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Women and men share same values, hopes, needs 

By: Manjula Bara HM

International Women’s Day is celebrated throughout the globe on March 8 every year. Celebrating Women’s Day is an opportunity to appreciate the remarkable contribution of women to our society. It is the need of the hour as it is a time for introspection.

This day has been recognized by United Nations General Assembly as a means of recognizing the contribution of women to society. There is increased participation of women in different areas. Women have showed that they are equal to men in all fields.

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the inspiring and courageous work women around the world are doing to secure women’s rights and shape more tolerant and equitable societies. We also reflect on the work that remains and remember the many women whose voices go unheard and who continue to be excluded from realizing their full potential.

Women are more empowered and aware of their rights and society has accepted their stand. Society is changing and paving way for the growth of women. The changes can be seen in the fields of education, healthcare, gender equality and job opportunity. The new decade has seen a marked change in attitude towards women at large. Women have made strides in every field like politics and space exploration.

Woman is an important pillar of society; she is mother, wife, sister, the daughter. Wherever she is, she participates actively in society. Women deserve more than a day.

It is a day to appreciate and give respect to all women who are the essence of our lives. This day is a day to honour the life, grit and determination of women. These words of Charles Malik, former President of United Nations General Assembly aptly sum up the role of women, “The fastest way to change society is to mobilize women of the world.” Legislations are made so that women get equal opportunities.

Because this is an opportunity to reflect, rejoice and recharge ourselves together in community with women all across the globe. It is also a day to connect with one another physically, virtually and spiritually –and to give thanks for the generations of amazing women who have come before us, and the generations of phenomenal women still to come!

One of concerns of society is gender equality. All need to create a gender fair environment where women can stand shoulder to shoulder with men and enjoy life to the fullest. She may occupy a special place in one’s life now or later as a mother, sister, wife, friend, teacher and boss.

It means that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and social protections. It does not require that girls and boys, or women and men, be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike.

Gender equality is achieved when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society, including economic participation and decision-making, and when the different behaviours, aspirations and needs of women and men are equally valued and favoured.

I dream a day or time that there will be gender equality. Yes it is possible. Is complete gender equality in society actually possible, even with physical and psychological differences in men and women? Even if males and females are as equal as society can make them, there will still be differences.

Some women will be able to do them just fine provided we emancipate the slaves and outlawed slavery system, we acknowledge that women are citizens and have the right to vote, own property and borrow money, we find institutional and government racism to be wrong and enact the civil rights acts, we are working on equal pay for equal work for all. We have finally admitted that those who wish to enjoy the many governmental and societal benefits of marriage have the right to marry no matter what their race, nationality, or sexual orientation may be.

And what that means to me is that a woman should have an equal opportunity with a man to pass the physical and mental tests to be a firefighter or carrier pilot, or to embark on a career as a scientist or business executive. And if she is successful in grasping the opportunity, she should be paid the same as a man doing any of those things.

(Manjula Bara, a member of Handmaids of Mary religious order, is a social worker and director of Samagra Vikas that stands for the integrated development of people and community with inclusive approach, Rourkela, Odisha, Eastern India)

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