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By Campus Watch:
Reservation in Parliament for women is under consideration and is a debatable issue. But something we should think about is whether change at the grassroot level is needed for women first. And that includes reservation for women in educational institutions. There are two sides to this debate, one that reservation in education will boost the confidence of women and socially uplift them, but on the other hand, it will increase the gender divide. Here’s what the youth had to say about reservation for women in educational institutions:
My answer is a resounding NO. There are two broad aspects to it, one purely philosophical and one which emerges from statistical evidence. The philosophical take sees reservation as opposed to the fundamental idea of equality. Women are not a minority in India, and giving them reservation would be categorising them as someone needing protection. A major reason why we have so few women leaders is the lack of confidence they have in themselves. They see themselves as inferior, and thus become the agent of propagating the patriarchy, the ill effects of which we set out to address through reservation in the first place.
The second reason is that reservation is not needed. Female child shows much better enrolment and pass ratios across primary, secondary and high schools throughout the country. The unfortunate aspect is the high drop out ratio. This drop out is due to a mindset problem and not because the girls are incapable of getting admission without reservations. What is needed is a change in attitude, structural changes in terms of reservation hold little promise for Indian society.
The question of reservation for women in education is surrounded by a plethora of arguments and counter-arguments. A glance at the wide gender gap in education would make anyone argue for reservation. However, it may lead to many unforeseen consequences; the most important being the inferiority complex it fosters in the minds of girls. It is a kind of positive discrimination which gives out a wrong message that quota route is the only way by which a girl can excel academically. There are also chances that reservation may become a tool in the hands of unscrupulous politicians. Moreover, the quota system takes away focus from the real issue, which is the festering wound of gender inequality. Hence, a better solution would be to apply a bandage on this wound and ensure basic education for all. Ensuring equal opportunities is indeed better than setting aside opportunities for women.
I think the question should be more concentrated on continuous cuts on education for all the marginalized sections, which of course includes women. As of now, yes there should be reservation so that women’s social status can be uplifted since they are oppressed because of their gender. It will increase democratic spaces for women in society, as a whole. Education faced rapid commercialization after 90’s due to which women suffered a major loss. In the recent decision of the UGC to discontinue non-NET fellowship, it is women who will suffer the most because they have only one resource to ensure their resistance for studying further against the will of their families. At an age when maximum women are married off, only a few put up a fight to study and achieve their individual goals. Reservation will not only bring quantitative change, but also qualitative change in educational campuses, such as the choice of topics for research, the sexist atmosphere of campuses, etc. But, reservation alone cannot give the solution, rather a consistent struggle should be done for free, equal, scientific education for all, beyond the farce logic of merit.
Reservation has always been a sensitive issue in our country, be it caste based reservation or reservation for women. To the latter, I would prefer not to answer in the affirmative. For I believe that we no longer live in such times where reservation is what women need. Doing so would be akin to providing an oversimplified concoction to a malady which requires careful introspection. Any such move may have the potential to kick up an already burning hornet’s nest.
It is rightly said that “The empowerment of women has to be social, economic and political“. It is believed that reservation for women plays an important role in bringing the women of the country forward as they play an insignificant role in general affairs. This should not be the criteria because if women empowerment is the sole issue then more focus should be driven towards providing basic education to women and giving them a life of dignity through education. The point to be stated here is that women in no way are unequal in comparison to men and giving them reservation is just to encourage them and to drive them towards a better life. This does not imply that reservation is given to women to treat them superior but it is just to treat them as equals. However, the criterion for giving reservations needs to be specified very carefully because the ultimate aim is to bring in positive developments in the society and it can only be achieved when each one of us exercises our privileges judiciously.
The very first answer that strikes on reading words like ‘reservation’ and ‘education’ is a big NO. There should be no more reservation in education, because the government has already inducted too many castes and groups into the paradigm of ‘reservation’. and its not leading to a ‘better future’. Reservation is given to improve the status of groups living in indecent conditions, but in many cases we have found quite the opposite of that. Students belonging to the influential section of the society are using it for their benefits. Even though, many supporters of this idea would be claiming that it would improve the status of women, but extending reservation to all sections of society would be a preposterous idea. As again many belonging from financially strong backgrounds would be having an unfair advantage. Moreover, to understand the perspective of women I asked my female friend about her opinion, and according to her too it is unfair to have reservation for women, because getting admission into reputed institutions on the basis of reservation is not justified keeping in mind how much effort is put in by every student in cracking a medical or engineering exam. Instead of that, give financial assistance to women belonging to tribal areas or from economically backward sections. In this way, the question of reservation becomes insignificant and also educational status can be improved.
Reservation doesn’t really mean much for the average woman. What is the use of reserving a seat if a girl is not allowed to attend school? Looking at the pathetic condition of women, especially in villages, there rises a question, “Is reservation enough?” Instead of just providing reservation in education, steps should be taken at the grassroot level. Awareness and strict measures should be adopted. The aim should be to change the mindset of the people. Maybe, then we can say that India is truly marching on the path of development.
Despite recent efforts by our country’s government to encourage women’s education with the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative, there is still a sizeable section of the female population who do not have access to education. The reasons for this are manifold—poverty and patriarchal suppression to name a few—and it is appalling that even in 2015, so many women, especially in non-urban areas are being discouraged from pursuing an education. In light of this, reservation for women in educational institutions might prove to be an important oppurtunity for these women, who would otherwise find it difficult to gain access to schools or colleges. It would also provide a much needed incentive for them to follow an academic career, and challenge the patriarchal pressure that prohibit them to do so. However, a reservation shouldn’t just be confined to one particular marginalized gender group. Gender does not function in a male/female binary, and there are many out there who do not conform to “traditional” understandings of gender (for example transgender, intersex or genderqueer people). An effort should be made to recognize and empower people of these gender identities as well—as they are often not given entry into prestigious institutions despite having academic merit. If there is a reservation, it should be inclusive of all marginalized groups.