By Sudha Varghese
The world is very complicated or rather it is made very complicated. Until women achieve equality in her family, in society, and in the whole system changes will not come in her favour. Gender equality is a cry which needs to be taken more seriously than the attention it gets today.
Working for gender equality and justice has lots of relevance, I feel. I work with and for women who have not had the opportunity to get educated and to have the knowledge to understand the need for education. They are living at that stage where their priority is to have enough to means to put together two meals for their family and themselves. Only after one’s basic needs are fulfilled like food and shelter they can aspire for luxuries like education and health facilities.
The cause for most of the suffering the women go through today is due to the warped mentality that exists in the patriarchal society, that is that women are the property of men and they are meant to be not equal but subjugated and used as objects.
Gender equality needs to be addressed if we are to bring any change in the condition of women. Their place in the family, in society and their contribution to society, should be recognized. Women’s share in the workforce is much more than men’s and they manage situations no matter how challenging they are. It is not necessary to list and compare women and men and their capabilities here. Unless there is gender equality and gender discrimination minimized and brought to an end, our society will not progress and develop into a balanced society.
Often reports we get from the media about the way women are treated and made victims of violence both in public places and in one’s home, we cannot say much about the status of women. If they managed to stay alive, they are lucky. They are often made victims of violence, they are considered weak and hence they can be exploited in every way. There has to be a political will to plan and implement policies that are favorable for women and girls in the country to live safe lives, develop their capacities, get educated and procure jobs and become economically independent and make her own decisions about her life with freedom and responsibility. All this will lead to gender equality and to a balanced society and family where men and women live in harmony.
There should be more opportunities and space for women to come into decision making positions beginning with Panchayats (local village councils) to the Parliament. Underestimating their capacity and restricting them is a grave mistake and thus closing the doors for women to go ahead today and blocking the way for the future generation. Have more faith in women and offer them opportunities to grow and become confident and self-reliant will bring good results like better leadership from women will bring in better and relevant policies for the public to progress and develop as good citizens of our country. And women can do this much better than the leaders we have today in our country!
Every possible forum must be created to give more chances to women to create more free spaces for themselves and others, a violence-free society where all can live without fear, live with dignity; enjoy every right woman have to be equal particularly the reproductive rights to decide how many children she will have, and when she will have them.
All this is part and parcel of women who enjoy rights and are ready to let other women have their rights, thus a new society is born with much hope for a better tomorrow that enjoys equality and freedom.
(Sudha Varghese, also known as Sister Sudha, is a social worker and founder of Nari Gunjan, a non-profit organization that aims to empower the marginalized Dalit women, particularly those from the Musahar community in Bihar.)