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Is It Better to Be a Man?

Registered Date December 02, 2016 Read 280
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Nguyen Thi Hong Ha, Scranton Scholar of Hue University College of Foreign Languages in Vietnam

I was born to be a female. During the time of growing up, I have witnessed various cases of disparities between men and women, and I often ask myself: “What eventually are the women’s rights?” To my mind, it should be wrapped up in four words: “to be treated equally”. Women’s rights are not something big; it is simply the society’s recognition and respect for women - anything regarding women and from women. It can be the respect for females’ physical and emotional states, the proper recognition of their achievements, or the support for women in any position in the family and society.

However, in Vietnam, where I live and other Asian countries affected by Confucian, the things called “women’s rights” and “gender equality” are still far from reality. The story I am about to tell below will reveal how that reality looks like.


Gender stereotype is still overwhelming in almost all families in our community. I was born in a nuclear family, including my parents, my older brother and I. My father always thought that only a boy in a family would live with his parents for the whole life, and a girl would eventually be the daughter of other people because sooner or later she would get married and leave out. Therefore, my brother always received much love and care from my parents. At that time, I wondered: “IS IT BETTER TO BE A MAN?”


When I grew up and was mature enough, I realized that I should do something to change my position in my family and I do not accept to hide under the shadow of my brother anymore, so I determined to study very well in the school. As knowledge is power, I believe that the voice of a woman anywhere in the family and society will be very valuable if she is educated. In 2014, I received a fully-funded scholarship, namely Erasmus Mundus to study in Sweden as an exchange student and two years later I was a participant of the Scranton Scholar Leadership Program in South Korea. For what I have successfully performed, my parents gradually changed their viewpoint that not only boys bring happiness to the family, but also girls are the people they can take pride in.


It seems that I have done a good deed, but it is not. Everything is just a first step for a challenging journey ahead. Our society is full of gender imbalance, and a discrimination-free work environment is something female workers still long for. After graduation, I applied for some companies. However, most job announcements have this chunk of words in bold and brackets: “priority for men”. However, it is not all. In the interview, the recruiters keep asking me private questions. “Do you have a boyfriend, when will you get married, what is your plan after you settle down, and will you have babies right after that?”. At that moment, I wonder whether I would be asked such questions if I were a guy. And once again, I ask myself: “IS IT BETTER TO BE A MAN?” I totally understand that the maternity leave strongly affects the benefit of companies. Nevertheless, while women quit job, stay and home, endure the painfulness of giving birth and hardship of children upbringing, where those companies put the position of males in a family. If they had known this, they wouldn’t have asked women candidates such questions.


I am not the only one story. There are countless of others. Physical and sexual violence, emotional and economic abuse, child marriage... Thousands of unfairness still exist in the world we are living. Women have the right to live for themselves, and it is the basic human right. For that reason, it women ourselves would be the people who break the cycle of violence and gender gap. To make that goal achievable, first and foremost, women have to recognize the importance of themselves and believe in their capabilities. Only when our belief is consolidated will we have motivation to inspire others, and the great values deserve to be made it pervasive.


Fortunately, there are many activities and campaigns that have been initiated recently to support the women’s rights. For instance, the Heforshe campaign of UN Women, which calls for the participation of men and boys to take action against the inequality faced by women and girls. Or the most recently, the project “Who wash dishes today” arranged by Y-Change organization in Vietnam to encourage men to share the housework with women in families. Beyonce, in her essay about gender quality also saying that: 


     Humanity requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another. So why are we viewed as less than equal? These old attitudes are drilled into us from the very beginning. We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.


With such efforts of the whole society to promote the women’s rights, we can totally believe in a bright future where gender stereotype will surely disappear. Our responsibility is STAND UP, SPEAK OUT, JOIN HANDS, TAKE ACTION, FIGHT FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS and then IT WOULD BE BETTER TO BE A WOMAN.