7 Reasons Why Feminism Is So Crucial For A Country Like India

It’s common to hear the word “feminism” in the course of your usual dining table conversations and newsroom debates. This word is one of the most misused and misapprehended words of all time. What exactly does feminism mean? Is it a war against men? Does it include placing women above men?

Feminism is an attempt to get rid of this notion of dominance and subordination, to bring both genders on the same level.

Feminism is the notion that all humans are equal regardless of their gender. Feminism is uplifting women so that men and women are treated equally. It’s not about demeaning men or declaring them inferior. It’s not based on women having power over men; rather, the idea is that women should have power over themselves.

Most often, feminism is misconstrued as a “women’s movement” as it originates from the word “feminine”. But, it’s imperative we realise that feminism is not just a women’s movement, it’s a “movement for all humans”, that is concerned with the liberation of both, men and women. However, it’s important that we also accept that women have been the prime victims of years of patriarchy and toxic masculinity. Feminism is an attempt to get rid of this notion of dominance and subordination, to bring both genders on the same level.

Even before the term feminism was introduced, we had some great feminist icons in our culture and history. Draupadi, a woman born out of the fire, avenged the humiliation meted out to her in the Mahabharata. Durga Maa, an incarnation of goddess Parvati, was created as an amalgamation of all the Gods to destroy evil. In the Ramayana, Sita fought for her independence and raised her two sons single-handedly. Rani Lakshmi Bai and Chand Bibi are other examples of immense courage and power.

Why Is Feminism So Crucial For A Country Like India?

India needs feminism because a woman deserves the same amount of money and respect as a man does for performing the same tasks.

1. To Rid Women Of Male Dominance

India needs feminism because a woman should not be considered a responsibility of a male throughout her life, whether it be her father, brother, husband or son. Practices like kanyadaan’, ‘Raksha Bandhan’ and the ‘purdah system’ where a woman is veiled behind a ghoonghat, highlight the extent of male dominance. These practices emphasise that strong, capable men have to protect the weak, fragile women and that women aren’t designed to protect, but to be protected.

2. To Promote Equality Of The Sexes

India needs feminism because a woman is not a burden and marriage should not be the only reason for her existence. Every year over 2 lakh girls are killed even before they can step into this world and thousands of women die due to dowry harassment.

In many Indian households, males and females are treated differently; education, as well as nutrition for boys, is prioritised, while that of the girl is neglected. Women in many Indian families eat last and the least after serving all their other family members. This discrimination is reflected in the statistics released by the government, which states that almost 50 per cent of teenage Indian girls are underweight and 52 percent are anaemic.

3. To Ensure Women Are Respected Regardless Of Their Career Choices

India needs feminism because a woman is treated with disdain whether she is employed or not. A certain section of our society believes that it is an offence if a woman is well-educated and working, to support herself, or her family financially. Another sophomaniac section of our society believes that becoming a housewife would contribute little to women’s empowerment.

Women who choose to raise their children full time over continuing their career are criticised. But what is vital is to realise that just because a woman isn’t earning doesn’t mean her work is less important. Some research also points out how being a homemaker is equivalent to working 2.5 jobs. So, a profession shouldn’t be deemed important based on the amount of money it offers but on the amount of value it holds.

India needs feminism because a woman deserves the same amount of money and respect as a man does for performing the same tasks. Working women in India earn only 66% of what their male counterparts earn for the same amount of work. This gender pay gap and disparity in opportunities discourage women from performing well in the professional domain.

A report suggests that India would be 27% richer if there were higher employment rates of women. The glass ceiling effect is present in India, which means that there is an invisible barrier that prevents women from rising to higher ranks in a corporation. In India, females make up only 11.2% of board members in firms which is less than the global average. We can see the same trend in the newly elected 17th Lok Sabha where only 14% of the members are women.

The Women’s Reservation Bill, 2008 is a pending bill in the Parliament, which proposes to reserve 33% of all seats in the Lok Sabha, and in all state legislative assemblies for women. The bill is still pending as it never went to the Lok Sabha. Women are considered ill-suited for holding power in a democracy, but what we don’t realise, is that any person who understands the problems of running a home, will be well suited to understanding the problems of running a country.

4. To Break Menstruation Taboos

India needs feminism because we have maligned the purity of something as natural as menstruation and turned it into something unmentionable. Some Indian women on their periods are treated as untouchables. They aren’t allowed to enter the kitchen, forced to sleep on the floor; they cannot be touched, spoken to, neither can they share the same table with others.

Because of the stigma attached to it, there is a lack of awareness about the methods of menstrual protectionData suggests that about 46 percent of women do not use hygienic methods of menstrual protection and36 percent feel uncomfortable in buying them with other customers around. India suffers from something called “period poverty” because we lack enough sanitary products to cater to our menstruating population. Another thing that comes to light is the hypocrisy, where on one hand we worship Kamakhya Devi, also known as the bleeding goddess, and on the other hand, we restrict women on their periods from entering her temple.

5. To End Unfounded Stereotypes About Gender Roles

A still from the movie Lunchbox. Stereotyping in family roles includes how men are expected to be the sole breadwinners of a family and females are presumed to single-handedly take up the responsibilities of managing the home.

India needs feminism because even professions and family roles have been stereotyped based on gender. For example, professions like engineering, aviation, and military are considered masculine and professions like teaching, fashion designing, and homemaking are considered feminine. Stereotyping in family roles includes how men are expected to be the sole breadwinners of a family and females are presumed to single-handedly take up the responsibilities of managing the home.

India prides itself on producing great female warriors such as Rani Padmavati, Razia Sultana, and Rani Ahilyabai Holkar, yet the participation of women in the Indian defence forces is disheartening. Equal involvement of men and women in the army is still a far-fetched dream. This only supports the stereotype that masculinity implies physical strength and femininity, sentimentalism.

6. To End The Idea That Men Need To Be Stronger Than Women

India needs feminism because no man should be under the pressure of being emotionally and physically stronger than a woman. It’s time that statements like “Mard ko dard nahi hota” and “Ladke rote nahi” are sidelined and men are not sneered at for volunteering to take up responsibilities at home.

7. To Stop Telling Women How To Dress

India needs feminism because girls are shunned for their choice of clothing. There have been several unreasonable instances where fatwas have been issued against female celebrities for wearing western clothes, one of them for also wearing a saree. Another such appalling incident occurred when a prominent politician compared immodest clothes with an invitation to rape. Mindless WhatsApp forwards and misogynistic serials and movies that normalise stalking and eve-teasing worsen the situation.

It’s time we recognize that feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives this strength. Nobody should be afraid of being referred to as a feminist because it frees both men and women from the imposed gender stereotypes. Feminism shouldn’t be perceived as hostility against men because Me asking fr my rights will not deprive you of yours!                                                                                 

Created by Sanchi Saxena

Are You A Feminist?

 

Similar Posts

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below