In India, it is popularly said that a woman is either someone’s daughter, sister, wife, or mother, indicating the various stages of her life. Besides, it also points at the absence of female agency – in fact, it is an idea that is often considered foreign and ‘imported’, diluting its importance in leading a healthy life.
Performing the normative gender roles defined by the society is one of the key hurdles in women’s education in India. In most of the families, especially in north India, sons are preferred over daughters. While female foeticide and infanticide may have reduced, daughters face discrimination in availing the facilities that facilitate a better life.
If they reach school as kids, adolescent females are the first to drop out. According to statistics, around 63.5 percent female students quit school during adolescence.
One of the reasons for this whopping number is lack of facilities in schools, especially toilets, giving rise to privacy concerns. Concern over the safety of girls, largely attributed to the idea of vestal honour as the mainstay of family honour, goes hand in hand. Incidents of eve-teasing or other forms of harassments on the way to or from the school are not rare in India.
Last year, a video surfaced on the social media showing two girls in Uttar Pradesh harassed by men with no help in sight. Moreover, conservative and orthodox families fear an amorous pre-marriage relationship of the girl as well as a potential lack of a suitable match for a qualified girl, triggering the fact that women’s education in India still lacks the steam.
In most of the cases, the importance of higher education in a woman’s life is no more than that of disposables. A good match always scores more than a good school or scholarship. Several Indian families, till date, prefer spending on their daughter’s marriage than their education, especially higher or specialized education. The participation of women in vocational or technical education is still not encouraging.