Growing Up as Boys and Girls
There is a different code of conduct set by our society for boys and girls. These are stereotyped roles and when boys and girls do not behave in the socially prescribed manner, they are ridiculed. For example - when a boy cries, parents often say ‘Stop crying like a girl!’. Sex refers to physical characters that distinguish males and females from each other. Gender refers to the social or cultural differences between males and females. Sex is a biological fact. ‘Male’ and ‘female’ are sex categories. Gender is a social condition. ‘Masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are gender categories. The role of the society is visible when different kinds of toys, games and dresses are given to boys and girls. Later in life, this affects mannerisms, social interactions and career choices.
Gendered division of work is one of the important features of societies. Roles assigned to women are primarily related to housework and bringing up children. In India, tasks assigned to women are devalued and so is the status of women. In urban areas, many women work outside the home and yet do housework. Thus, women are double-burdened. Another serious issue is the plight of women domestic workers. They do all the household work but are not decently paid. Moreover, they are often ill-treated.
The government has an important role to play to ensure gender equality. This means equal empowerment and participation of both men and women in all spheres of public and private life. Article 14 ensures equality to women. Article 15 prohibits any discrimination on the basis of gender. Article 16 guarantees equality of opportunity to all men and women in matters of employment or appointment to any office. Anganwadis were set up by the government to look after children in the age group of 0-6 years. This was done to encourage women to take up employment and for more girls to attend the school. The problem of malnutrition among children has also been addressed through the scheme. Anganwadis also provide medical check up, immunization and care to pregnant women.