March 8 is widely known as International Women’s Day. The day is celebrated to honour the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is also a call to take action for accelerating women’s equality.
If you want to visit the official site of International Women’s Day and read more about the day, you can click here.
See, we all know the hardships and struggles that women, our mother, daughter, wife, sister or any woman companion have to go through. Those painful and horrific statistics of women’s under-development needs no introduction, especially in the age of media.
Therefore, we all understand the importance of this day and the meaning it fills in the heart of women, but, does India deserve to celebrate this day? Is our Bharat Mata worthy of celebrating March 8 when there are women and girls being raped, assaulted, tortured, neglected, and made to suffer?
It is a shameful fact to admit that a total of 89,097 cases related to crimes against women were registered across India in 2018, according to data released by the NCRB. Our female labour force participation has fallen to lowly 26% in 2018 from 36.7% in 2005. Furthermore, international reports cite that the gender pay gap was 34% in India between working men and women. A recent study, Women, Business and the Law 2020 by the World Bank, presented a disturbing fact that women only get to enjoy three-fourth of legal rights as compared to men globally.
These all are just the basic figures present in the official domain on the mainstream issues. Now, let us take you to the countryside where the story of women’s development is more abysmal than you can imagine.
Aim to Sustain Foundation team held an interactive session in Singrauli (Madhya Pradesh) where we got an opportunity to chat with the local population of the nearby villages.
We got to know that, most of India’s population lives in an area where there is little-to-no access to health facilities at all, let alone the affordable component of Medicare. The closest hospital was on the other side of the hill which is few kilometres away. And, to the icing on the cake, let us tell you that there is no pucca road connectivity to link the village directly to the hospital. Just try to think of an ailing patient or pregnant women who are unable to get help because of our system’s ignorance.
This may sound a little bizarre thing but most of our villages still face this kind of difficulties.
Since most of the audience comprised of women, we want to share a moment of their life. Diving into the stories of these women, we came across a lady who was unable to conceive a child, even after 10 years of her marriage. She told us that she and her husband are clueless as to why there are unable to conceive. Owing to the social stigma of being infertile (or Baanjh), she is now subjected to various kinds of mental torture by her in-laws. Some of the other women also complained of similar happenings and confidentially described to us instances of domestic violence at home. It was heartbreaking to grasp the fact that these women have to go through such ordeals daily and carry on like its normal routine.
Well, her answer was really simple. With few tears rolling down her eyes, she said, “If I could get a decent hospital in the vicinity of their houses, they could have been spared from such a troublesome experience. None of it would have happened if we just had a doctor to tell us what is wrong with us.”
As she sobbed, she asked us, “Are we the lesser beings of this country that we don’t even deserve a nice healthcare system and round the clock medical treatment?” This broke us further and none of us could dare to say a word to her innocent request.
Such is the tragic story of our Indian women, therefore we ask, do we deserve to celebrate Women’s Day before making each woman of our country empowered? Shouldn’t we focus on making our women stronger and healthier first, instead of taking pride in celebrating days like this?
We leave the answer to you.
About the author: Saurabh Parmar is a content writer at Aim to Sustain Foundation.