International Women's Day: Beyond biases

Crusade against prevailing gender biases and stereotypes is held all throughout the year but Women’s Day allows us an opportunity to celebrate the same

International Womens Day: Beyond biases

March 8 each year presents us an opportunity to reflect on, and celebrate the strides made towards women empowerment globally. We collectively focus to progress in support of women's social, economic, cultural and political rights. Although this is best done all year round, it is good to have a day where the entire world comes together.

Is there truly any bias against women in today's era?

What bias? A common retort by most people when asked if women are still biased against. While it may not be noticeable to many of us, gender biases and stereotypes have been deeply ingrained into our lives. These impact almost all spheres, from our interactions to our working norms — influencing the way we make key decisions in practically every aspect of our life.

Stereotypes and biases

Both the words — 'bias' and 'stereotype' — are often used interchangeably but are slightly different.

The difference between bias and stereotype is that a bias is a personal preference, like or dislike, especially when the tendency interferes with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, or objective. A stereotype, on other hand, is a preconceived idea that attributes certain characteristics (in general) to all the members of a class or set. A gender stereotype is harmful when it limits women's and men's capacity to develop their personal abilities, pursue their professional careers and/or make choices about their lives. A new UN report has found almost 90 per cent of men and women hold some sort of bias against females.

Some common gender biases and stereotypes

Against young girls

⁕ Girls should wear pink and play with dolls.

⁕ Girls are well-behaved and shouldn't speak back.

⁕ Girls should be good looking and learn household chores.

⁕ Girls should play with dolls and boys should play with trucks.

At work

⁕ Globally, close to 50 per cent of men said they had more right to a job than women.

⁕ Women are often asked to prioritise their household responsibilities and not career.

⁕ Women are asked to pick safe jobs and career paths.

⁕ Women may not be given their due promotion, and many don't even ask for their dues.

In mental health

⁕ Doctors may diagnose more women with psychosomatic issues (issues where little or no physical explanation is found for a condition).

⁕ PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is often cited by partners and others as the reason for irritability or snappy behavior.

⁕ Postpartum issues are swept under the rug as it is considered natural for women.

⁕ Crying and complaining is associated more with women and considered odd for men.

How can we break the bias?

Start questioning: It all starts with a question. The ability to challenge the bias will begin when we identify our own bias and begin to recognise how it can be impacting women all around.

Educate the new generation: Let's take a moment to teach our boys "girly things and chores" and our girls "manly things". Drop the color coding and raise a generation of equally bred children.

Equality over anything: Gender equality is for men as well. Not just women. By bringing forth men's issues and not treating them as oppressors always, we create a world of equals.

Women should have each other's back more: Women can uplift other women. This can be done in all spheres and by avoiding spreading cultural biases like – women must raise kids only, and that women are supposed to be better cooks at home.

Hire: Hire more women staff at work. Believe in incentive-based performances rather than gender-based.

True mixed sports: In the world of sports, many are debating about bringing together both genders to show competence over anything.

Women's Day: Celebrate days to bring about these causes. Although it can be done yearlong, ensure to celebrate the women in your life in small ways.

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