Do you remember doing a jigsaw puzzle? The essence of the puzzle is to put various pieces of the puzzle together to make a complete whole. Each piece had its own place in the puzzle. Remember how frustrating it was if we lost even a single piece? The whole puzzle would have been a waste.
Now imagine if all these pieces of the puzzle were exactly the same. The same size, shape and contour. Would you be able to make that puzzle? Would it ever be completed? It would be a complete failure! We would not know which part went where! The importance of each piece lies in its difference from the other.
A food for thought. If we can not complete a puzzle without differences how would we complete a society without them? Imagine a society of sameness, everything similar to each other. Would it function.
Let us consider the basic difference. The difference of gender. Our society has three genders man, woman and other. I have often heard people say that men and women are the same (unfortunately the propagators of equality forget the third gender). No, they are not! Each gender is different in its own way, biologically, psychologically and socially. Each gender had its own place in this society.
A lot of talk goes around equality of genders. How we should treat each gender equally. Definitely!! But what does it mean to treat someone equally? Does that mean that they are same?
Recently someone told me how women are superior to men and can do most things better than men. I disagree. Why should anybody be superior and inferior? Better or worse? Where is the competition? Why is there a competition?
Unfortunately for most of us gender equality is limited to a completion. It is more about competition between the genders rather than equality between genders. It is not a battle ground where one has to emerge a winner. It is not about defeating the other two genders.
To me equality does not mean proving anyone superior or inferior. It means treating everyone with respect and dignity despite (or rather because of ) the differences.
A lot of propaganda on social media is about respecting women. While that is an excellent thought, but why respect a person because of the gender. Why not teach our kids to respect everyone, humans, animals, plants, non living things everything irrespective of what they are.
Men, women and the transgender deserve to be treated equally and with respect. Not because of the gender but because they deserve it.
So again the basic question. What does treating with respect and dignity mean?
More often than not we live in the illusion that we treat people with respect because we do not misbehave with them. A young man told me that he respects women because he never eve teased or misbehaved with a women. Someone else told me that they never mistreated a trangender at the signal and always gave them money.
Now both the behaviours are praiseworthy, I feel respect goes beyond that. It is not about just not doing wrong but a little beyond that.
Let’s look at some common every day scenarios
 A woman drives a car to work everyday and gets a compliment ‘you drive very well for a woman’
 A man does not drive but his wife does . He gets made fun of for not knowing how to drive.
 A transgender working in an office instead of begging on streets faces whispers ‘doing well despite what she is’.
 A man gets praised for helping his wife in household work but a woman is not praised for doing the household work.
 An educated man is hardworking and intelligent but an educated woman has supportive husband and in-laws.
 Some boys whistle at a woman. Her protective brother abuses their ‘mother and sister’ who were nowhere near the scene.
 A compassionate man with a child is newsworthy, but a woman with a child is just doing her duty.
 A man who hits a woman is called ‘a eunuch’ but how many times have we heard of eunuchs committing a crime against a woman?
 Gay and lesbian jokes are every day lunch table conversations.
Sounds familiar? We do that everyday, don’t we? Why? Because we never consider them as disrespectful. We do not consider them as a part of our prejudice. No matter how much we deny we all are guilty of these kinds of prejudices and disrespect.
Respect and dignity are for a person for their work and behaviour. A man, woman or transgender deserves praise for a deed well done or an act of kindness and not because of their gender. A brave woman is not mardani (like a man), she is brave. A man looking after a baby is not maternal, he is loving and caring. A high achieving transgender is a successful person and deserves respect for that.
Someone had asked me if I wanted to do what a man could do? No I don’t want to do what a man can do. I want to do what a man can not do. Each gender is here to play a part in the bigger puzzle of the world. My importance in the world does not depend on proving someone else less.
Equality is about respecting differences. Equality is looking beyond these differences to see the person. Equality is to understand how important these differences are. Equality is to let these differences thrive because ultimately they will complete a beautiful picture.

Dr. Gauri Nadkarni Choudhary
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Dr. Gauri Nadkarni Choudhary

Working as a clinical psychologist since last 17 years. This blog is an attempt to raise awareness about the importance of mental health by combining the knowledge of psychology with day to day issues.

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