Marriage as goal: As soon as a woman completes her education, or let me say the minimum education because education cannot really have a limit, the next best goal set for her by the patriarchal society is marriage.
She is expected to wrap up her dreams, clothes and choices in a suitcase and be ready for her bidaai. Education is only seen as a means to meet the end of marriage in a woman’s life. But is this a fair deal? Is it right to draw a limit to woman’s education? Is it right to impose marriage as a goal post in a woman’s life? Is marriage not a choice that only a woman should make not social norms? What about her education and ">financial empowerment? Are they not a necessary part of her life as a woman?
Education is still a privilege for women
In our society, education is still a privilege for a woman. You can still find families who are reluctant to spend money on their daughters’ education. They would rather spend it on the son’s education who is equal to security or save it for the daughter’s dowry. And even if parents do educate their daughters, the education comes with a limit. The limit that is drawn across the time when she nears her marriageable age. The limit that defines the gendered idea that women should not be over-educated. The limit where a daughter’s objectification as paraya dhan overshadows her empowerment and freedom.
Why is financial independence not a goal in women's life?
It is not shocking then that the marriage market is now hunting for brides who are graduate but gharelu. Brides who educated but are not allowed to use it for their financial independence. Whether parents’ reluctance in over-educating their daughters is a cause or effect of the rise in the demand of gharelu brides is a hen first or egg dilemma. But what we need to question is that why should the education of a woman be limited by her marriageability? Why should marriage be a goal post in a woman’s life? Would it not be better if higher education, job and promotion be the goalposts for a woman to achieve? Or do we assume that financial independence is not a woman’s need? Or that a woman should always be dependent on her male counterparts for her financial needs?
Why is marriage enforcement or necessity?
The major problem behind these gendered assumptions is the idea of the necessity of marriage in a woman’s life. In our society, it wouldn’t matter much if a woman is educated or not. But if a woman isn’t married, it raises questions on her legitimacy, character, reputation and whatnot. No one asks how much a woman has achieved in life but whether she is married or not is a question that rarely anyone misses out on. If she is married, then she has settled, happy and tick marked a goal post. But if she isn’t or chose to be single, her life is perceived in terms of lack, loneliness or sadness. Marriage is seen as the only major achievement in a woman’s life and if she “fails” to achieve it, she is automatically seen as a failure.
Marriage is an option, independence a necessity. Period.
Just how biased a mindset has to be to assume that education and job is only a man’s goal post and not a woman’s? To assume that financial independence, happiness and power aren't a woman’s right? It is high time now that we broaden our definitions of womanhood. Marriage should not be enforced on a woman as a goal post or the only achievement in a woman’s life. To marry or not is a choice that a woman should be free to make and her marriage should not be the only determinant of her success or failure in life. Rather, it is about time now to make education and financial independence the necessary goalposts for women. Because a companionship is an option but independence is a necessity. Which one should be prioritised?
Views expressed are author's own