is 'groomed' to be an asset for others but not for herself.
She is rarely encouraged to think of herself as an individual
- it is as if she shouldn't have any identity!
in families where boys and girls are supposedly equal, there
is discrimination. But rarely does the girl growing up in
such families feel she is being discriminated. She is given
the same material comforts and good schooling. The difference
being - early on roles have been typecast. Where the boy's
abilities, latent or non-existent, are nurtured with full
force and he is groomed to be a doctor, engineer, successful
businessman or take on the family mantle, a totally dependant
role is carved out for the girl. Where the male child realizes
his 'immense' potential, the girl grows up not even realizing
she has one. She rarely grows up knowing that she has it in
her to become something big. A girl has to show a lot of fire,
brilliance and determination to be allowed to make something
of herself. Very often, even then the determined woman has
to face many obstacles. Where a man is encouraged and admired,
a woman is often discouraged and laughed at for wanting to
try out something on her own.
in times of crisis is a woman forced to test her abilities
- when a husband dies or the family is in great financial
crisis. That is what happened to western women during the
Second World War. With all able-bodied males on the battlefront,
women came into their own; and those societies were transformed
forever. In such circumstances a woman cannot hope for the
traditional support that a man has when carving out his career.
No wonder my friend says "we would be seeing a lot more
successful women if only they had wives!"
Women are capable of so much if only they are given the encouragement
and same opportunities as men. Low levels of literacy and
lack of exposure or experience are not at all a hindrance
to their contribution to society. Recently a few of our colleagues
visited Dr Aroles' Comprehensive Rural Health Project in Jamkhed,
Maharashtra. There the primary healthcare is provided by illiterate
women, often from the lower rungs of the society. Dr Arole
trained them systematically to provide health services including
prenatal counseling, deliveries etc. When these village health
workers interacted with my colleagues, some of whom happen
to be physicians, they were amazed at the confidence, poise,
knowledge and skills of these ordinary women. In fact one
competent family practitioner lightly commented "I am
beginning to question my own ability" !
are many instances where women have made it big in a man's
world. But this required the display of a lot of ability,
grit and determination. As some one said "Whatever women
do, they had to do twice as well to be thought half as good.
Luckily this is not difficult!"
high quality health care can be delivered with the help of
"ordinary" women, just imagine what can be achieved
if the potential of millions of Indian women is tapped and
given an opportunity to contribute to the societal good.