A teacher in India is confronting the Indian government over a controversial statement made in a grade 10 social science textbook.
Published by Chhattisgarh Board of Secondary Education, there is a chapter in the course book that lists “working women” as one of the causes of increased unemployment in India.
As utterly outrageous as this is, sexist content in a South Asian textbook isn’t really shocking since it’s just one small example of how gender discrimination remains strongly prevalent in the region.
Despite the advancements made by Indian women in all fields of study, their society’s patriarchal structure still sees them as subordinates to men. In fact, ancient rituals, such as child marriages, widow immolation, dowry murders, rape or female feticide, all meant to suppress women, are widely practiced in various, mostly rural, parts of India.
Even as more Indian women are graduating, earning professional and technical degrees as well as training for complex jobs, the situation for working women overall remains bleak.
“…As India’s economy grew at an average of 7 percent between 2004 and 2011, its female labor force participation fell by seven percentage points, to 24 percent from 31 percent,” The New York Times reported .
Little wonder, then, that the International Labor Organization in 2013 ranked India 11th from the bottom in female labor force participation.
Even more appalling than a sexist remark being cited in a high school textbook is the fact that Sanjay Ojha, director of state council for educational research and training, says removing the controversial content “is a matter of debate.”
“It was a writer's view out of his experience,” Times of India reported. “Now, it is the teacher's job how they explain things to the students and ask the students for their view whether they agreed to it or not".
While an image of Indian female scientists celebrating the success of their country's first mission ever to explore Mars goes viral, the news of a Chhattisgarh textbook – ridiculously – blaming working women for the lack of jobs indicates how women in India still have a long way to go in spite of making considerable strides in education and their careers.