Dreaming to live in gender equal world
By Sr. Justine Gitanjali Senapati, CSJ
New York: Woman is one of the most beautiful masterpieces of God’s creation. She reveals the feminine nature of God’s warmth of love.
For me woman and man are the two sides of the same coin, having the same significant value. Therefore woman and man complement and not dominate each other in anyway.
I compare the potency of women in society as a spinal code to a body which connects to the entire system to stand straight. If society wants to be truly wealthy, healthy, educated and progressive, it should give equal rights and opportunities to the physical, emotional and economical development of women as equal to men.
Education is one of the essential components to bridge between men and women, to eliminate the gender disparities and establish equal opportunities for all.
The words of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, are so true when she said, “We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”
The United Nations (UN) estimates elaborated by Worldometers, the current world population is 7.5 billion as of January 2017 and half of them are believed to be women. But only 22.8 percent of all national parliamentarians were women as of June 2016 and as of September 2016 only 10 women were serving as Head of State and nine serving as Head of Government.
The poverty, hunger and illiteracy rates are high even today among the girls and women in this 21st century. The inequality is the major cause for it.
Violence against women is the dreadful enemy to the gender equality and a poison to the harmonious living in society.
Being born as a woman, she is being made to be inferior to men and subjugated by men. It is an awfully wrong belief system in society but critically tolerated by the majority.
Women and girls are particularly vulnerable when they find themselves in situations where their safety and security cannot be ensured and where they may be subjected to sexual violence or exploitation.
The trafficking of women and girls for prostitution and forced labour is one of the fastest growing areas of international criminal activity. Women who are trafficked are the most vulnerable of all as the process of trafficking involves exploitation, coercion and the abuse of power.
Trafficked women and girls often believe they will work in legitimate occupations but find themselves trapped into forced prostitution, marriage, domestic work, sweatshops and other forms of exploitation that are similar to slavery. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally.
Everyone in society needs to change the mindset on how a girl or a woman should act in a family or in a society because a woman is born as free as a man.
The discriminatory laws, traditions and the religious practices pertaining to women needs to be discussed in social stratifications and has to be abolished.
The false belief on women’s role and their status in the sacred books needs to take serious consideration and discussions. Portraying women as subject to men and depict women as a tempter to men is offensive to women.
The Holy Books of the major religions in the world are written by the so called holy men. So the biased elements on women need to reconsider in every religious practice. Women are not only created to be looked at for their beauty but who possess the impending qualities as men do. But most societies in the world are male dominated and still majorities are with preconception of the hierarchical and patriarchal system.
As I serve at UN for the most vulnerable and voiceless, I hope to strengthen protection for all the marginalized, especially women through lobbying and advocacy for the international policy change initiatives.
However, this will occur only if more governments become signatories to the critical issues on gender.
Governments also need to address deficiencies in regulatory frameworks. Ensure the adding financial responsibilities to the other responsibilities that women have, can lead to stress but can also provide women the opportunity of gaining autonomy and experience in decision-making process. So that the dream of living in a gender equal world be realized fully one day.
(Sr. Justine Gitanjali Senapati, an Indian national based in New York, is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph. Since 2014 she serves at UNO as a member of NGO for the Congregations of St. Joseph that includes 30 Independent congregations as Main Global Representatives.)