“Each one of us has to say that we don't accept such language and expressions,” Sitharaman added.(ANI Photo)
“Each one of us has to say that we don't accept such language and expressions,” Sitharaman added.(ANI Photo)

On International Women’s day, Sitharaman highlights gender bias in languages

On International Women's Day, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said people, during formal and informal engagements, use language in humour and it reinforces the mentality
By hindustantimes.com | Written by Harshit Sabarwal, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 03:46 PM IST

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday called out language-based inequalities against women in the Indian society, pointing out words and phrases which she said are patronising and did not ‘recognise implicit gender bias’. On International Women's Day, she said people, during formal and informal engagements, use language in humour and it reinforces the mentality.

She gave the example of a very commonly-used Hindi idiom ‘choodiyan pehen ke baithna’, which means a person doesn’t have the courage to face or fight against any wrongdoing. Sitharaman said that such an expression has to be avoided.

"Language of communication has to be gender-sensitive. We stand up each time for use of the right language. We come across language both formal and informal that doesn't recognise an implicit gender bias. We need to say language needs to be gender-sensitive. We shouldn't encourage such language," Sitharaman said, while addressing a gathering of women members of Parliament and journalists, according to news agency ANI. “Each one of us has to say that we don't accept such language and expressions,” she added.

Several politicians on Monday expressed their views in the Rajya Sabha on the lack of leadership roles for women in Parliament. Citing several audit reports in the Upper House, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) member Dr Fauzia Khan said not more than 6 per cent of women had been allotted leadership roles and suggested that one could begin by bringing the legislation on 33 per cent of women in both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.

Echoing her concern, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi raised a demand for 50 per cent women reservation in Parliament and assembly. “Twenty-four years ago, we proposed a 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament. Today, 24 years later, we should raise this to 50 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and assembly,” she said.

International Women’s day is observed every year on March 8. Started by the United Nations in the year 1977, the day champions the achievements of women in the fields of politics, economy, art and culture etc. Each year, a theme is designated for celebration. This time, the theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’- which aims towards educating people about the several challenges that women still continue to tackle and the ways to deal with them.

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