I used to be a feminist when I was in high school, naively arguing with my classmates (especially egoistic males) about gender equality and insisting on doing most of the things without asking for the guys’ help. When I entered university, I observed that many of the females who were talking about equal opportunities for both genders, also complained that males nowadays were not chauvinistic anymore. I was perplexed… if we want equality, why are we expecting to still be treated as a weaker sex? I suppose the arguments are complex and I just oversimplified the whole picture. Since then, I stopped thinking about gender equality and bought more into equal opportunity and meritocracy. Give us a level field to play in, and judge us based on our capabilities. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many parts of the world.
I came to know about Half The Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn when they were interviewed in The Oprah Winfrey Show. I am aware of rampant poverty in Africa and some parts of Asia. Coming from an Asian family myself, I am also very familiar with the cultural perception that “boys are more worthy than girls”. Nevertheless, reading the book horrified me. The details of what girls in the two places mentioned above went through just because they were girls, redefined the need for equal opportunity, especially in education. They are not talking about who had to wash dishes or had to take care of the babies. They are talking about gross violations of human rights – human trafficking, being denied of pre- and post-natal care and child marriages among others.
Things will not be perfectly fair, but I believe that creating an awareness as such on the plight of others can change our mindsets, hopefully our attitudes as well, and in turn make the world a better place to live in for both males and females.