Women\'s day celebration should start from home

Tasmiah Nuhiya Ahmed | Thursday, 24 March 2016

The World Economic Forum envisaged that  global gender parity would be achieved by the year 2014. They also projected in the following year that a slowdown in the frosty pace of development of  global gender parity meant that gender gap wouldn't close completely in foreseeable future. 
This year the theme of the International Women's Day was "Pledge for Parity". The day has been celebrated this year all over the world including Bangladesh but the spirit of this celebration seems not to have been adequately understood by many. In Dhaka city we saw both men and women in purple outfits participating in seminars, symposiums, rallies, conferences. 
The sad part is that we overlook the fact that this celebration should begin at our homes from the day a girl is born and the celebration should go on during her journey of becoming a woman the way she wants. We have seen both men and women talking about achieving gender parity, how to help women and girls achieve their goals and ambitions. However, if we look at our homes, we see a difference in treatment of a girl child and a boy child. The mentality of our society does not allow a chance  to be missed to weaken, if not totally destroy the confidence of a woman who stands for her right, who speaks up for what she thinks and does not want to see failure in her life. A new dimension is added with this confidence-hurting mission when a blemish is found in that woman. In such a situation, the family where the woman was raised cannot even come to her help. Her own family gets trapped in the social customs and traditions dictated by so called binding norms prevailing in this man's world. 
In normal situations also, it is the so called social norms that come to determine to what extent a girl can dream, what she should desire and what her limits are. It's not the outsiders rather her very own people who start putting limits and bars on all that she calls her happiness. So, it is home where she once learnt dreaming for her life and achieving what she wants, becomes eventually a stumbling block on her way forward. 
Conventional family values, ethics and moral principles are not meant to be taught to a girl only to fend off a girl's aspirations in life. Rather the girl should be taught to face the challenges successfully in her path by developing her self-belief. 
The traditional sense of responsibility of a woman in our society should not be imposed on her from the days of her childhood. She should know what she needs to do and what she deserves when she is a daughter, a wife, a mother, a working woman. 
Every woman has her own story of struggle in life. To make a woman capable of fighting against this hostile environment, it is her family that can make her see the opportunities of self-empowerment. Again, it is her family that should teach her that she has to earn the respect, honour and freedom to pursue her life, aspirations and career.
Women need to sensitise or educate men around them and they should start with the males of their own homes. The necessity for women to become outspoken about their rights, imposed duties and imaginary limitations of our society both at home and outside is quite evident. Thus, becoming determined and vocal about her own perspectives may be the first attempt that she can take to establish herself as self-empowered. She should raise her voice to establish that she was not born to live the life others prescribe for her. An enabling environment is all that a woman needs to break free. A girl should put all her efforts to remove these so called social barriers.  
Families should teach their girls to be courageous, more inspirational in pursuing their goals and ambitions in order to ensure that they pave the way for a smooth journey for the next generation. 
The writer is Research Assistant (Law), Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA). [email protected]