By Onkar Nath:
Perhaps readers of this article would not agree with my title because it could come across old or repetitive. I would like to draw the attention of the readers that if you actually go by facts and see the current circumstances of the position of women in the societies of developing countries, it is majorly pathetic. It is true, that over the years women have made progress in many areas including the reduction of gender inequalities. An example could be our very own Indra K. Nooyi, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw or Chanda KochharÂ holding probably the most important positions in multinational companies. On the other hand, statistics show that close to 245 million Indian women lack the basic capability to read and write and the participation of women in the workforce is only 13.9% in the urban sector and 29.9% in the rural sector. These figures are just a few examples to prove the dismal situation of women in a country like India. You count different areas like education, health, employment and the crime-rate and you will find that on each and every front, the condition of women is highly pitiable. Now, why I am quoting an example of India? The reason behind this is that we claim that our country is in the league of superpowers, that it is a knowledge hub. I do not understand why. Maybe, we simply do not understand what these entail.
Few days back, I heard about Sosan Firooz, Afghanistan’s first female rapper who has made history in her country by defying the so-called conservative traditions of society. In a country like Afghanistan, where women are not allowed to go in public without wearing burqas, her heroic act of choosing a profession which other women in that country could not even dream of taking up is to be appreciated. You can feel her sadness in her songs which are about cruelty against women and children. Another example is Dr. Sima Samar who won the 2012 Alternative Nobel Prize. She was given this award for her decade-long efforts despite the constant danger to her life and her display of courage and commitment in one of the world’s most unstable regions. She was also one of the favourite nominees for the Nobel prize. It is therefore to be noted that the Human Rights Commission is becoming more powerful in Afghanistan.
I am citing these examples to help us learn that if a country like Afghanistan, which is one of the most hostile regions in this world can accept the empowerment of women, then why can’t the other developing countries where the situation is much more stable? Now the time has come for introspection. We should think how hundreds of Indira Nooyi’s or Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s could be produced. As per the World Bank report, women are more efficient economic actors, with greater managerial and entrepreneurial skills, than men. Let us exploit this in a positive way. India has a much more liberalized society than Afghanistan. India has access to good education, better employment and improved health conditions. These are all indicators of a progressive society and I think that all we need to do is to change our thinking. It is the thought which turns into action.
I am not going back to discuss history, but I would like to recall to the minds of our readers women like Indira Gandhi (India), Chandrika Kumartunga (Sri Lanka), Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan), Begum Khaleda Zia (Bangladesh) or recently Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar) who at some point of time changed the course of the whole nation by virtue of their courage and determination.