It is another of that day when I get to write you as always about life and love and some thoughts to share with you as you grow up. The other day when I was writing something you came over to me and read the word ‘Feminist’ and asked me “Papa what does a Fenimist mean? and I was amused that you could not even say Feminist properly but yet was keen on knowing :). And so I told you that it means “some one who thinks men and women should be equal”. Your reply back to me was a surprise when you said “Feminist is a person who believes in the social political and economic equality of women”.
Though I was not sure where you got that from, you told me that it is all in Beyonce’s song. But I knew that you have always (even at this young age) told me how important it is for men and women to be equal. So Today I want to tell you something about discrimination and the fight for equality and problems in how people perceive things. We live in a world where people discriminate even if they don’t realize it. It has become a very subconscious affair for many people.
There is a word ‘Patriarchy’ which is a system of the society where the father or the eldest male is the head of the family. This system has resulted in women being subdued and oppressed across the world for centuries. The fight for women’s rights is a fight against this system around the world.
The ugly hands of the Patriarchy has subdued not just grown up women but also the girl child who get treated less than the boy child in many parts of the world. I know you remember Malala’s story that you have read in so detail in which she talks about the problems a girl child has to face and go through to go to school and study and learn. In the Society and in families man and woman should have equal rights, one person is in no way above the other, they are all equal.
I know you might not be ready or grown up to fully grasp some of the things I say here but it is important that I say and you can read them when you grow up. But I am proud that you are way ahead in your sense of equality for all. Patriarchy exists across every single caste, race and religion. I know you have no idea what a caste is and no much clue of what a religion is. I have never told you about these because I don’t have one. But many people do think they have a caste or religion and some of them even look at this world through that lens, and build a distorted view of the world. So for me it was important that I do not raise you as part of any caste or religion so you can be a free human being.
Now coming to the demand for equal rights. it is often discussed on a caste, religious or race level. But my personal thought is that all that discussion while important is incomplete without a discussion of women’s rights. Because when it comes to women’s rights violation it breaks through caste, religion and race barriers and happens in every single caste, religion and race.
The world we live in should be ashamed that people talk about equal rights for their caste, religion or race without acknowledging women’s rights and the role of patriarchy in subduing women in their own respective surroundings. This would also mean that even after you get equal rights in terms or caste, religion and race the fight for women’s rights will have to continue. Is there a solution… Yes!!
Women rights should be in the forefront of any equal rights struggle. I would say it is important to have the discussion of gender equality in a broad terms at the forefront of the fight for equal rights. It should break all barriers of conventional norms of inequality and get straight to the very basic inequality of all, which is gender based inequality. There is no other option for making this world fair.
I know some people might say what is wrong with me and if this is the kind of letter a dad writes to a 10 year old on his birthday. Well when we live in a world where 10 year olds are made to labor like adults the whole day; when 10 year olds are thrust with Guns and pushed to fight in wars they do not know anything about, talking about women’s rights and equality to a 10 year old is more than ever important. I say all these because what ever you do in life, where ever you go, never stop raising your voice against inequality. Don’t ever feel ‘what difference you can make’ because if you do the right thing you are making a difference just doing it. Not many people in our world do the right thing or even strive to do it.
I wish you a great Birthday and a beautiful year ahead. For a sweet little boy who will grow up to be a young man before any of us will know. And at that time even if I want time to reverse a few years, it won’t happen. I love you… Enjoy your 10th year