Brigham Young said, “You educate a man; You educate a man. You educate a woman; You educate a generation.”
Education has predominantly been a woman’s domain. Largely, women are by nature assertive, resilient, passionate, highly adaptable, courageous and show gratification all of which are attributes required for a dedicated teacher/educator.These maternal instincts of a woman and the need to make the school and the classroom a second home for the children, make women the obvious choice for this field, although we do have examples of male teachers who have shown admirable attributes as teachers albeit in a minority.
Traditionally, educating the girl child has been a great challenge in our country as it was not considered as important as educating a male child in the family. But things are changing and more and more girls are coming forward to get educated with the aim of being independent to ensure financial security which eventually gives them the confidence to face the world at their terms. Empowering women with education as Brigham Young says, ensures that these women are capable of bringing about changes in economic, social and cultural environment of their society.
While there is lot of focus and work done to bring about equality in the facilities that are generated for education to benefit everyone across the geographical spectrum of the country, what one needs to focus on is to bring about equity to quell the gender disparity, to provide opportunities and tailoring the system so that it fits everyone’s situation rather than emphasize on one-size-fits-all approach. This can answer many pertinent issues that are plaguing our society as regards opportunities for education of girls and women at large.
Joining the field of education as a teacher, administrator or any other related role in an educational institution becomes an understandable choice for every woman who is educated, because of the convenient timings, vacations etc., which many a times coincide with their children’s, making it a more opportune profession than one chosen by choice or passion. The nobility of the profession and the responses from the students ensures that many of them eventually commit themselves with dedication in their career.
In India, more often than not, a woman’s career is governed by the man in her life, be it father or husband. Although young girls today are breaking the shackles of the sheltered life provided by their father and venturing out into new and courageous enterprises to follow their passions, after marriage this becomes difficult and they
are forced to take up something in the place of work of their husband. There are very few examples of men making sacrifices to enable their wives to follow their passion.
My foray into education, was also more of a chance, the necessity occurring due to a lack of fluent English speakers for an English medium school in a remote place in India. The bigger and more selfish motive being the presence of my own child in the school whose exposure to the English medium in the real sense was more important to me. My career took many twists and turns from remote places to cities and finally across countries, which helped sow the seeds of becoming a full-fledged educator in me as my teaching methods were recognized as innovative practices far removed from the regular didactic approach and sometimes heralded as revolutionary, but were found to be a great success with students of all ages. My journey in the Middle East also continued unabated in spite of the gender restrictions of the society existing there, as the field of education was again completely dominated by women who were easily accepted by the society as natural educators.
Today, in our country, women have made big strides in many fields including education and are now in a position to dictate, change and set standards to meet the challenges of the world. Keeping in line with this year’s International Women’s day’s campaign theme, which is #BalanceforBetter, women today are ready to storm all bastions of society to keep up and work to build a gender-balanced world which includes boardrooms, governments, media coverage, employees, sports coverage … and so on.