Women empowerment from time immemorial has been a point of debate in Indian society. Even in the 21st century when polygamy, triple talak and “convenient time for women” are being discussed on a national level, there is an impending need to understand the failure in our social construct. The idea of women empowerment has been misinterpreted at many levels, for many years. The core idea of empowerment revolves around enabling women to chase their dreams by creating an ecosystem which would facilitate development of an individual without gender discrimination.
Various governments from time to time boasts of the equal opportunities that they put forward without a gender bias, the question that needs to be raised here is that if the system itself was so efficient then how is it that in the remotest corners of this country, the right to raise opinion is considered as a privilege by women and not the right that they possess as an individual. The idea of equality should be aimed at creating an ecosystem which could foster social and economic development of women, the societal outlook towards equality should be broad enough to understand that equality can only be attained by creating a streamlined process which would ensure education for girl children, prevent gender based foeticide, ensure prohibition of child marriage and eradicate the menace of violence against women.
Mahatma Gandhi was one of the few people who spoke about the need for equal opportunities for women in the society. While he talked about this seven decades ago as part of his Constructive Points of India, it continues to be relevant in today’s context as well. As we are evolved into a country where an Unnao and Kathua doesn’t make it to headlines anymore as it is no longer “prime time” material, it’s high time that this society starts assessing where the system failed in educating its men on how women should not be treated as mere commodities. For a country which boasts of its rich cultural heritage and historic lineage, the blotch of being the most unsafe country for women in the world is not a negligible issue anymore. Where Mahatma Gandhi taught the citizens to respect women, the society itself has stooped to a new low when it starts dictating and moral policing victims based on the dress they wear and the time they chose to go out. For a country formed on the basic pillars of equality and liberty, there is an unwritten disclaimer which implies that freedom and liberty are very much gender specific.
There is an impending need for India as a society to revisit the teaching of Mahatma Gandhi and restructure its core ideals of mutual respect and opportunities that he had envisaged. The women should play a more active role in the decision making process of the country, even though the recent governments have shown the way by allocating key portfolios to women, the participation of women in democratic processes should not be limited to just the top level of the ladder. There is an impending need for a platform where women can raise their voice and set the preferences straight for the country. The National Agenda Forum by I-PAC provides the women of this country the much needed avenue to raise their voice and show the path to the lawmakers of the country.