Rajul dwells on the issue of women empowerment in India, where the term is not understood properly. She advocates a proactive stand, where women are empowered and emancipated, in action, not words. The strong will of the society is a step in this direction, she opines.
With the advent of ‘women empowerment’ in the Indian sub-continent, women issues are being taken seriously. By ‘seriously’ I mean that these are talked about and debated upon at length. They are being accepted and rejected.
We must understand that women empowerment doesn’t mean ‘not to rape a lonely woman on street’, it doesn’t mean ‘letting them have time for themselves’, it doesn’t mean ‘helping them picking up the luggage’, it doesn’t mean ‘not to remark them on their dressing sense’, it doesn’t mean ‘not asking for dowry in marriage’. People, who come across this word for the first time, often confuse women rights, women protection and gentlemanly behaviour with women empowerment. Before debating upon this topic, one must know the actual meaning of women empowerment. People had been writing books on it, which, in turn, are being read by other writers.
Who and where are the real readers? Has any man or woman gone to a bookshop and asked for a book on women issues or has any common person ordered it online? There must be an awareness programme for sensitising people on women and women-related issues.
This term has become the ‘in’ thing with the elite, more of a fashion or fad among the arm-chair intellectuals. Empowerment means emancipation. It strengthens the social, political, economic and spiritual strength of the individuals or the community. Now, when we are connecting this word to women, it is evident that we are aiming at social, political, economic and spiritual growth of women.
Not only in India, but all over the world, we find very few women in a position of power. Often, they are there as a facade as in local self governance, village panchayat and municipal bodies. The men still call the shots.
Few corporate honchos and politicians are there. But, they are few and far between. Perhaps ‘women empowerment’ is more relevant to the western countries. There women are free and respected for their individuality. They are not subjected to any kind of double standards, not confined to gender specific roles. They feel more protected and more responsible towards their state in the society. They are not deemed as possessions and property unlike many places in India. These conditions are the pre-requisites women empowerment.
In India, these are the focus areas. Female infanticide must be considered a planned murder and the culprits must be punished accordingly. The laws should not be weak-kneed and its enforcement must be ascertained. Girl children must be given equal freedom and rights along with a good education. Women must not be expected to sit at home and look after family, unless they wish to. They must also contribute to the growth of the nation and society and put their education to some substantial use either from home or outside. Along with all this, they must not be considered a burden and all the lavish weddings must be stopped, and if necessary, banned. There must be a simple marriage for everyone (in terms of expenditure) so that the money isn’t wasted and might be used judiciously, for the future. A wedding must be done in presence of a wedding inspector to keep a watch on dowry related practices. Security of women is a serious issue and this can be taken care of only and only with prompt execution of legal punishments and pro-active action against the related offence. But all these are only ‘musts’, which are a far cry.
These are some of the prerequisites for us to move effectively in the direction of women empowerment – where women will be elected, employed, educated and selected atpar, without reservations, on the basis of their performance and capability for the respective jobs or education. Women don’t need special treatment, but they need support in realising their aspirations and dreams. I am not talking about the sick, pregnant, differently-abled and old women, who clearly need muchmore care and support than others.
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