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GENDER DISTINCTIONS ARE TO BE APPRECIATED FOR THE

INCOMMUTABLE DIFFERENCES BEING NATURALLY COMPLEMENTARY

 

 

S.Aravamudhan

 

ABSTRACT

 

From practice it is known that there are gender differences in the average capabilities and the kind of tasks accomplished. For the human beings to be considered as a unified entity these differences, which cannot be exchanged mutually among the genders, must be reconciled with moderation on the encountered extremities in differences, and with accreditation when the differences can be recognized by one gender as the natural talent of the other gender. Such a distinction is a necessary variety for the living. But this comprehension of the provisions in nature is not within the awareness of common people. Further when people are mostly illiterates and the educational levels are not up to the mark, the required moderation at the differences can be forthcoming mostly on the compassionate grounds and much less on the basis of rationalized rules. The aspect that is to be dealt with in this paper would be on the assignment of responsibilities when differences are inevitable. The context of North East India would be specified wherever appropriate.

 

 

1. AN INTRODUCTION TO DIFFERENCES AND RECONCILIATION:

 

There are differences in the individual characteristics within a group which can be made up of several individuals who are all alike in many respects. This is probably the most generalized statement from which we have to derive consolation for specific instances of adjudication on discriminations. And, most satisfactory reconciliation would be possible only when it can all be traced to the biological similarities and differences which make people recognize and distinguish each other. Similarities can be categorized as the average expectations. Differences can be those characteristics requiring special provisions to individuals so as to enable them to respond with average contributions and consumptions. Or, in certain instances ‘differences’ can be an individuals’ self recognition of above- average capabilities by which eventually others in the group would benefit to improve the average levels of expectations. In other words individuals with better capabilities can set records for others to emulate and improve the average levels of the general standards. Thus a “talent” must be tapped for reaching higher levels of standards eventually. The gender differences stand out distinctly as something which is impossible to reconcile with on the one hand, but at the same time, by itself the differences are, complementarily, a necessity to make a wholesome. It is only such a ‘discontinuity’ in certain aspects which makes possible a unified existence without any confusing coalescences. These distinctions are the ones which provide a discrete vision on the roles of individuals in society; indicating that, the possible conflicts due to coalescence of similarities can be totally ruled out; and thus, lead the society to be set on a path of clear and unquestionable parallel assignments so that the activities accelerate the never-ending (perennial) purposeful unification for the wholesome from and, with, all the differences. Reproduction then can be simultaneously more hands to help and many more to consume the available bounties. There would be no fall in demands for consuming what the hands produce. It is this balance that must be appreciated to dispense justice without the differences resulting in unbalanced growth.

 

2. CERTAIN EXCERPTS AND COMMENTS:

 

The following are the excerpts from the “background” provided by the NEICSSR in the invitation to members to participate in this National Seminar on “The Issues of Female Emancipation, Education & Social Development in the Context of North East India”. Following the quoted excerpt, a comment of this author is added to point out the variations in the interpretations possible when the text is read and how it can contribute to aggravation of the situation while trying to seek solutions to mitigate the stated disharmony in the society. This could be a revealing enumeration to be aware that while trying to be informed about difficulties inflicting the society, the members of the society may get distracted over what has been stated as a formulated problem while trying to find solutions.

 

             

 

 

                On page-1/4 Para-1

 

Q: “But by and large they (females) are neglected lot and suffer in traditional society a lower status”

 

C: This should only mean that the traditional way of living has resulted in the relegation of the role of women in society.

 

 

 

Q: “This has contributed to low female literacy rates, early marriage, high fertility, high infant mortality, high maternal mortality and declining sex-ratio”

 

C: Out of the several items listed above “early marriage” is what can be described as traditional practice, the way of living and not a contribution of negligence from any quarters of the society.  Since the traditional practices are accepted by all sections of society by convention, it is only necessary to find out how to modernize by shedding conventions which are inconvenient. By “high fertility” in the above context, it has been implied that there are more children born in families than what is within the limits of health and ability to economically support large families. In one sense “fertility” is a positive a characteristic and this cannot be included in any derogatory sense. But, it must definitely be pointed out that the “fertility” must be resulting only in planned reproduction and should not result in unwanted undesirable “pregnancies”. This clarification is not available in the above one sentence of quickly sweeping in two lines. “High infant mortality” alluded to is the inevitable consequence of the ways of living pointed out in this comment above if one does not at this stage “feticides” inflicted without health-sanctions. These practices can only result in further setbacks and it is not a contribution by any other purposeful efforts. “Feticides” are referred to in the “background” text only later after the above quoted sentence. The sex-determination tests and related acts are a much more recent developments than  the occurrences of the consequences due to the  traditional ways of living & practices. Thus stating the high fertility and high infant mortality in one breathe along with other factors does not seem to put things in the right perspective.

 

On page 1/4 Para-2

 

Q: “Sex ratio is fairly good indicator of female status in society. Low sex ratio is synonym of lower status of women”

 

C: What is implicit in the above statement is that the sex-ratio is maneuverable and is being manipulated unethically. Why this comment is justifiable is because, as it was pointed out in the preceding comment , the capability to test for the sex before the birth of a child has been acquired more recently. It has been always a fact that sex determination before the birth of the child is not unequivocal and hence not under the control of even educated parents. Thus this uncontrollable factor could have been  unfavorable for the females without anyone’s intentions. Hence implying this as if it is a consequence of purposeful interference could make the situation vulnerable to the extent of implicating innocent public.

 

On page-2/4 Para-4 Regarding WORLD BANK STUDY on “Gender & Poverty”

 

Q: “Female labor force participation and their relative contribution to total family income are higher in households with lower economic status. The poorer the family, the more it depends on the earnings of its female members”

 

C: That there is a compulsion on the women folk to contribute to family income is itself not a healthy trend. Given the current status of women as relegated due to traditional ways of living, the purposeful empowerment should first  and foremost encourage  women to participate in social activities in which ever way they want rather than only under the compulsion of contributing to family income. From the home ground they should feel at ease to share the platforms at any gathering irrespective of whether it contributes to earning to the family or not. This broadens the outlook of all  the members of the society on the role of women and not simply an encouragement to the females. Traditionally the males should strive earn enough for the family providing also for the progressive activity of their female counterparts at home and not to look for remunerative activities to be shouldered by the females. When this concession is given to the females in the society and restrictions relaxed, it is even more necessary to take care that this does not become counter productive because the females start taking undue advantage of this concession and lenience to spend their valuable time unmindful of the resulting lack of attention at home front which is entirely the jurisdiction of women. Such a trend of women’s emancipation with its awful consequences is not unknown. But in a society where the bondages of traditional obligations are encroaching upon the minimum individual freedom on majority of the females and without ever being realized by them, there is probably much less to be concerned about such retrograde trends. And, why should women folk is brought under the physical labor force and further try to dispense equality of opportunities to ensure more women come under the physical labor force? The kind of activity that women should be encouraged to participate must be such an opportunity to appeal more to their intelligence than their physical stamina. Their rightful place to show their might physically should be at home and not get confined on to home on the basis of the elation on the merit monopoly , but try to be present at public places as well but much less for the opportunities on physical labor. This calls for to question the wisdom of such a measure as quoted below:

Q: “World bank advocated for the creation of employment opportunities for poor women and to increase their productivity in the primary sector”

 

Obviously, with due respect that it is the recommendation of World Bank, it remains for us to find out where exactly the quotation is out of context; that, it lends itself for such a criticism as above.

 

As stated in this “background” domestic violence against women is a matter of grave concern. Hence rightfully, the female should dominate the home ground even by improving their physical might, instead of putting their stamina at stake as a physical labor force to earn an income. The members in the society would be well advised to take measures to this end whenever there is an imbalance and injustice which might call for a section of the men folk trying to intervene at the affairs of other men folk while they insist unjustifiably favors from their women folk. This requires tact if it does not have to result in clashes among males over not letting female to predominate.

 

 

Without trying to be exhaustive about providing explanations to the circulated text of background information, it is hereby pointed out that just trying to annotate upon the text of information circulated itself seems to be making up a contributory article. In this event it would be probably bring out more appreciation among the participants of such a seminar if a set of notes also is circulated with it. This happens to be such a theme that it is subject to different levels of interpretations since much less is within the grip to solve the problem than the appeal it has at a variety of levels ranging from highly emotional to discretely rational and people in general shy away from exhibiting knowledge of biological differences and try to make it all a matter of discrimination of one section by the other section in a society of members of equal standing.

 

 

3. FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS AND THE SOCIETAL CONSTRAINTS:

 

The traditional family set up is well established. In this set up conventionally (because of the conveniences) female takeover the responsibility of running the household affairs staying at home while the male go out to eek out the materials to support the living and to afford the maintenance of a house for the members of the family. Probably, it would be too much of an excursion than necessary now to look into the advantages and disadvantages of such a practice, but the present shackles in which women find themselves now is allegedly attributable to such implicit ways of allocating responsibility to females. In all the suggestions for modernizing the family set up there is no demand ever to reverse the role of the male and female, but the calls have been only, to the possible extent, liberate the women from a “house arrest”  into which the eventualities put the women if a retrospection on their status does not forth come.  No one probably finds any better alternative to this fact: that, the women are endowed with the biological dispensation to bear children and hence, naturally, it makes women also to care, nurture and rear the babies to grow to be healthy adults. Then, what is the reason for the frustration of the disgruntled women which no one finds as something unjustifiable ? The reason is, with the passage of time, there is a change to the better on all fronts and in all matters that pertains to the conventional women’s role in family as well. These advances set the trends for change to realize whatever had been aspired for but with much greater ease and better finish. Certain things which were undreamt of in earlier days become, at a much faster rate, a matter of fact to be taken for granted. But poor people in general and the unprivileged section in the society in particular do not have the means and motivation to acquire the benefits of progress: for all this matter such people might have been contributing the labor for the produce as a part of the machinery of production without comprehending where finally their labor brings out the results and how. The women’s status is a special case of this because of the unquestionable biological distinction. This becomes the constraints socially to make possible a homogeneous growth with conveniently graduated levels to step up efforts with ease and poise. But, at any rate to find females contributing to physical labor to earn for the family and trying to give them more opportunities as daily wage earner at places where hard physical labor is required is a retrograde step. There must always be efforts to improve their skills at cottage enterprises and vocational jobs with duly providing for maternity confinement periods and thus distinctly developing  packages suitable only for women distinctly without any possibilities for competition from men. Thus in one sense the the traditional ways of sanctifying women’s status must be modernized without unduly criticizing such traditional attitude to women. The women also must modernize their role by making the fullest use of the understanding possible currently on the biological significances of the characteristics of women and that of men. Which means, the differences when they are present inevitably, it is necessary to find “equality values for the differences” . Women’s ability to bear children is an invaluable asset to humans and would it be worth the while to spend the time on finding ways of making men acquire this child-bearing ability because it is an invaluable asset? Can it be argued that if it becomes possible for men also to acquire this capability the it could be reducing the burden on women? While at the spur of the moment, it may inspire people as a worthy cause to spend time on if one is not joking about it, in due course it would be realized that it is an effort to smear out in whatever way one can the distinction between men and women. It at this stage discretion must take its course to advice people to respect and regard the differences as they are and try to make the better use of what is available instead of losing what ever little one has by spending in vain. To make this applicable to all, a set of rule would be the result as a social consequence or a code of conduct. This comprehension of the fact is what is expected to be learnt: that the social conduct rules are essentially to keep intact what is convenient for running family congenially and that it is the demands at the family front for a better freedom of movement for the women folk which results in the upheavals at social levels. All the time this reference back and forth from the smaller unit to the larger group and vice versa is the exercise that is necessary to resolve conflicts. How much the law makers and the rulers let the common people become aware of such considerations which they may have while formulating conducts and codes, is what makes the initiatives a success or a fiasco. Trying to find solution temporarily when it becomes intolerable would not bring in lasting solution. That the necessity to become modern in the outlook on traditional matters comes about by improving the literacy, educational standards and communication techniques. The current day agenda at the meetings to ameliorate situations on women status obviously are set with the overtones of the fundamentals as sated in the few lines before. It is with this awareness only any of the complications that arise can become a well formulated problem to seek solutions and, systematic rational approach would be possible.

 

 

4. REINFORCEMENT MEASURES TO RESTRAIN DETERIORATION ON A PROGRESSIVE PATH

 

The conclusions from the foregoing discussion in Section-3 were that the traditional practices must be accounted for in terms of the attitudes formed among people because of these practices. And, these attitudes must undergo a modernization as the people experience the conveniences of technological inventions and scientific discoveries. With special reference to the gender differences, as it was pointed out it is the role in the reproductive process and the entailing responsibilities which make the woman distinct from men in-exchangeable. To what extent can the common people take the cue from the advantages of Science and Technology to modernize their outlook; and, reinterpret the traditional ways? Can people uphold the purpose and necessity for any given traditional practice as due to the limitations of techniques and availability of information; and, in the changed circumstances adapt the newer techniques with the confidence that it would only reinforce the traditional values and would not undermine the credit which is due to the ancestors who devised such prescribed methods? On the other hand, can people argue about any particular traditional way as something which would stand the test of time and it would not be in any way possible to simplify the practice or give up the practice for the sake of the comforts which the newer methods can promise? Both ways of appreciating tradition require education of not simply literacy level. Both men and women must get educated about not only their own role as it was mostly in the tradition bound society, but must become changed in their outlook to ask questions about the other gender to know the biological differences and how a woman is superior for certain responsibilities than men and vice versa. Then a frank exchange of views would lead to broader outlook and probably what was traditionally only women’s jurisdiction can become a topic of articulation in public only to justify why the practice was prevailing and how the practice is beset with retrograde fallouts as time passes. Then the necessary reinforcement would be gained by the confidence of the knowledge available currently and discrimination of one gender can be selectively replaced by the equality value for the differences in gender. Such a transformation is what is aspired for and this does not come about by simply enumerating the incidences of “atrocities” or the criticisms on the “attitudes of oppression”. Simply gathering information also would not suffice to achieve this transformation but a change in the way information is exchanged among people and processed for assessing prevailing practices. This means effective improvement in the quality of communication. Obviously, people are aware the turn of talks and consequent incidences when gender differences are talked about by either of the genders invariably while referring to the gender features of the other gender than ones own. This requires a novel method of implementing code of conducts among the members of the society and to safe guard the interests of the youth from adults, and making the elders realize the gender inequalities as essential differences which bring about a distribution of duties for a humane environment and congenial living. 

 

5. Conclusions and Specifications of the Cases of North East India

 

As it had been concluded in the previous section communication skills to convey the facts, failures and frustrations, require a fortitude that can be acquired by assiduous learning which is usually termed as the lack of education. Even though it is not far from the truth, the education that can be imparted by institutions would take a long time to bring in effects. What is required in this context is an association of qualified personnel at the site where the incidence of female backwardness is more and prevalent to the levels of being described as atrocities on women. This qualification of an individual is much more than what the certified qualifications can speak about and it is much more difficult find people who can articulate about other’s difficulties with such a concern which ensures that their own short comings do not become later on hindrances to the progress in community. It is necessary to have such volunteers but they should not be employed just for this purpose of being present as escorts to women but these volunteers must be drawn from places where they are employed for their professional competence and specially chosen for their additional temperamental capabilities to attend to on site humane requirements related to their professional matters. If necessary those capable individuals might be given additional coaching by awareness promotion and brought in as casually as consultants.  This kind of selection and promotion of people require altogether a different process than what the institutional methods can stand for. But, the capable people must be drawn mainly from such individuals who have come through reputed institutions which certify for their merit professionally. Such a combination of formal institutional achievement with the capabilities to cope up with informal assignments would not be available just for the asking. Such talents must be searched out and adequately tapped for the benefit of the human welfare.

In regions where there is not even a language to mention which is  as well developed and people are mostly depending on oral communications since written materials to be produced require a standardized scripts which may not be available. While this is a draw back quick methods take their places in giving all the technical jargons an easy exposure to the public. The result would be all the technical words and specifications would be glibly spelt by people who do not have any knowledge of what these words stand for specifications of technical units and other common places. Just because people may not be aware of common place meanings of words but are found to be easily acquiring access to technical outputs, their words are carrying the conviction of experts among the “black-box” users so much so the experts find themselves in pitiable state unable to ameliorate the appalling state of affairs. This is precisely how women become the “black-boxes” to be availed without any concern for what e their needs and necessities are for maintenance. It is no exaggeration to state that the very technical advances made for lightening women’s responsibilities become their shackles for want of better managerial qualifications. This comes under the even-more-wide concern of effective resource management. 

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