Where is 'she'?

Women are missing - and not just from the text. Where is the empowerment?


Shivangi Gupta | June 1, 2010

It is a man’s world after all. We even refer to God as he.

Even my liberal parents get a headache if one day I decide to come home late, whereas, my male friends wax eloquent about their after-hours escapades, which mostly are a ‘men-only’. Good girls stay in after dark; it’s not safe, you see.

I live in the national capital- a city bordering some of the biggest states of India. States, where being a girl is a birth defect. Why else would someone get rid of a foetus so eagerly, as if it was a malignant growth?

I have studied in one of India’s top b-schools, where, like most other b-schools of India, the gender ratio is more skewed than the states I was referring to.

Today, the editors of this magazine I work for get an idea. They want me to write a piece on gender equality in India. I could write an epic. They want it to be tongue in cheek, not grave. Easy for them to say- all of them are men. There you go with the gender equality, dear sirs. (Hope that was tongue in cheek enough.)

They show me a document titled “Brochure on Preparation & Maintenance of Annual Performance Assessment Report for Central Civil Services.” They tell me it refers to the employee as mostly he, him, his and not they, them, their or even he/she, him/her, his/her. If this is the case with an HR document of the GoI, how can they hope to succeed with the women’s reservation bill? They even view their employee as a man.

This is just a document, it doesn’t mean anything, I think. The gender situation is not so bad. Some of the most influential people in India right now are women (Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee- take your pick). Arguably, the most important Prime Minister we have had was a woman (Mrs. G). Even our current President is a woman! It’s not so bad.

Except that it is. Between 1970 and 2009, India has had 4480 IAS officers, out of which only 621 were women. Skewed gender ratio, did someone say? Perhaps we need reservation in civil services also, along with the parliament. And in the police forces, and in the military, and in the engineering colleges, and in the b-schools, and some more. And, after all of that, we need a society that does not typecast gender based roles. It is about time people stopped gushing about superwomen who managed a successful career along with playing able housewife. We need house-husbands for Christ’s sake!

Yet, I think there is hope. India, at least, has had women in top positions. Unlike a certain other superpower, which preferred a black man over a woman to contest for President. And no apologies for the racist tone, women have had it worse than black men!



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