My 9 year old son: “Mom, what is ‘Girl Child Day?”
Me: “Its a day when we celebrate the beauty of having a girl child and raise awareness about the need to protect them and their rights”
Son: “What do you mean by that? Why do you need to protect them, celebrate them? Is there a Boy Child day also?”
Me (thinking to myself): How can I explain the centuries of wrongs done to girls to this little kid?
I have raised my son in as gender neutral environment as I could. His young mind cannot imagine the kind of atrocities girls and women have had to suffer fir centuries just because they were born girls. My first thought was to protect him from these harsh realities, which are no longer a part of my world. But then I am reminded that even today when a girl is born, the very life of that new born is at peril, while some ‘modern’ families still says, “never mind, next time!”
So I sit him down and attempt to explain to him how some people (still) believe girls are a burden. Trust me when you are talking to a 9 year old, the concept of patiarchy and dowry are very difficult to break down. Its so because he just cannot fathom why these were put in place in the first place. And when he asks innocently why girls were not sent to school, I had a difficult time explaining that it was because girls were only supposed to manage the house and not have an opinion. Educating them is considered a waste of time and money. A quick look at some latest statistics makes one realise that we are still have a long way to go. The Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2016 report suggests that nationally 5.2% girls girls are out of school. Reasons for this are many – early marriage, lack of funds to educate all children, lack of schools, social pressure on parents, etc. While primary level education still finds some girls, the number of girls finishing 12th grade is extremely low. And this is not only true of rural India. Many urban households still believe that a girl need not have a career as the husband will earn enough for the family and the girl will basically be running the house and taking care of the kids.
As I spoke to him about these concepts, I realised that although I am a conscious and aware woman who had the fortune of growing up in an open minded family, there are many examples of these all around me. Most of my friends did their masters but did not event think of taking up jobs or working on their own as it was only supposed to be part of their ‘interest’. If a girl studies too much, it will be difficult to find a boy with equal qualifications seems to be a common worry. Even if a girl somehow manages to get a six figure package job at a good multinational, she is said to have earned her own dowry!!!
As women we owe it to our next generation to bring about a change in this perspective. If women before us had not worked hard to fight against these archaic beliefs none of us would have received the life we did. We owe it to their hard work to make sure their legacy carries on. There are numerous ways in which we can make a difference. Here are five simple things that one can do to do their bit towards creating a better future for the girl child –
- Each one Teach one – while it may be the tag line for a popular programme, it holds a lot of power. If each one of us ensured that no girl in our immediate world goes uneducated, we will have made a big difference.
- Support programmes – there are many groups and forums that work towards the cause of upliftment of the girl child. Find one near you and seek out ways of how you can support them.
- Spread the word – while we are all aware that this is a serious problem and needs work, we are all so busy in our daily lives that we have no mindspace to think about these issues. Dedicating special days towards these causes is one way to bring them to our attention. We can do our bit by keeping the cause alive on other days. Form groups within your circle and channelise the collective power of many people to bring about a change.
- Create a platform – Many people want to do something but don’t know where to start. Once you have created awareness and spread the word, help people by guiding them on how they can help. Some may be able to contribute money and some may only be able to give their time. Help them find the right platform.
- Raise a socially aware and conscious child – We are all mothers and have the power to change the future through them. IT is in our hands to raise children who are aware and sensitive towards this cause and grow up to create a better world.
So next time we hear about the birth of a girl child, let ‘s celebrate, let’s dance, let’s make merry!
This post was first published on www.mycity4kids.com