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Debate on women’s rights and freedom in the Bangla blogosphere

Categories: South Asia, Bangladesh, Citizen Media, Women & Gender, Youth

What do the terms ‘women’s rights’ or ‘women’s liberation’ really stand for in today's context? This age-old debate has again raised its head in the Bangla [1] blogosphere.

It all started when Nasima [2] expressed her discontent about how, even today, Bengali girls (including those who are University graduates) are unable to take decisions pertaining to their future. According to her, most families are still operating under belief that a girl should marry a well-to-do man of her family’s choice and settle down to be a housewife. Though she admits that some broad-minded families are taking their daughters’ desires and aspirations regarding career, life-partner into consideration, she says they are the exception rather than the rule. According to her, true liberation or freedom will see light of day only when a woman will have the full right to develop her full potential as a human being, make her own decisions and live by them.

Reacting to her post, Trivuz [3] upheld the importance of the family over individual decision-making. He stated that most of the time ‘family knew best’ and their decisions were in the best interests of the youngster on whose behalf the decisions were made. Trivuz went on to discuss the different roles of men and women as defined by society; his view was that each role is different and one is in no way less respectable and important than the other. So a woman should not see her role as a mother and homemaker in poor light and seek to work merely to raise her self-esteem. According to him, this is a classic case of the grass being greener on the other side. Lastly he summed up his views by saying that since men are physically stronger (‘fit’) than women, they are more suited to shouldering a career while women are more suited for a nurturing role.

This post raised a lot of debate among bloggers. Responding to his views, Astomeye [4] pointed out that for a family unit to function smoothly and successfully it is essential that both men and women abandon attitudes of competition, control, one-upmanship’ and cooperate with each other to the fullest extent possible. She feels that today, women are taking on more than their fair share of work if they opt for a career since her job becomes an added responsibility to her already full plate of home management. Thus, her demand is ‘let the woman decide’ – i.e. neither should she be forced to stay at home nor should she be forced to work. If home management and childcare is her primary responsibility, let her have the freedom to choose, whether or not she can also juggle a career alongside. Astomeye also put forth some demands to the society to ease the load of the working-woman, such as: a) flexible work schedule so that she can take time off for her family duties without being penalized for it b) equality in pay scales and breaking of the invisible ‘glass ceiling’, so that women can get the recognition and status according to their eligibility without bias. c) return of the extended family with live-in grandparents, so that children can get adequate care, supervision, nurturing and are not subject to loneliness and neglect.

That’s all for today from the world of Bangla. Until next time, take care and happy blogging!