“Are you sure you want to go for it? Remember you are a girl.” said a concerned voice. “Thanks for reminding that to me again, but I am not only a girl I am a strong and independent woman who is confident enough to achieve her goal, moreover when we talk of gender equality, is there a need to put up this question?” she replied while sealing the envelope containing her application form to join the Indian Army.
Today women are standing shoulder to shoulder with men and there is hardly any field where women are not allowed to prove their mettle. Over the years, we have come across many headlines like ‘1st all women navy team gears up to embark on record journey around the world,’ ‘Indian Women’s Cricket team to reach the World Cup semifinals for the first time in the history of India’, ‘Wing commander Puja Thakur to be the first woman to lead the Guard of Honor for Barack Obama on the January 26, 2015 parade’ and many more unheard and many more yet to come set up a firm example that India is gradually moving towards Women Empowerment. Gone are the days when women were entirely dependent on man for fulfilling smallest of their needs.
Though this situation is not at 100% result but the situation is much better than the past and is getting better and better with each passing day.
A long struggle going back over a century has brought women the property rights, voting rights and equality in civil rights before the law in matters of marriage and employment. Many social evils like female infanticide, child marriage, purdah (veil) system, sati system, dowry system and state of permanent widowhood were either totally removed or checked to an appreciable extent after independence through legislative measures.
With gradual rise in the literacy rate in India, the thinking of the people is also improving, their thoughts are embracing gender equality. Girls now have the right to choose their career, their life partner and they have a say in family matters. They wear what they want to wear and speak up when the need arises, obviously basking in the new found glory of an egalitarian society.
Cutting the long story short she is no more an “Abla Naari” who was forced to stay within the four walls of the house and take care of her family, kids and household chores. But as said the situation has not improved 100%. There are still many girls who are forced to quit their studies, snub their dreams and get married. “What is the need to invest on girl’s education, when ultimately she has to get married make babies and do the household chores.” is what those uneducated orthodox people still think. Marital Rape (rape in marriage) is still not recognized as rape in India, women are being raped daily by their husbands. Sexual Abuse in office, on streets and even in their own houses is still a matter worth our probe. And if a woman wants to voice her opinion , her own family members stop her stating the cliche of “LOG KYA KAHENGE” i.e. “What will the society say.” And such unsafe feeling where people think of the society first and then of their own daughter is felt not only by the women in rural areas but also in educated families of the urban areas.
India has a long way to go to reach a state when women actually has equal freedom, right and in which India is no more called a patriarchal society. For it:
- Education is what every individual should focus on: education isn’t limited to gaining bookish knowledge, nor is it restricted to getting degrees, rather a person is said to be educated when he/she has the belief system that gives voice to everyone’s opinion. He/she is said to be educated when they know what is right and what is not. We have heard people saying if a girl is educated she helps educate the society. So true, but what is the use to educate her when she doesn’t have the right to say against any injustice done to her. Why for most of the parents getting her married is more important than her career? Why do they say ‘He is capable enough to take care of both of you, it will not be problem if you leave your job.’ In sugar coated words they are asking her to kill her dreams. If we all advocate gender equality, why are women still asked to keep their mouth shut on situations like rape, sexual assault, physical violence, etc.? Why is only a girl the ‘izzat’ of the family? Why only she is been taught the ‘Art of Adjustment’? Education of a girl is important but it is equally important to teach a boy to respect a girl, teach them that if she is a girl doesn’t mean she is inferior to you, and importantly teach them that she also is a human being like he is, so treat her like a human being.Also taking care of the family, children, doing all the household chores is not entirely her job, and she is not the one whom they can always bully. Women empowerment will gain a 100% result when both the gender are educated or let’s just say are on the same page.
- Make her feel safe: “Don’t stay out till late nights; the world isn’t safe for girls.” This fear of unsafe world stops her from putting her best step forward. Jobs nowadays require late night stays/overtime/exposure but then, “since you are a lady it doesn’t seems good you coming back so late,” or “you can’t go there alone, take your brother along.” is what we are tired of hearing. And then how can we forget about her clothing, “Don’t wear this it exposes most of your body parts.” We often hear people saying after any rape case is broadcasted all over in the news “She was very modern and so she got raped”, really?? But what happened when a 10 year girl was been molested by her own uncle. She isn’t safe in her own house, how can you expect the society to be safe for her. As said ‘It is not in what she wear, but it is the mindset/the thought process of the one who sees her’, or rather let’s put it to the social orientation and conditioning of these alpha males. women safety begins at home. When she is safe she is at her best to face the tough competition at her job front. So her being safe is a stepping stone to Women Empowerment.
- Equality, Reservation and Rights are not primary, Respect is what she actually wants: Through 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment of 1993, women are given 33.33 percent reservation in seats at different levels of elections in local governance i.e. at Panchayat, Block and Municipality elections which is a landmark in the direction of Women Empowerment in India. Various fundamental Rights in our Constitution for instance: – Article 14 ensure to women the right to equality, Article 16 provides for equality of opportunity for all citizen in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office, etc. These rights being fundamental right are justifiable in court and the Government is obliged to follow the same. Various laws like: The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, etc. are enacted by the Parliament in order to fulfill Constitutional obligation of women empowerment.
- Many more of such rights, laws regulations are be set up in favor of women. But this doesn’t give her the freedom and respect that she actually deserve. It is like setting up a lavish environment for her but asked her to do as directed. I am not being a feminist rather what I think is that it’s just every individual let it be male or female should respect every women / girl. Make her feel confident don’t disrespect her thoughts and her existence. That is what she actually wants.so, in other words be the wind beneath her wings.
- Now the question that is been frequently raised in today’s modern era is, Is Women Empowerment cause of increasing divorce in India? According to me the answer is No, women empowerment means to improve the quality of life for women by creating an environment for women where they can make decisions of their own for their personal benefit as well as for the society. Divorce entirely is a result of personal choice and lack of compatibility between the two individuals.
- Unlike the situation in past, women are not ready to compromise to a marriage which becomes a barrier in their stepping stone to success. Also, earlier women tolerated the ill done to them as divorce was considered as a stigma, but now most of the women know about their rights and they do stand against any injustice done to them. Also, now they don’t consider being a divorcee as a curse, rather they make themselves strong enough to face the situation.
- Government, CSR and Women Empowerment: Now since we know about all those laws and rights set up under the constitution of India for the upliftment and betterment of Women. Also, many companies regardless of Private or Public enterprise are now focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility by ensuring financial and social inclusiveness for women. Organizations now are required to pay a vital role in boosting economy by encouraging women employment to every section of Society.
Various SHGs (Self Help Groups) are also taking initiatives in this direction, the SHGs promotes small savings among its members. The savings are kept with a bank. The best example at the root level is of Amul, a milk corporation, which is dependent on women for their milk organization in villages. Women collect the cast for the milk and therefore have achieved a new social status.
Also, ITC, SAIL, TATA and many more such renowned companies believe that economic empowerment of women transforms them into powerful agents of social change both in rural as well as in urban areas. According to the Economic Survey for 2016-17 there is an improvement in some of the indicators that reflect women’s empowerment in India, like the percentage of women with bank account and those who have a say in household decision- making their numbers have increased. Now if organization, NGOs, Government and every individual works together, then India will surely reach to 100% Women Empowerment level.
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