Boys and Girls
The term gender is an often heard term by all of us. It is something all of us experience on a daily basis. It determines who we are, what we will become, where we can and cannot go and so on.
Our understanding of gender is based on our family and society. For example, men generally go out to work and women are at home. But the general perception of these different roles differs across communities around the world. Most societies value men and women differently which is elaborated as under.
Distinction between boys and girls
The society treats girls and boys very differently. This distinction starts from a very young age. Some of the aspects in which there is a distinction are as follows:
- Toys: Boys and girls are given different toys to play with. Toys in a way tell them that the future of the boys and girls, when they grow up to be men and women, will be very different.
- Dresses: There is a difference in the way the society expects girls and boys to dress up. Boys wear shorts and shirts, while girls wear skirts or frocks.
- Way of talking: Girls are expected to talk softly whereas boys are expected to be tough.
All the above distinctions affect the subject studied and the careers chosen by men and women. Even the games that men and women play or the work they do, are not valued equally. Men and women do not have the same status.
Across the world, the main responsibility of household work and taking care of the family is that of the women. It involves multitasking skills. Yet the work women do is not recognized as work. It is considered as something that comes naturally to women and they have to do it. They are therefore, not paid for it also.
Life of Domestic Workers
Many homes, especially in urban areas employ domestic workers. They do a lot of work including washing utensils, clothes, sweeping, mopping, cooking etc. Most of them are women, though sometimes even young boys and girls are employed for such work.
The wages are low since domestic work does not have much value. But their life is very challenging. A domestic worker’s day may start as early as 5 in the morning and end at midnight! In spite of taking so much effort, the domestic workers are generally treated in a very inhumane way by their employers.
Challenges faced by women
The following are the challenges faced by women in their day-to-day life:
What we call housework actually involves different tasks which are physically demanding. Some of such tasks done by women are:
- Fetching water from a distance
- Carrying heavy loads of firewood
- Washing clothes, cleaning, sweeping etc.
All the above work requires bending, lifting and carrying. Work like cooking involves standing in front of the gas burner for long hours. Hence not only the work of men, but also the work of women is very strenuous.
Time consuming job: The house work demands a lot of time. If we add up the work done by women at home and outside home we will find that women spend more hours working than men. They have much less leisure time.
The work done by women inside and outside home is called double burden of women's work.
Women’s work and equality
The low value attached to a women’s work is actually a part of the larger system of inequality between men and women. This has been there for ages. It has to be dealt with at the family level and also by the government.
Government's role in ensuring equality
Equality is an important principle in our Constitution. But in reality, inequality on the basis of gender exists. The government is therefore committed to understanding the reasons for it and taking steps to solve it. For example, it understands that the responsibility of home and child-care falls on women. This therefore has an impact on whether girls can attend school, whether women can go for work or what kind of work they can take up. As a remedy to the situation, the government has therefore:
- Set up anganwadis or child-care centres in many villages in the country.
- Passed laws that make it mandatory for organizations that have more than 30 women employees, to provide crèche facilities. This helps women to take up employment outside home and girls to attend schools.
Do You Know?
International Women's Day is celebrated worldwide on March 8 every year for recognizing the role of women in the society.