This post confines to women in India
If more than fifty percent of population comprising of women have not obtained their rightful share and empowerment in social, political and cultural spheres, it speaks poorly of the country. What the growing women’s movement seeks is not a favour but a legitimate right. If the demand by others for reservation is on the basis of percentage of their population and the plea that they have been oppressed and suppressed in the past, it applies with greater force in the case of women. Sadly this movement is limited to the educated class amongst women and mostly in urban areas. It has not made any dent in the rural areas where the plight of women is at its worst.
The awareness to their inalienable right of equality with men and what it can do to change their lives is not extensive. The equality we talk about is not confined to social sphere but extends to political, economic, educational areas too with a larger participation consistent with the size of their population. A few sops here and there would not help much.
As a first step it is only their political empowerment that would usher the desired changes in innumerable areas where there is presently gender discrimination and inequality. The opening of white and blue collared jobs reserved for men till now to a few educated womenfolk does not signify things have been set right. India still ranks low among nations in the gender gap index. Indian women figure unfavorably in several parameters like literacy, mortality, child mortality, jobs, and comparable wages with men, sex ratio, post and prenatal care and their place in society. It would be naïve to expect men alone to bring about the much needed changes. The key lies only in their political empowerment where they would have an equal say if not more in guiding their destinies.
The promise to bring about a Women’s representation Act would ever remain unfulfilled unless pressure is brought upon the political class. The legislatures should be filled by women say 33% at least to start with. This should not become a political farce with family members of the existing political class replacing the men. The presence of large number of women legislators drawn from ordinary families in rural and smaller towns would bring greater sensitivity to the women’s issues..
This political empowerment of women alone would transform the society from its patriarchal nature to one of gender neutral social order. We should strive for an order when the women are able to feel that all laws of the country are equal and that they enjoy all the options that men have.. While the percentage of girls up to school level is almost equal to those of boys, surprisingly the ratio drops down significantly at higher levels of learning. . Equal presence in the educational institutions and employment is the first prerequisite towards empowerment and economic independence. What are the existing social and financial barriers that prevent this happening?
Women’s movement should not be content only with dowry deaths, domestic violence against women, immoral traffic, female feticide and such like matters but should transcend to the vital areas like the way society looks upon women. This movement should spread across the entire country to tap their hidden strength. Sadly the women’s movement is isolated to small pockets of influential women and is not representative in character of the wider cross section. The composition of the movement should be inclusive of all strata of society, all religions, literate and illiterate and all income groups. They can enlist the support of willing men to organize and spread the message.
Where women’s issues are concerned, they should speak in one voice cutting across all party affiliations as otherwise the movement would suffer