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Does India stand too low on gender equality? Yes, is the overwhelming answer

One may believe in equal rights for men and women, but clearly parents in India don’t think so. they worry for their daughter’s marriage from when she turns 24. Gender inequality is the biggest well-disguised problem.

Youth Survey 2016 Updated: Dec 22, 2016 10:57 IST
Anjali Thakur
Anjali Thakur
Hindustan Times
India,Equality,Gender issues
Gender inequality is the biggest well-disguised problem in India.(Shutterstock)

Gender inequality is widespread in rural India and we all know that. What many fail to understand is that it’s no different in Indian cities. I am a 25-year-old woman and grew up mostly in cities. I know for a fact that in my country, gender inequality is the biggest well-disguised problem.

I believe in equal rights for men and women, but the issue is beyond a train coach reserved for women or reservation on jobs and education. We know more girls from different sections of society go to school to finish their basic education these days. But what after that?

Sania Mirza, India’s top tennis player, gave a befitting reply when she was asked when she planned to embrace motherhood and “settle down”.

“You sound disappointed that I’m not choosing motherhood over being number one in the world at this point of time. But I’ll answer your question anyway. That’s the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face… the first is marriage and then it’s motherhood. Unfortunately, that’s when we’re settled, and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or number ones in the world we become, we don’t become settled.”

This is the most important point. Most Indian parents start worrying about their daughter’s marriage when she turns 24, but the son can “focus on his career” till 27.

Marriage is one issue I am completely bummed by in this country. Not to forget that I am still waiting for a day when I can wear a dress and not feel uncomfortable on the road. This one is addressed to the ladies as well: A new female employee joins your office and she is on top of her game. However, her pencil heel, skirt slit and red lipstick make you uncomfortable. The moment she beats you to a great appraisal, you “reveal” that the reason is her red lipstick.

You can fight the quotas and reservations, but the battle of mentalities is yet to be conquered.

Men too don’t have it easy in our country. Our boys are groomed from childhood to be the family bread-winner because daughters go away after marriage. For most Indian men, passions such as art or singing or writing never get transformed into pay cheques because it doesn’t have the value of an IIT or medical degree.

Men or women, we have faced gender inequality in some form or the other in India.

A self-confessed foodie, Anjali Thakur is an arts graduate from Delhi University. She aspires to become part-time dog-sitter and full-time social worker, after she travelled the world with her little salary.

Does India need to address issues like employment opportunities and gender equality? Take our poll

Read more stories from HT MaRS Youth Survey here.

First Published: Dec 21, 2016 16:40 IST