My life was/is a Bliss...
Life is long and I had seen a lot but cannot write down each and every incidence in this article. Thus, trying to make an account of some events in my life and comparing them with the life of other girls living in my own society or community.
When it come to me I am from an Upper Middle-Class (Muslim) family based in a small town of India. My parents were/are semi-conservative. I was born in a family of four i.e. mother, father, elder brother and me (the fourth one).
I am my brother's dream come true as he was the only son for the first seven years of his life. He always wanted a sibling and that too a sister. The best part is that my father (expired 2007) wanted a daughter and gave best of everything in this world.
I was a real-life Disney Princess with three parents instead of two. I got all the comforts and luxuries of my life including good education, school, colleges, books, expensive clothes, shoes, jewellery, accessories, bags, cosmetics, toys etc.
When it comes to my mum she is educated but cannot read, write or speak English. If today I can communicate in English is because of her. She was the one who told my father that she want me to be enrolled in a Convent School (run by Christian Missionaries in India).
That's not all !
My mum focused on my overall grooming thus I am not only a double post graduate i.e M.Sc (Botany) and M.B.A. (HR). I can also cook, embroider (around 40-50 types), knit, stitch/sew, crocheting, bake and can run the entire household including a wedding or engagement ceremony.
When it comes to my father he did not treat me like a daughter. I was his younger son and he gave me gender equality in almost everything. He was the one who is behind all my hobbies such as reading, writing, painting, dancing, gardening, yoga, aerobics, cycling, walking etc.
When it comes to my brother he is the one because of whose dedication, commitment and sincerity I am so well educated. When my father died in Jan 2007, he sent me for MBA to Sheffield University, South Yorkshire, U.K.
A small example of his love, care and sacrifice as an adolescent is :-
In the year 1994, I was in 9th standard and joined tutorials. At that time he was studying and was very busy. Besides, I was not getting any auto or rickshaw to go to tutors. To avoid loss of my education, he gifted me a two wheeler (Sunny Bajaj) worth Rs.15,000 ($230) from his savings. At that time he was not earning and those were the savings from his pocket money. I feel so lucky that God had given everything to me especially a wonderful, loving, caring and financially sound family.
But it does not mean that there were no trials or barriers. The main barriers were from society.
I started dancing at the age of 1.5 yrs or 2 yrs. My mum is very religious and was against it but my dad recognised my talent. Thus, I joined a Kathak dance school at the age of 2 1/2 yrs in Jhansi, India.
As my father was in Railways (Central Government Job, India); he was transferred on request to Saharanpur, U.P., India. It's my hometown as it's near to my ancestral village. The majority of my relatives live there, in nearby villages and a Muslim population is dominant as well as highly conservative. As a result of which I had to quit my dancing as it was considered as the profession of immoral (women).
The second big issue was dressing conservatively due to the Muslim society's narrow perspective towards a woman’s body i.e. covering from head to toe. Luckily I got a good education, drove vehicles, wore western clothes in the school. From 7th standard till 12th standard, I was restricted to wear a suit, salwar with dupatta. As according to my mum; my father instructed her that he has to marry me within a Muslim family. That's why mum should stop buying the western outfit for me. He wanted to make sure that when I will grow up and get married; I should be able to live according to wish and culture of Muslim society and my future in-laws.
The best part was that when I joined my Grad. College we went together to shop western outfits for me. At that time my dad said that now you are moving to a metro city and is not living in a small conservative town. So, you are free to wear whatever you want to.
The Other Side ...
But everyone is not as lucky in my locality as I am. First of all, poverty is widely prevalent due to lack of proper education. It's a small town with very few good and well-paid jobs. Those who are rich are with ancestral farms, land, businesses, factory, government jobs and degrees like M.B.B.S., M.B.A., L.L.B, Ph.D., B Pharm etc. These people do not stay in town as they get better opportunities and packages in metro cities. Usually, the maximum number of people settled down in these cities and never looked back.
I wish that these people would have looked back and had contributed something towards the development of their own town.
When it comes to women she is the one who suffers most in my society. First of all, parents put their money towards educating sons, not daughters. These girls will start working at an early age as a house maid or do other odd jobs. So that they can add to the income of their household to support their parents.
Most of the time boys do not work even if they are grown up and sisters have to support their expenses.
These girls are easy prey to crimes such as sexual harassment and rapes by the boys of well off family or adult male within society or households where they work. For eg. a few months ago five girls of age between 16-24 were raped/gang raped in my society and there was no news. One of them were a mentally retarded teenager.
Although the privately owned schools have popped everywhere near the locality and quite a lot had changed in terms of women literacy rate. But the problem is no vocational training or incomplete education, at times early marriage even in a well educated and well off families.
Real life example :-
I realised that above given information is insufficient to make you understand the hardships of women in my society. Thus, let’s take a glimpse in the life of a woman I know so very well.
One of my maids ---
She quit her education as she fell in love and got married to a cousin. She completed her education till eight standards. Her marriage did not work as her husband remarried a better looking and younger women. She was abandoned with three kids and working as a house help in several houses. She is earning less than $35 per month to support her family. Out of three kids, her two sons are also earning (age 10 yrs and 12 yrs). Her sons earn $4 each per month. They do not go to school (all three), cannot buy good clothes on the festival and cannot afford daily meals.
Vision as a Conclusion:-
According to my analysis what I realised that the major cause for this situation of women is the lack of proper education which can enable them to create self-employment or to work with small scale businesses. If they will get some financial help such as scholarships etc. They can continue their education.
Another, issue which is the main contributor towards the high population of the less educated women is a lack of practice of “Gender Equality” within the family and society.