Sir — The ‘cricket legend’, Sunil Gavaskar, is facing flak for making sexist comments against the actress Anushka Sharma, who is married to the cricketer, Virat Kohli. Gavaskar has defended himself by saying that he merely mentioned Sharma and did not say anything about her. But the fact that he decided to name a cricketer’s wife while commenting on his performance is indicative of an everyday misogyny that few of us even notice. Could not Gavaskar have said that lack of practise owing to the lockdown had affected Kohli’s skills and left it at that? Why was it necessary to drag Sharma into the issue? Gavaskar should introspect on this.
Sir — The report, “Pandemic lesson of self-reliance for marginalised women” (Sept 26), was heartening. It took a pandemic to drive home the fact that women can be equal financial contributors in a family. At a time when male members of the family lost their jobs or had their earnings reduced, women took up vocational courses so that they could help run the household. The trusts which are running vocational courses on tailoring, handicraft, cooking and so on must be lauded for their effort to make women from marginalized communities more self-reliant. Working will not only generate an income but also help women become more confident and contribute to their self-worth.
Sir — While it is encouraging that women from the marginalized community are getting a chance to break age-old barriers and step out to earn a living, there are some harsh questions that need to be asked in this context. First, are the women who are now stepping out of the house — or even working from home — being helped out in their traditional duties? The plight of millions of working women not just in India but also abroad is that they have to balance work and home at the cost of their own health and mental well-being. Are the men who lost their jobs lending a helping hand with household chores? This is unlikely. More important, do women have a say over how the money they are earning will be spent? Women having a say in household spending is shown to have a significant effect on an important factor like child malnutrition and stunting.
Another issue that must be considered is whether the glass ceiling has been lifted only momentarily. During World War II, women and others from the minority communities suddenly found that the wall that kept them away from opportunities was lifted and they were allowed to work. But after the War, the wall came crashing down again. This is just one instance of how women’s labour — both inside and outside the house — is taken for granted. It is expected that they will do whatever it takes, be it slaving away in the kitchen or going out to earn the daily bread, to keep the house running. One hopes that history does not repeat itself with the women mentioned in the report.
Sir — The fifth edition of the United Nations' Global Biodiversity Outlook and the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report 2020 highlight the serious damage done to planet earth. The UN report has pointed out that the world has failed to achieve the targets set in the historic meet at Aichi, Japan in 2010. The Aichi targets included a number of specific measures, like safeguarding ecosystems, addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss and so on. No country can claim credit for satisfactory performance on any of these criteria. Instead, every day, more and more species of flora and fauna are disappearing from the earth. The UN had already warned that one million species might disappear within the next few decades. The planet has already seen five big extinctions, the sixth may be happening right now; this time, though, the extinction is driven by human greed. Population explosion, destruction of forests, intensive agriculture, unrestrained industrial activity, expansion of modern facilities and amenities for luxury and overconsumption are the main contributors to the loss of biodiversity; awareness about the seriousness of the situation is yet to sink in for humans.