NCERT Class 7 Civics Women Change the World

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Women Change the World

In the previous chapter, we saw how women’s work in the home is not recognised as work. We also read how doing household work and taking care of family members is a full time job and there are no specific hours at which it begins or ends. In this chapter, we will look at work outside the home, and understand how some occupations are seen to be more suitable for men than for women. We will also learn about how women struggle for equality. Getting an education was, and still is, one way in which new opportunities were created for women. This chapter will also briefly trace the different types of efforts made by the women’s movement to challenge discrimination in more recent years.

Fewer opportunities and rigid expectations A lot of the children in Rosie Ma’am’s class drew women as nurses and men as army officers. The reason they did this is because they feel that outside the home too, women are good at only certain jobs. For example, many people believe that women make better nurses because they are more patient and gentle. This is linked to women’s roles within the family. Similarly, it is believed that science requires a technical mind and girls and women are not capable of dealing with technical things.

Because so many people believe in these stereotypes, many girls do not get the same support that boys do to study and train to become doctors and engineers. In most families, once girls finish school, they are encouraged by their families to see marriage as their main aim in life.

It is important to understand that we live in a society in which all children face pressures from the world around them. Sometimes, these come in the form of demands from adults. At other times, they can just be because of unfair teasing by our own friends. Boys are pressurised to think about getting a job that will pay a good salary. They are also teased and bullied if they do not behave like other boys. You may remember that in your Class VI book you read about how boys at an early age are encouraged not to cry in front of others.

Learning for change

Going to school is an extremely important part of your life. As more and more children enter school  every year, we begin to think that it is normal for allchildren to go to school. Today, it is difficult for us to imagine that school and learning could be seen as “out of bounds” or not appropriate for some children. But in the past, the skill of reading and writing was known to only a few. Most children learnt the work their families or elders did. For girls, the situation was worse. In communities that taught sons to read and write, daughters were not allowed to learn the alphabet. Even in families where skills like pottery, weaving and craft were taught, the contribution of daughters and women was only seen as supportive. For example, in the pottery trade, women collected the mud and prepared the earth for the pots. But since they did not operate the wheel, they were not seen as potters.

EXERCISES

1. How do you think stereotypes, about what women can or cannot do, affect women’s right to equality?

2. List one reason why learning the alphabet was so important to women like Rashsundari Devi, Ramabai and Rokeya.

3. “Poor girls drop out of school because they are not interested in getting an education.” Re-read the last paragraph on page 62 and explain why this statement is not true.

4. Can you describe two methods of struggle that the women’s movement used to raise issues? If you had to organise a struggle against stereotypes, about what women can or cannot do, what method would you employ from the ones that you have read about? Why would you choose this particular method?


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