Equality in pay?

Tho' I always say that women should have economic independence, for me gender equality does not necessarily mean equal pay for equal work. Perhaps because I have not been a career woman. Perhaps, this is taking equality to another dimension. But equality, for me, means the feeling of equal status, equal importance in life, equality in making decisions. Equality need'nt be overt and apparent. If it is conveyed by actions, it’s fine. Like for a housewife, if she has a share in decision making for the family; the husband, or family elders consider and value her opinions, it is equality for me. In our society, some inequality is inevitable. In family life, a father always rules over the household, his wife and kids are under his thumb. His brothers and sisters, all generally follow his wishes. Even when the son marries, and is living with his wife in the same house, they obey him. BUT, if the father is not there, in most cases it is the mother who rules. This is OUR way of life. There automatically becomes a hierarchy of importance in a family, either because of earning capacity, seniority, or being more learned, or more loving. Whatever.

For a career woman, equal work, equal pay must be a very important factor. Also equal opportunities. It is demanded as a right. But equally, we are very happy in places where we get some extra benefits. As at ticket windows, a special line for women; in public transport, reserved seats for women etc. Instead of this, why not separate queues for senior citizens, or for those people with babies? It is done in foreign airlines. While boarding the aircraft, they call out first for people on wheel chairs, then senior citizens, and those with babies, then according to rows.

In truth, in practical life, women are the more dominant sex. The husband just earns a living. It’s the wife who decides what is eaten at home, where the kids will study, what they are taught, which girl her son will marry, the father has very little interest in these things. And if ever the wishes of the father and mother clash, the wife generally manages to do as she wants. This is in the affluent, as well as the poor classes. It’s only the middle class, where the women are a bit under the thumb of their husbands. But the situation here too is improving, as girls have started working. And standing up for their rights.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely agree. Equality would mean equal rights in decision making, or rather equal rights based on ability, unbiased due to gender. However, this is still not so in many parts of India and the world.

    Career women tend to expect or even demand equality, as output and ability is more easily comparable in a work environment. On the home front, the role and responsibility areas are most often so distinctly different that the women's true ability to successfully play the leader and guide her flock does not emerge.

    But times are changing and just as men are recognising the ability of women, so too are women learning to give up their special "privileges".