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The most unsafe…apparently the next automatic word which hits the mind is- WOMEN. There are innumerable cases, facts, live examples which molest the women in our society. Physical abuse not being its only part but mental harassment, emotional imbalance and psychological trauma are its very basic outcomes. Women in our society needs to be empowered. But think why is it that only women needs to be empowered and protected? Why we have come to such a stage that if not done, then otherwise consequences would be disheartening? The answer to this is a male chauvinistic society which by now has practiced constant habitude of exploiting and suppressing women. India is not the only country to have a male dominating culture but even developed countries like America, China, Japan are queued in the line. Women is associated with different roles in a family and therefore she deserves a life of dignity with pride but unfortunately what happens is absolutely opposite and shocking. Rape and sexual assault is not an only problem in India but in reality they have to face ugly common events of eve-teasing, commenting, vulgar gestures, following and teasing in public and what not!
Women in India are not only constant victims of rape but actually it is their suppression and demarcation which makes them fall under a separate specie to be ‘empowered’. She has no one with whom she may share her agony, her own won’t believe her and she is all left alone in this hostile world. There are many so many ugly acts which occurred in the past that the words couldn’t be enough to state such a miserable condition and shockingly the number is increasing at a hike.
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” In order for our society to ensure that future generations of women will have equal access to the same important resources currently available to men, an increase access to resources such as land, credit, education, technology and information can give them the opportunity to participate equally with men in key decisions that affect their lives. In particular, economic and educational opportunities should be readily available to them. By providing new economic opportunities, women will be able to use their skills and knowledge to strive to be successful in economic field against men.. Women are striving more significantly than ever in economic success. When women are empowered, their families, communities and companies all benefit. The productive power of women entering the workforce has dramatically increased. The influence of women and leadership in business creates a different economic and social paradigm, delivering a more balanced, diverse environment that basically changes the old mindset of men being the sole provider for the family. On the other hand, education is important for everyone, but it is especially significant for women in this case. This is true not only because education is an entry point to other opportunities, but also because the educational achievements of women can have effects within the family and across generations. By investing in girls’ education, this is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty. Educated women can understand the importance of health care and know the available resources to themselves and their children. Education encourages and helps women to know their rights and to gain confidence to claim them. Feminist approaches have been effective in reducing the effects of gender inequality such as social justice movements that have been highly effective in exposing inequality in our society.
The inequalities between girls and boys are evident prior to children beginning elementary school. Girls are made aware that they are unequal to boys as soon as they start. Even different behaviors are acceptable for boys than for girls, for instance every time students are seated or lined up by gender, teachers are affirming that girls and boys should be treated differently. Girls are praised for being neat, quiet, and calm, whereas boys are encouraged to think independently, be active and speak up. A permissive attitude towards sexual harassment is another way in which schools reinforce the socialization of girls as inferior. When schools ignore sexist, racist, homophobic, and violent interactions between students, they are giving tacit approval to such behaviors.
Equality in India is a relatively recent concept as enshrined in our Constitution. The Right to Equality is a Fundamental Right, and our Constitution gives all Indians the right to practice it, irrespective of caste, creed, economic status, race or gender. Ancient Indian civilization was steeped in inequalities, mostly of caste. With the advent of Buddhism and Jainism, the caste system received a jolt, as the common man started questioning its very basis. Later, Christianity and Islam too, spoke of the equality of all men in the eyes of God. The Bhakti movement in medieval India borrowed from these concepts and the majority of Indians became familiar with the concept of equality. With India achieving independence in 1947, equality became a matter of State authority. The framers of the Constitution made sure that future governments should be able to apply its principles to the social fabric of the nation. This has resulted in all Indians being provided with equal opportunities to excel. As a result, our nation is developing and modernizing at a fast pace. Though late but the measures were taken to improve the situation of women. As per the Directive Principles of State Policy it is the duty of the state to prove enabling conditions and secure minimum standards to its citizens, in furtherance of the fundamental rights. And, in accordance with its principles, the Government has undertaken many initiatives – legislative and executive policies, schemes and programs towards this.
India is also a signatory to several International Treaties and Conventions. One of the important Conventions impacting women is The International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which has been ratified by a majority of UN member states. India has ratified the treaty in the year 1993.The United Nations initiatives, which include the three UN Decade for Women, Conferences held at Mexico (1975), Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995); and the CEDAW, have had a substantive impact on the status of women in India. ‘Towards Equality’, the first national report outlining the status of women followed Mexico conference. Following the Nairobi conference, Government of India announced ‘The Perspective Plan for Women’ and it outlined policy directions and new administrative structures for the development of women. At Beijing, the government of India announced 33 per cent reservation for women in local governing bodies. Another significant change worth mentioning is the shift in focus of the United Nations Initiatives and the International Women’s movement in the last three decades. It has moved from a needs assessment through country wide status reports in the 1970s, to economic development for women in the 1980s, and finally to empowerment – socioeconomic and political, of women in the 1990s. India is still adopting measures to enhance these measures to protect and give equal status to women.
At the end I would like to conclude by stating that empowerment alone helps in some dimensions at the expense of others so we cannot entirely depend upon empowering unless we are equal. Neither economic development nor empowerment is the magic bullet which we think would change the status of women with a blink of eye. To bring about equality between men and women it will be necessary to take policy action that favor women at the expense of men, and it will be necessary to do that for a long time, up till when women are not equal but at least a far high above the current ratio. We may need to have the political courage to stand for equity for its own sake. We strongly need to end this vicious cycle of gender equality by supporting not depressing women. I along with all need to pledge for women’s equality and protection. We need to unite to make India a better place to live, for women and for all.
Campus Associate, Amity University