A woman and her place in society are not secure. The work done by her at home in the form of household chores and taking care of all family members are not recognized. At every step, she has to fight for her rights. In this module, we would look at what other forms of work are typically associated with women. We would also try to understand their struggle for equality and trace the changes that have taken place in recent years. Let us learn more on how women change the world.
We develop a mindset as to the kind of work that can be associated with each gender. Women are typically seen as the homemakers while men as the breadwinners. In the job scenario, women are seen as doing the jobs that are considered safe for them. So they become teachers or nurses, roles that fit with their image of caretakers.
Professions that require scientific or technical knowledge are not considered fit for women. Firstly, because of the risks involved and secondly because of the stereotype attached that women cannot handle technical things.
As a result of these stereotypes, we find focusing more on educating the boys for professions such as doctors, engineers, pilots, etc. Other professions like a businessman or an entrepreneur or farmers are also typically associated with the boys. Girls do not get the same support from their parents and do they finish their studies they are married off.
However, there are some girls who have broken the stereotypes and taken up the jobs that were typically a male domain. Let us take a look at one such case.
Women Change the World: Case Study
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
“If I can build a company like Biocon, anyone can”- these are the inspiring words of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, the owner of Bicon industries. Today, the Bicon industry is a pioneer in the field of biotechnology. But the success did not come easy for her. She struggled hard to become the most successful women entrepreneur in India. Born in 1946 in Bangalore, Kiran was inspired by her father, who was a master brewer.
Her education began in Bishop Cotton Girls School and then Mount Carmel College. She was a topper in science from Bangalore University. She then went on to Ballart College, Melbourne, Australia, specializing in Malting and Brewing technology, to become India’s first woman in all-male class but she still managed to be at the top. At the age of 25 and with a mere Rs 10,000 in her bank, she set her foot into the male domain of business.
‘Building an enterprise is like embarking on a voyage of discovery,’ she said. From her first challenge of breaking stereotypes regarding women entrepreneurs to today’s challenge of developing products from biotechnology to combat diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune disease, Ms. Shaw said, her journey to the top has been strewn with social, technological, and new scientific challenges. But the key to overcoming hurdles was through constant preserving and a belief and passion for one’s work.
During the earlier hardships, she and her core team faced, Ms. Shaw, maintained a sense of purpose which helped her overcome those ordeals. Today Bicon stands proud on a world stage. Bicon’s endeavor was to prove to the world that it was possible to build a world-class biotechnology firm in India and that a woman can succeed.
Women Change The World – Bringing about a change
Today getting an education or going to school is pretty common. Both boys and girls go to the schools. But what is perceived as common today was not so easy in the past. In the past, girls and women did not have access to education or schools. While men could read and write women were forbidden to even look at the books. Those girls who dared to acquire knowledge were not treated well by society.
The contribution of the daughters of women in the family was seen as only a supportive one. No primary role was assigned to them. However, with the socio-religious reformers changes were brought about in the society, and education for girls was emphasized.
Schools become more common and people who had never been to the school started sending their children to the school. However, the education of the girls still did not receive the desired results. Women struggled to read and write.
Let us look at the case of study: Bhanwari Devi; who in spite of all odds, was successful in completing her studies and finally getting a government job. It was very difficult for us, to study because of the social stigma that was attached to girls’ child education. Whenever I used to show my desire to study, I was severely beaten up. I was only asked to do household work. Still, I managed to study at the time, whenever everybody was asleep.
Now after completing my education, I have got a government job. Now, I hope my story becomes an inspiration to many young girls, who would like to study and make their careers.
Women Change The World – Equality in Education
Both boys and girls attend schools today. However, this does not mean equality in education has been received because the number of boys and girls studying in schools is still disproportionate. The number of girls attending the schools today is still much less than the desired numbers. Let us take a look at some of the census figures which give us details of the literate people in India from 1961 till 2001.
Is the increase in the number of girl students substantial between 1961 and 2001? As you can see the percentage of literate males in 1961 was 40.4 and in 2005 was nearly 76%. The percentage of women literates in 1961 was as low as 15.4%. Through government efforts, this number has risen to 54%. Yet almost half the female population is illiterate.
The reasons for this are many and varied. Generally, poor families cannot afford to send their children to school, and if they do it has to be the male child who can be the breadwinner and not the girl child. Secondly, in rural areas, sometimes the schools are not located nearby which means that the girls have to travel a long distance to reach the school. Parents do not consider this safe for girls and hence they are deprived of schooling.
Sometimes the girls are discriminated against in the schools, particularly if they belong to the Dalit or the scheduled tribe category of the social differences that exist in our society. As a result, a number of girls drop out. Yet another reason for their dropping out of school or not attending it is the practice of early marriage or child marriage which is still prevalent in many parts of India.