The International day of the girl child is celebrated to spread awareness about issues faced by young girls and how they, like women, are struggling to fit in a patriarchal society. So, this day was established with the most basic notion to make them feel empowered about themselves.
It is also necessary, at the same time, to understand what the general public makes out of the state of affairs and how they perceive it. The survey that NMC conducted in regard to this day was quite insightful as it proved to be a way to comprehend what our society thinks about this day in general. Moreover, it helped us look into aspects that we couldn’t have considered otherwise, and for these being the reasons for the survey, we bring to you a report based on our findings.
About 89.6% of the people who had filled the form held the belief that the International day of the girl child was indeed different from the International Women’s day. A majority of the answers, as to stating why they felt so inclined to the fact that it is important to protect and treasure the girl child’s life in order for them to grow up to become strong independent women. Rightfully so, the other answers complimented the same statement citing that the female gender undergoes different phases as a daughter, a mother, a sister, etc who face different problems at each stage of their life that deserve to be addressed.
The respondents went one step ahead to draw comparisons between both the aspects by asserting potent facts that follow. The International day of the girl child is to fight for the injustice faced by young girls that include female foeticide and infanticide, domestic violence and lack of basic amenities like healthcare safety and education. Whereas, the International Women’s day celebrates women who have achieved remarkable heights in their respective domains and careers in addition to fighting for equal rights and opportunities for men and women alike.
To add on, they also expressed their concern regarding the fact that young girls should be made well aware of the threats and violent claims that will be thrown their way just because they belong to a specific gender. Moreover, the survey-takers asserted that young girl children should be taught self-defence and given the strength to fight against any form of discrimination they come across from a young age.
When asked about the same, many people have voiced that females in general face a lot of discrimination beginning from their own houses. Starting from a tender age, boys are scolded as to “not to cry like a girl” or “not to fight like girl”. Moreover, girls aren’t conventionally allowed to go play outside. The motivation and rigour to excel in studies given by parents to their children is far less intense in the case of girls than boys. It is also to be noted that girls are usually expected to do household chores more than boys when in hindsight, it is indeed a life skill a human cannot survive without. It shows how children learn from their parents, and gender discrimination is so deep rooted that people often don’t realize that they’re raising their kids to accept sexism and patriarchy as the norm.
Social media has also become an integral part of our lives, and has a huge impact on young, impressionable minds. Therefore, when we asked the respondents to give their opinions on how this affects young girls and their perception of themselves some wrote about how social media allows girls to educate themselves on issues like abuse and gender based discrimination. However, most of them highlighted its adverse effects such as body shaming, the constant objectification of girls, and bullying. Social media allows people to harass others without any consequence, and young girls often fall into this continuous spiral of negativity. The unrealistic beauty standards also lead to a crippling inferiority complex and low self esteem. Paradoxically, it spreads awareness about gender bias on one hand, and promotes it on the other.
Finally, the survey wouldn’t have been complete without raising a question about feminism, trying to understand what it meant to each person- considering the fact that it’s been a source of debate on several platforms. While many of the respondents answered that feminism meant ensuring that women and men are given equal opportunities, we also got quite a few of them who denounced it, stating that they stood for equality. The meaning behind the whole movement has been changed in such a way that feminism is now seen as a hatred for the masculine gender, instead of being seen as the call for unbiased treatment as it had originally begun.
There is a long way to still go. Changes need to be made with respect to how we think and how we let society dictate how we live our lives, because we are the society. And, how many ever laws are executed, there will never be any real change unless we are aware of our own biases and take personal initiative to create a better society for everyone.
– written and curated by Anjana Srivatsa, Tanzeela Inam and Nishka Pandya.