“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman”. – Margaret Thatcher
The discourse of women empowerment in India is absolutely reliant on numerous disparate variables, including scholastic stature, casteism, topographical whereabouts, (rural/urban), and age. There are policies laid down on paper pertaining to women empowerment, at both national and local (panchayat) levels, in sectors pertaining to health, fiscal policies, edification, political association and gender-based violence. But the eternal question lies – are we following them? The answer is – there is a consequential hiatus between the policies laid down and the actual practice followed by a faction of people.
We reside in a patriarchal misogynistic society, which is one of the key reasons for this hiatus in the actual execution of laws and strategies, which address nepotism, budgetary disadvantages, and oppression against women in India.
We inhabit a world where female deities are revered, and the ordinary woman is subjugated, harried, ill-treated, raped, and abducted every single day. To control the rising violence in women-related cases, the government has implemented certain rights, which every Indian should know. From a feminist bird’s eye view, here are those eleven laws which every citizen should obey:
The figures related to sexual and other physical crimes against women are always appalling in India, at any given hour, day or year. There are various independent establishments that work towards assisting women to fight this constant threat of violence. Their goal is to work towards making the nation a safer place for women by commencing changes in stratagems and orchestrating recognition manoeuvers that aim to enlighten the masses.
Their objectives are:
But, there is a hiccup. Our patriarchal society creates a direct impact on the empowerment of rural women, which is much less as compared to the urban populace. Rural women, unlike the women living in cities in urban areas ones, are subjected to inequalities at much higher rates and in all domains of life. An urban educated woman enjoys adequate access to fiscal adequacies, vigour and pedagogy, and often encounters less domiciliary oppression.
There are further hindrances to the life of a rural woman. As I cited at the beginning of the essay – education, casteism and class divisions are some of them. The lower category, i.e. the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward castes suffer maximum maternal volatility and female feticides. Unable to bear the medicinal expenditures, and also with little or no exposure to education, these women aren’t allowed to participate in decision making and also face a higher level of sexual abuse which often goes unrecorded.
Societal severance amongst urban females also has a direct impact on women accreditation. Upper class and scholarly females are preferred in areas of healthcare, education and remunerative opportunities. The lower class, less educated females in urban milieu have lower access to such facilities. The brisk urbanisation and financial upheavals have given rise to illegal slums and slum dwellers. They are unorganised, subjected to frequent raids and demolition, and the dwellers face other forms of abuses and insecurities. The women and children are worst affected and are also deprived of basic human rights.
The above scenario has enforced woman activists to stem in feminism and feminist movement (women’s movements) which refers to “a series of political campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women’s suffrage, sexual harassment, and sexual violence, all of which fall under the label of feminism and the feminist movement. The movement’s priorities vary among nations and communities, and range from opposition to female genital mutilation in one country to opposition to the glass ceiling in another.”
There are certain misconceptions surrounding the word ‘feminism’. Many people believe it means hating a man or wanting a woman to rule over a man or everything. No.
“Feminism simply means believing that men and women are equal, neither is better than the other and neither should be treated with more respect than the other – everyone should be equal on all levels, simple as that.”
In closure, I say though, in spite of so many hardships, the women in India have excelled in sectors like medicine, engineering, aviation, civil services, army and teaching. The number is still limited. India still has a long way to go.
Forge ahead in long strides, women. Let these men not overpower you. Unite yourselves and put an end to female foeticide, educate a girl child and empower a woman. That’s how a nation can progress. Enough said!
This post was originally published here.