Across societies and countries, people tend to dislike a woman if she raises her voice against disbelief and inhuman values which are deeply ingrained in the society. Patriarchy wants women to follow existing social orders and be submissive when it comes to the issues of transformation and change.
The reality, however, is that we cannot change the status quo until we, as women, unite together and challenge the social order.
Many women leaders from all around the world have come a long way in terms of the fight for justice. Women have already crossed a long journey in terms of fighting for their recognition. We, however, still have a long way to go to attain freedom, justice and equality. Sadly, despite decades of movement, struggle is not over yet.
Our history shows that women were not recognized on different fronts for a long time. Women were not allowed to vote, join the military, keep their maiden name and own property if they were married in certain countries. The form of discrimination has changed now but denial of women’s knowledge, skills and views are still rampant and deeply rooted in the mindset of people.
In order to challenge the existing status quo and deep-rooted perception of gender roles, there should be multipronged initiatives. Both top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top approaches should be adopted to achieve the desired results and changes. The change must start from the grassroot level to the higher point of the pyramid of the women’s status. The change must start from the top level to involve women in the decision-making and policy formulation process.
Some people still try to divert the main agenda of the women’s movement. The popular cliche is “women are enemies of women”, which is deeply rooted in society. This narrative has been created and established by proponents of the patriarchal society and it is strictly enforced at the household level. Women, who are at the forefront of the movement, should put their effort into this type of cliche that tries to divide women and take advantage of their division.
The question isn’t limited to challenging this type of trend. The question today is how women can challenge the status quo that denies women’s presence, dignity and participation. The trend also denies treating them equally and in a dignified way. In my personal opinion, there should be subtle initiatives to change the mindset and it should begin from the household level.
One of the methods can be unlearning. We need to tell societies that what you have learnt is not in line with humanity. It is biased and you need to unlearn the wrong things and learn the new ones.
In contemporary society, there is a concept of the unlearning process. I think this can be a take-off point. Having said this, implementation of the unlearning process can be very complicated. The important questions that can be addressed are how and where this unlearning process should start from. The traditional perception of gender roles enforces the women to be the ideal character in social learning and promoting household values, which itself perpetuates the traditional gender roles. In fact, the engagement and involvement of men should always be included in the process of unlearning. In today’s society, it is necessary and important for a male figure to teach the importance of the unlearning process from home.
We still have a long way to go when it actually comes to translating the promises of equality and equity into action. But one sure thing is that society cannot be civilized without ensuring equality regardless of caste, race and gender.
International Women’s Day was observed on March 8. Let us remember all women who sacrificed their lives in fighting for justice, equality and equity. They were the ones who taught us to fight for our rights. Let us take a vow to change the status quo of society and create a society where everyone is treated equally. It is possible if we all put in efforts from our side. Together, we can change the status quo.
Sujita Dhakal holds Master’s Degree in Law from BPP University, UK.