How a biological process and societal values affect girl's education in India
By: Naya Dukkipati
"A period should end a sentence. Not a girl's education!"Melissa Berton
Women’s access to education in low income communities, especially in India, is an ongoing struggle. It is a culture steeped in traditionalism where Indian women’s status is considered less than men's. An example of this is “the stigma surrounding menstruation and lack of access to proper sanitation [which]directly inhibit[s] young women from pursuing an education” (Markle 2017). Instead of pads, they use rags to deal with their menstruation. This ineffective substitute makes it difficult for girls to feel comfortable, preventing them from participating in activities, and making it hard to be successful in school. According to Time magazine, 23% of girls in India are dropping out of school because of the inability to resolve this issue.
Besides improper menstrual hygiene, another main problem is lack of social consciousness around women’s education. Today's society uses the ideas of masculinity and femininity as a guide in schooling. For example, boys are made to believe they need a stable, well paying job, in order to provide for themselves and their families. Girls, to the contrary, are expected to confine their ambitions to being a homemaker. These values translate into the education system in India, where they value boy’s education over girl’s. Women are born into oppression because of society’s views on what a woman should be and do.
My mom had an encounter with this gender bias when she was 19. At this time, her parents had died in a car accident, and she had to live with her grandparents and care for her brother. They had convinced her that she would have difficulty getting married if she continued to attend college. It was her duty as the older sister to remain in the small village and help teach her brother French, despite his schizophrenia. She was made to believe that her goals were unimportant by comparison, and to disagree with her grandparents was an act of being selfish and defiant.
Overall, women's education is a problem from the beliefs at home and society, and needs to be addressed and resolved. Women will not have equal access to education until they break down the cultural practices of gender.
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