“Empowered Women don’t need permission to be Empowered!” – Richa Chaturvedi
Naari, A well qualified, ambitious, enthusiastic, cheerful and beautiful woman in her mid 30’s who is part of a patriarchal society. She’s trying to live her life her way but always hits a glass ceiling of customs, ethics, norms, culture, religion and values that shatters her confident soul and dreams.
One fine day Naari decided to take her career to the next level and start her own side hustle. She wanted to be an author and wanted to write about her journey in a patriarchal society and how a woman like her can have her own identity and exercise her voice. She was enthusiastic to take this ahead but as the people around her got to know the idea, she was questioned with raised eyebrows. The patrons of patriarchy started throwing some bizarre judgements, questions and statements at her- What will people say, why our Bahu is writing such things about feminism and women empowerment? Aren’t we keeping her well? How will people react? Don’t you feel ashamed to write such things? Do you think your ideas can help women out there? Why do you want to ruin other women’s homes and relations? How will you deal with the guilt of ruining households? Women in our society live under the authority of men, why do you want to break this norm? Women are safe when they listen to men! And the list is just endless!
Naari was baffled by the reactions to her idea! She was wondering why her idea was wrong, and exactly at the same time she encountered another statement which just took all her energy – “Did you seek permission from your Husband?” Permission, approval and validation, seriously do I need to take any of these from my husband just because he’s a man and a woman should ask and then do! Seek permission for my own career. Don’t I have the capability to decide for myself?
Naari understands that the idea of male overpowering women’s decisions is a generalisation and not universally applicable to all situations or cultures. However, historically, in many societies including ours, men have held positions of power and influence, resulting in certain disparities in decision-making authority between men and women. These disparities can be attributed to a variety of factors, including cultural norms, societal structures, and historical precedents.
Let us understand the factors that have contributed to the perception of male dominance in decision-making in detail –
👉🏻Patriarchal societies: Indian culture post Mughals have traditionally been structured around male dominance and the idea that men should be the primary decision-makers in various aspects of life including family, finances, politics, and economics.
👉🏻Unequal access to education and resources: Since the Mughal, women have faced limited access to education and resources, which has often restricted their opportunities to participate in decision-making processes and progress. This lack of access has created a power imbalance between men and women.
👉🏻Gender stereotypes and biases: Societal expectations and stereotypes about gender roles in post Mughal India has influenced perceptions of decision-making abilities. Biases and stereotypes have led to women being undervalued or excluded from decision-making positions, processes and progress.
👉🏻Glass ceiling phenomenon: In many professional fields, women are facing barriers that limit their progression to leadership positions. This “glass ceiling” effect can impede their ability to participate in high-level decision-making processes.
👉🏻Cultural and institutional norms: Cultural and institutional norms have reinforced gender imbalances in decision-making. These norms are often deeply ingrained in societal structures, making it challenging for women to break through and have an equal voice in decision-making arenas.
However, it is essential to recognise that significant progress has been made in many societies to address these disparities and promote gender equality. Efforts to empower women, challenge gender norms, and create inclusive spaces for decision-making are underway worldwide. The goal is to ensure that decision-making processes are fair, diverse, and representative of all individuals, irrespective of their gender.
But the question here is, How will Naari deal with this? This is completely Male Chauvinism which is covered in flowery packs of Chivalry. Every woman is capable of dealing with this with a multifaceted approach that combines education, awareness, advocacy, and promoting gender equality. Here are some strategies to consider:
👉🏻Education and awareness: Raise awareness about the issue of male chauvinism and Gender bias by educating both men and women about gender equality, women’s rights, and the harmful effects of chauvinistic attitudes and behaviours. Encourage open discussions, workshops, and educational campaigns to challenge stereotypes and promote understanding.
👉🏻Promote gender equality: Advocate for equal rights and opportunities for all genders. Support policies and initiatives that aim to close the gender gap in areas such as education, employment, and leadership positions. Encourage fair and inclusive practices within organisations and communities.
👉🏻Engage in dialogue: Initiate conversations about gender equality and male chauvinism with friends, family, colleagues, and community members. Share personal experiences, provide evidence and facts, and challenge biassed or discriminatory statements or behaviours in a constructive manner. Encourage open-mindedness and empathy.
👉🏻Lead by example: Act as an ally by treating everyone with respect and equality, regardless of their gender. Model inclusive behaviours and challenge gender stereotypes in your own actions and words. Support and amplify the voices of women and marginalised genders.
👉🏻Support organisations and initiatives: Get involved with organisations working towards gender equality and ending male chauvinism. Volunteer, donate, or contribute your skills to initiatives that promote women’s empowerment, provide resources, or offer support to those affected by chauvinism.
👉🏻Encourage self-reflection: Encourage individuals to reflect on their own beliefs and attitudes regarding gender roles and equality. Encourage them to challenge any biases they may hold and to educate themselves about the experiences and perspectives of others.
👉🏻Legal and policy measures: Advocate for the implementation and enforcement of laws and policies that protect women’s rights, prevent discrimination, and promote gender equality. Support campaigns that seek legal and policy changes to address chauvinistic practices and behaviours.
Remember that change takes time, persistence, and collective effort. By actively challenging male chauvinism, promoting gender equality, and engaging in dialogue, you can contribute to creating a more inclusive and equitable society.
“Gender stereotypes, biases and chauvinism don’t define a woman. What defines her is her GUT and GRIT!” – Richa Chaturvedi
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