In this post we explore the gender ‘balance sheet’ – the preference that can be given to boys in some communities.
Our Chair of Trustees, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, was one of five girls born to immigrants of Pakistani origin. We share some quotes from her new book:
“As the tally of daughters increased it signalled, in a male-dominated, conservative society, that once again my parents had failed…The birth of Bushra, my youngest sister, was met with almost universal sympathy by visitors. The mood was sombre, more suited to the weeks following a bereavement…no congratulations, no celebrations, no ladies.” [p.xiv]
“In the community where I was born and raised, boys were assets and thus of value, girls were liabilities and thus a burden. Much of this thinking was based on cultural norms in South Asia, which valued a male child for the economic worth they would bring to the family as breadwinners, for their physical worth as protectors and defenders of family honour and property and for their social worth through succession. Boys in South Asia were contributors, girls were responsibilities; boys would add to the family resources, girls would be a drain on them; boys carried honour, girls brought shame.” [p.xiv]
This gender balance sheet isn’t unique to South Asian families. Nor is its damaging effect. This is why we do the work that we do. Like you, we believe change is possible. That’s why, as a Foundation, we mobilise our partners and funding to develop programmes which will increase gender equality. Our goal is to ‘rebalance’ the balance sheet. We’d love to hear your thoughts – connect with us via Twitter.
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