Once upon a time women were worshipped because of their ability to birth kids, were considered the centre of life and men were on the periphery, worshippers of women!

... women gradually lost their freedom, mystery, and superior position. Slowly, in varying stages and in different parts of the world, the social order was painfully reversed. Women became the underclass, marked by their visible differences.

Patriarchy was born, men became the dominant force and we continue to live in this society thereon. Patriarchy led to the birth of another term "Feminism", women who demanded equal rights were categorised as being feminists and were believed to have anti societal viewpoints. The topic of Feminism, Equality, Gender role is an area of much interest in the modern society. The ideology of having an egalitarian system is a dilemma because patriarchy is so integrated within our society that unknowingly many of us practise this.

The fact is that all of us, even women have been conditioned into patriarchy through many aspects of culture and this is passed on to the coming generations. In all honesty, I can’t remember when I learnt about the term “Patriarchy”. How do we break the cycle of patriarchy when women themselves forge this idea in their minds? I vividly remember asking my sister’s then unmarried friend, as the only unmarried member of the group , “didi why aren’t you married yet?” I had a feeling of something out of the ordinary for her not being married within a certain age like her peers. Today, I think back on my words with much shame. As a child, I haven’t even been critical about this thought, rather I just assumed a girl is supposed to settle down and have a family. These aren’t one’s personal view, but a result of secondary socialisation, where what is right and wrong is observed by members of a smaller group in a larger society. These ideas are not critical, rather just unconsciously instilled values in oneself. These manufactured ideas of what is ideal for a girl is a result of deep rooted patriarchy.

Occupational Segregation

Patriarchy to be blamed for fewer women in India's job force!

In the Job sector, we often see in families women not being encouraged in pursuing entrepreneurship despite being highly qualified since this would mean stepping down on her duties as a wife or a mom. Eventually, even if they continue to work, they are pushed to the sidelines. In Indian culture, there is a notion that males are breadwinners and women are homemakers, which itself is a result of the patriarchal norms. Much influential work at place is often taken by men, and women’s contribution is often devalued. Thus, the occupational segregation that we see in the labour market has its root in the Family.

Patriarchy and the rural community

While the developed society has it’s own challenges from these deep rooted values and norms, Patriarchy affects rural areas the most. India has a long and unique history of craftsmanship . These crafts are highly women dominated and are passed down to generation.

Although these women are highly talented, the limited exposure for the rural communities robs them the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Informal women workers have systematically been barred from accessing education, and have not been able to develop these skills by being limited to the household. To many women artisans, the access to a quality and fulfilling life is only a dream as they fit in time to weave a cloth while juggling their imposed duties. Men do not contribute in the domestic department. While women continue to juggle between both, the majority of her efforts remain devalued. This invisible labour is the effort that’s not accounted for and is forged on women by the society. There already has been a steady decline in women's contribution in the labour force for the last few years.

Fighting patriarchy- The path ahead

Today we see groups challenging these norms and creating pathways for change. For example, Sadhna an NGO based out of Udaipur is a demonstration of women artisan strength - the organisation of 697 skilled women artisans from different rural and urban slum areas of Udaipur. ReCharkha, run by another change maker, Amita, is an example of women who are making strong mark in the world of entrepreneurship that uplifts and works towards a transformative economy by creating livelihood for the Women and Youth, as they manually weave fabric from Waste Plastic using a traditional Charkha(Spindle) and Handle.

ReCharkha Women

Such women’s collective enterprises can drive job growth and promote their engagement in the labour force. These powerful women are speaking up against the stereotypes, showing how women as leaders break the norms and also turn the society towards adopting critical and progressive values.

Menstruation has been a taboo in the society from always and a reason women have been barred or abolished from important events, while truth lies that it s a natural process that is essential for creating a new life. EcoFemme, founded in 2010 in Tamil Nadu , found by Jessamijn and Kathy is revolutionising feminine care by not only providing access, but also educating women about feminine health, being culturally responsive and adopting sustainable menstrual hygiene practices. These women are uplifting other women, and educating them for a stronger nation.

3 components - Introspection, Relearning, and Empowering

  • The behaviour of parents has a great influence on the child. While as adults we need to Introspect on our actions and learn when our own behaviours reflect internalised sexism, this will help avoid transmission of misogynistic values in the society.
  • Identifying the patriarchal and replacing them with egalitarian values will be the solution to breaking the chain. Girls must learn to recognise themselves as equal and resist discrimination, boys must learn to deconstruct a patriarchal conception of masculinity, and construct egalitarian beliefs.
  • By encouraging informal women workers to run collective enterprises, we are creating a stronger and equal India for a robust economy going ahead.

Women's day 2022, lets break the taboo and help our tribe thrive by moving forward together!

Contributed by: Indulekha Aravindan(Assistant Merchandising Manager@ OurBetterPlanet)

February 23, 2022 — Our Better Planet