It is 25 November. You hear that the next-door neighbour had a baby; it is a beautiful little girl entering the world where she can create her destiny. A life to achieve her highest potential. To live with the same rights as the fellow boy that was born on the same time, same day, same year and the same environment. But how can it possibly pan out for her, influenced by her gender, which she has no control over?
She might be forced into a marriage, a girl child, and pays a dowry to the groom and his family for accepting her into the family. She might face marital rape, genital mutilation and different traditional cultural practices harming her. She might be dating or married to a man who feels he is superior, just because he is a man and, therefore, he feels he owns her and can do as he pleases. She even gains a vocabulary; femicide. She is treated as an object, subject to harassment whereby people feel they have every right to make any comments about her body. The irony is that none of how she is treatment is based on her personality, her abilities, and her competency. It is because she is a girl or a woman. Those lucky enough to get the same level of education and gain an equal amount of skills to the equivalent male counterpart are subjected to lower pay. Why? That's right, because she is a woman.
The word 'feminist' has gained popularity and has stigma associated with it. If asking to be respected and treated fairly means being a feminist; if getting equal rights to male counterparts means being a feminist, then we should all be feminists. It is high time we all fought against being labelled, being discriminated and stop living double standards.
Therefore, today, the 25 November, let’s all celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Let's be aware of the existing issues and not brush them off as if they do not matter or they are not applicable. They are applicable to each one of us, whatever background, whatever lifestyle we lead. Every man or woman. Every human being. Lets say no to objectifying people and, let us not label someone because it is the social norm or give superiority to one human being over the other.
Education. Awareness. These are the ways we can tackle these issues. Educating the children, and ourselves, the decision makers of the now and the future, to love and respect all people equally. Regardless of their physiology, race, religion and culture. Helping build a positive mind-set of the children, by showing examples of how both genders deserve equal rights will help breakdown the injustice. Every woman that we ever come across is someone's mother, sister, and daughter. Question how you would treat your mother, sister, and daughter.
Although the United Nations is trying to tackle gender inequality and violence against women, the funding and efforts carried out are insufficient. So, my request is to you, do not wait for someone else to change our world for the better. Let’s become the change and show positive examples for others to follow. Let us not accept that because things have been done a certain way for thousands of years that means that it has to be the same for thousands of years more. Like violence against women, if we all practice what we preach and fight against inequality and violence, the world can be a better place. Let’s make our story about love, compassion and equality.
Written by ICS Alumni Usha Kiran Adhikari (July - September 2016 cycle, Villa San Antonio, Honduras)