Steps towards a gender-sensitive and gender-balanced society is something that we choose not to talk about. Living in a patriarchal society for hundreds of years has left an imprint on the minds of the people and it’s considered against societal norms to challenge this patriarchy.Voices raised against patriarchy have been constantly ignored through the years, and maybe one way or the other people fear that equality may change too much. During an event at a prestigious institution in Lahore, I came across a thought provoking question on a large screen. “If you could change one gender rule, what would it be?” it read. And the responses alongside the question lay on a broad spectrum. Some people were not willing to accept that there is any gender discrimination in our society and said that everyone is being treated equally, no matter what their gender is. However, people who disagreed with this notion were greater in number.A woman, who has been teaching in a college, responded that society has set certain roles for women and it is not willing to let them step out of those roles. A woman has to stay at home, cook for the family and take care of the household chores. However, the job of a homemaker is still one that women are forced to take up, even if they have fulltime jobs. She left me with a question: why can’t a man cook and look after the kids when the woman is out there working? A woman has to stay at home, cook for the family, and take care of household chores. However, the job of a homemaker is still one that women are forced to take up, even if they have fulltime jobsWe have a lot of examples around us if we choose to look at the matter from this perspective. In a gender-balanced society, a man has as many duties as a woman does. And it does not matter if both the husband and wife belong to the working class, it should be fine for men to cook and take care of the kids. Then, why are such people looked down upon in our society?People who do not follow a specific type of family system are not seen as normal in our part of the world. This definition of ‘normal’ is something we have created for ourselves and has thus giving birth to a society where a person is not given equal rights on the basis of their gender. Over time, we ourselves, have created this barrier, which we are now unable to cross. Generations have taken to create this society and it’s only normal that people are now afraid of change — especially the change that a gender-balanced scenario may bring. Such changes can seem easy on paper, but in reality take decades to implement. However, it has to start somewhere, and someone has to put these things into discussion.For now, it may look like a long shot and just a dream where everyone is being treated equal and there is no discrimination on the basis of gender. And dreams don’t come easy. A lot of effort, many sacrifices, and many compromises are needed to make this dream to come true. We as a society can do it, we just need to create awareness about the issue and teach people how to think instead of teaching them what to think.We are a nation of survivors. From extreme earthquakes to wars, we have seen a lot and gone through it all together and if we can stand together in these hours of difficulty and need, why not stand together on all fronts and thus contribute towards a better society where everyone has the right to live their own choices!The writer is a critical thinker and activist focused on engaging, growing, and inspiring communities across PakistanPublished in Daily Times, June 20th 2018.