Of the million sperms that flood in and the 1/60 odds of being the gender that is, by the middle of the second trimester a woman realises that she bears a baby girl! That is if she knows at all. The struggle of not being equal to the man starts here for the little foetus. She hopes against hope that she is retained in the womb, nurtured with the same care and dreams and of nourishment that her male counterparts will automatically receive. The males in the womb won’t even realise how they have it so easy all the time!
And then she comes out to the world. The care, concern, love from all and affection from the elders is no easy access for her. While her male friend gets it all in a platter there are about 60% plus baby girls who get nothing of this kind. Dumped in corners, feeding the malnourished chests of their mothers (most times the mums are not taken care of if she has borne a girl, remember!) the little girl begins to crave for a space to live.
She grows up with the boys, fighting for the recognition – that familiar sign of approval from her fathers and uncles and grand-parents – that familiar sign that her brothers and cousins and the boys in the basti take so much for granted! She plays all the games with them, she runs with them, climbs with them, laughs with them and gets laughed at by them – yet she hangs out with them more and more – only so that she can prove to her family that she can be like the boys at home. She runs to fetch things for them, hands out water, towels and plates full of food to them, cleans up before them, cleans up after them – resigns to eat only the remains. Remains patient waiting for the careless nod of approval from them – that she is one among them!
Her large part of childhood is spent like this and then its time for schooling. She gets to go to school if she is lucky! But her brothers will be asked to go to school with pride and joy. Even then she remains flinched, yet ready to do what she is expected to. Asking, seeking, demanding – she has not heard of this!
She turns 12/13 and the red stain paints a redness in her eyes for life! Her wings that had begun to emerge in her heart are snapped for life. She is asked to remain indoors, speak only when spoken to, not mingle with ‘boys’ anymore. and school? Why does a girl need education in High School when she just needs to help around at home? She sees her brothers grow and bloom and father has bought a new cycle for Bhaiya or sends him to a school in another town or city – so that the ‘boy’ who is born to shine the family honour does not suffer a single setback!
This is when she starts understanding that she is different and her life is a gift to her from the elders – they let her stay remember? Her restricted movements sees further obstacles. The ‘boys’ and ‘uncles’ in the basti begin to see her – like really see her from top to toe. She feels uncomfortable when the male teachers and classmates get close to her – 80% of girls suffer from abuse, harassment and sexual violence at some level – no matter who she is and where from! The ‘boys’? If they are not messing with her (which we know that all boys don’t), then they are oblivious to this too!
After all the 20-22 years of climbing the hill, proving herself, fetching things, running errands, trying to cope, share, shoulder, respect, follow, the poor girl sometimes even makes to a place of work! She studies and proves to her employers that if they employ her their company will not go bust and they will continue to grow according to their 5-year strategy! Then what do we see here? It’s no mean feat right? She is attacked for getting married, taunted for getting pregnant and traumatised all through child care (Its biology, you see! The woman has to get pregnant and only she can nurse the baby! I’m so sure the almighty creator is a man!). There is constant comparison, lack of acceptance and harassment she faces at every stage – be it her boss, family or even colleagues. Sometimes its even her women colleagues who suddenly see only competition and blind their eyes to another woman’s struggle!
So, when does it ever end? When does she feel equal? When can she feel valued for who she is rather than be penalised for who she is not?! The answer dear friends lies too deep within each of us. Unless we see equal we feel equal!