Gender Discrimination

Nature has always maintained a balance in the objects of this world in order garnish it with a beauty, and so it produced a balancing factor for each and every object. These balancing factors vary in the proportion of the support they provide to their counter part.
In the same context men & women are considered as the supporting counterpart for each other, but the major conflict in this systematic support is the term ‘gender discrimination’.

‘Gender discrimination’ is often based on gender stereotypes of a particular society, i.e. considering men physically strong and women as emotionally sensitive. It is because of the fact that the term ‘gender’ is often conflicted with the term ‘sex’. Both the terms are used as synonyms of each other in normal context, but there’s a technical difference between the both. ‘Sex’ is a biological differentiation of individuals, categorizing them as males and females, this difference of individuals is same in all the cultures, while ‘gender’ is a social differentiation of individuals which categorizes them as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. This difference determines the role of individuals in a particular society. The role of individuals in different societies is different and thus the role of gender is variable in accordance with the prevailing social setup.

‘Sex’ and ‘gender’ are different in origin but basically the general role of individuals in a particular society is partly based on the physical potentials of individuals. Along with physical requirements individual must have to use his / her mental capabilities in order to move in the society. Gender discrimination in its originality is a phenomenon, by which the role of individuals is determined with in a particular society. Gender Discrimination allows the distribution of the social responsibilities among the members of the society in such an effective manner that one can fulfill his/ her responsibilities by using his/ her physical and mental capabilities at optimum. The conflict of gender discrimination arises when only physical part of one’s strengths is considered and the mental part is neglected. As a result of such half considered phenomenon, individuals are categorized as ‘strong’ and ‘weak’, ‘emotionally strong’ and ‘emotionally sensitive’, ‘competent’ and incompetent’, ‘leaders’ and ‘followers’ etc. In this case the gender discrimination doesn’t remain in its totality or originality and is considered as a factor deteriorating the process of development of human skills.

The major determinants of gender discrimination include the social setup, culture, religion, geographical conditions, economic setup, moral standards and education level of the society. All these factors individually or in combination make up the face of gender discrimination. But the conflict of gender discrimination is divergent in nature as it originates from a single point with different angles. And that point of diversion is ‘Male Chauvinism”. The term ‘male chauvinism’ is a prejudiced belief of an individual or a group of individuals that men are the superior to the women. The ‘male chauvinism doesn’t stop on biased categorization of the society in two groups but furthers the glorify one as more privileged one and another one, merely less privileged. Further more the privileges for one group are decided in accordance with their physical strengths, not the mental capabilities.

In my opinion, ‘male chauvinism’ may be found as an ultimate outcome of individual perception or a way designed by a group of individuals.

‘Male chauvinism’ as an ultimate outcome of individual perception is a situation, where by one perceives himself and individuals of same gender as superior and rest as inferior. This perception of the individual is regardless of any external factor, like, family, society, religious belief, culture etc.

‘Male chauvinism’ at group level can further be classified under the head of social setup, religious belief and cultural heritage. Chauvinism according to social setup is dependent on social and moral values of a particular society. In such society, male individuals are trained to be dominant while females to be submissive. In such a condition, male even being on wrong way are considered to be right and women even being on a right way are considered to be wrong. The moral judgments of such a society are on the basis of physically dominant gender. Not only in social and moral context, the physically strong individual is placed on higher position but in economic, educational and intellectual race as well.

‘Male chauvinism’ defined by a particular religion, restricts the role of one gender in certain acts of practical life while gives liberty to the other in the same. This sort of chauvinism is, however, not the extreme in nature, as it sets boundaries on the basis of both equity and equality. This is not the pure male chauvinism as it tries to maintain equilibrium as well.

‘Male chauvinism’ with reference to cultural heredity is the product of social and religious contexts as both social setup and religion are the major components of any culture. In addition to the two factors discussed above, geographical conditions and economic setups also aid to provoke the thought of male chauvinism.

Male chauvinism being the origin of the conflict of gender discrimination, results in many types of injustice, including social injustice, economic injustice etc. And when there is unjust environment with unequal distribution of opportunities, the balance of the world (mentioned at the very threshold of the writing) disturbs, and one of the counterparts which nature has designed to support the other one loses its potential to support the other. And as a result the so called superior counterpart also collapses.

The story of social and economic injustice with reference to gender discrimination is very long, as it exists in almost all the societies and economies. I’ll quote few conditions of gender discrimination which are responsible for the imbalance in different setups.

First of all I’d quote the gender discrimination at individual level (individual’s thought of male chauvinism’). This type of gender discrimination exists round the globe, regardless of the influence of any religious or social factor. In this context we can’t say that followers of such kind of discrimination are found more in western society than eastern, or they exist more in religion ‘A’ than religion ‘B’. The reason behind this phenomenon can be any physical or psychological factor.
After that comes group level activities which hold the conflict of gender discrimination. In this context economic and social responsibilities of individuals are misallocated. Let’s start it with social responsibilities first. Keeping females away from general education, holding that they are not supposed to participate in any economic activity so there’s no need to educate them, is one of the major examples from Asian social setups. Women are discouraged in other social concerns as well, for instance people will heartily accept a man as their leader even if has some criminal record in the past, but for a woman it’ll be impossible to become the leader of a mass (for a social issue) if she’d been involved in a minor crime. Critiques may prove me wrong in this saying by quoting the example of ‘Phoolan Devi’, the bandit queen who rose her voice against the unjust society and lead the gang of robbers for more than a decade, she was made the member of ‘lok sabah’ (Indian national assembly) latterly. But let me clarify it earlier, that letting her be in the house was a political game whereby she was used by so called ‘male chauvinists’ for their personal benefits and she was brutally killed latterly.

One can further argue that, ‘Phoolan Devi’ is the case of Asian society only, west has nothing to do with such kind of discrimination. So I’d place the example of ‘Merlin Monro’ the legendary heroine of Hollywood here. She had been used by Kennedy Brothers (one of whom have been the president of USA as well) for their political and personal requirements and when she dared to demand for the opportunity in Kennedy’s cabinet was poisoned. If it’s not enough to hold that west is also discriminating individuals on the basis of gender. I’d just place a query, why USA couldn’t have a single woman president in their history of more than 200 years. I don’t mean to say that west is having too much gender discrimination, but only that they also have the element of gender discrimination in their society, though its ratio is very low as compared to the rest of the world.

Economic aspect of ‘gender discrimination’ is also of utmost importance. Economically there are two different criterion for the participation of individuals in economic activities. Firstly in enlightened parts of Asia, women are encouraged to get educated, so girls heartily join the technical courses. But after getting technically or professionally qualified they are not granted permission to play their role as an earning member of the family, so they don’t participate in economic activities and hence their professional qualification goes in the bin. Don’t go far; just have a glimpse of ‘medical studies in Pakistan’. As the admission in medical colleges is subjected to the merit, and luckily girls excel in academics so more girls avail admissions in medical colleges. After getting qualified from their as M.B.B.S, 90% of the girls do not practice, due to social hurdles. And according to careful approximations, it takes about Rs.150, 000 to prepare one doctor. Now the mass which do not practice wastes public finance. The other face of the picture shows that, boys who can’t seek admission in medical college, due to failure in aptitude test (those who are able to study medical, and to practice at full as well) change their field of study, although they’d planned for medical for a long time. Only a part of them gets adjusted with the new field and rest continues the alien field with unsatisfactory level of work. This unsatisfactory situation leads them towards economic and social crises.

The above mentioned criteria better suits in Asian region. Another act of gender discrimination can be found in the last decade, where by more and more females are encouraged to avail job opportunities in different sectors of economy. May be there’s some constructive thought behind this act, but research shows that organizations prefer female workers over male workers because, they are more hardworking, accurate , they work on less remuneration than that of male workers, and she bears the bossy nature of the employer without uttering a word of grief. Here not women are on hit of capitalists, but men also. Women are over burdened and paid less, while men are deprived of the opportunity even they are equally qualified and have same potentials for the same job.

Concisely, in unaware parts of the world, woman is considered as a liability, not an asset, as she’s not the earning member of the family and she has to rely on the male member of the family for her needs. And man being the earning member of the family is considered as the dominant member of the family so woman is deprived of the opportunities for which she qualifies. And in mean corporate sector, men are deprived of the equal employment opportunity for cost effectiveness and to maintain the bossy environment.
For such corporate behavior, the equal employment law of 1964, in it’s section VII states that, if two individuals have equal level of qualification, they ought to be paid equally.” This law further discourages any kind of discrimination on the basis of gender, race or colour.

The conflict of ‘gender discrimination’ is a long term issue, and there’s no such tool which can bring a change in status quo. Formulating a law is not the solution of the problem. Laws which have already been made are comprehensive. Need is there to put them in practice and then evaluating the performance of the law. This campaign should not be kept on the shoulders of the government of the country, instead domestic, regional and international organizations should plan and execute these laws in collaboration with the local governments. Further, mass media can play a vital role in bringing awareness among the general public. Social reforms of the societies by inviting the leaders of the societies at a bigger arena can also help to resolve the conflict.

Along with the group activities mentioned above the intellect part of the society should also play their part. Intellect portion of the society is considered to have an influence on the leading bodies of the society, so these people should express the right face before the society by mentioning sound basis.

Finally I’d conclude that, ‘gender discrimination’ in its originality is not a curse. Nature has structured individuals in different physical proportions, but mental capabilities are kept same for both men and women. And social responsibilities don’t only require physical strength but mental strength as well. So the distribution of responsibilities should not be based only on physical potentials, it brings conflicts. And these conflicts can only be resolved by filling the missing part of mental capabilities, and maintaining a balance between the distribution of responsibilities on the basis of equality and equity.

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