“My World “is a series of insights on gender issues by the people for the people

The author is Dr Sushma Pingale. She is a Consultant Anaesthesiologist in Dr LH Hiranandani hospital, Mumbai.

When there is harmony in home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation there is peace in the world.

-Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

When I ponder over these beautiful lines by our beloved former President, I am attracted to the question- What is the most important thing that brings harmony in home? The first answer that logically comes to mind is that contentment in the hearts of the family members is what brings harmony and at the core of it is the contentment of the lady of the house as she is the epitome of the well-being of a family. But is this fact- her contentment- valued enough?

Sadly, we are yet to reach that stage even though the world harmony somehow seems to be linked with it. To begin with, let's try to figure out what it takes to make a woman happy and content.I don't think it is that difficult a question to answer as is generally believed. In my opinion, a woman's contentment depends on her awareness about the world around, her financial independence and her emotional well being which includes treating her equally and with respect. And as we all understand, this in turn is linked with gender equality for which the struggle is going on for centuries and will probably continue for quite some time to realise it in spirit as well as practice.

As history tells us, women worldover were always treated secondary to the men. It took decades of protests and agitation even in the United States of America, before the right to vote was bestowed on women finally in 1919. In India too, just to give an example, visionary social reformers like Savitribai Phule and Jyotirao Phule had to withstand stone-pelting and multiple other abuses in order to educate girl children.

Gender equality is a state in which one's gender does not determine one's opportunities, freedoms or importance. It is so essential for human progress that it found a place as the fifth sustainable development goal among 17 set up by the United Nations in 2015.

As in everything else, recognising the issue itself is the first essential step towards finding a solution to it. Once that happens, a conscious effort is required to uplift the girl child by educating her about her health and wellbeing, academics and physical training. The mindset which still in large parts of our country looks upon her as some liability who has to be

married off to run someone else's house needs to be changed. On the contrary, she should be educated properly to have her financial Independence and should in practice get equal rights in the family property. While doing all this, one should not forget to nurture her emotional well being as well. Great focus needs to be laid on stimulating her emotional intelligence- the ability to handle one's emotions and interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. This is the most important thing as it is the key to both- her personal and professional success. Recently, one hears a lot about workplace harassment and hence this point needs to be stressed upon.

Lot of positive developments like paid maternity leave, equal rights in property, abolishment of dowry have kindled the gender equality movement. But a lot of work still needs to be done. One shouldn't also forget addressing the entire ecosystem in which she is growing up, like educating the boy child to respect every girl and her choices. Even addressing the other related stereotypes and biases like concepts of beauty, colour of skin, honour etc., is as important.

Although the road to achieving equality in true sense is very long and full of obstacles perpetuated over generations of human existence, I am sure if we all take steps, individually and collectively, then one day there will certainly be harmony in the house, order in the house, order in the nation and peace in the world!

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