“There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on one wing,” said Swami Vivekananda. This statement is a reminder of how important it is to maintain respect, integrity and reverence of women in our society.
Since the beginning of our civilisation, women have been put on a pedestal, they have been treated as an equal counterpart in the society, which was fairly egalitarian then. However, with passing times, stifling regimes, and orthodox cultures, the society transformed into a patriarchal body, leading to the position of women becoming subordinate to men.
The birth of a girl child is unwelcomed, her marriage is considered a burden, and widowhood is considered inauspicious in our society. The society is brimming with social evils like infanticide, purdah system, child marriage, dowry deaths, kidnapping, rape, gendered access to resources, acid attacks, physical/mental violence or abuse, and lack of access to reproductive rights.
Women are constantly surrounded by a handbook of do’s and don’t’s. Since childhood, they are taught how to talk in front of people, what to wear, what to eat and other such bondages that snatch their liberty and freedom. The trauma of women is ceaseless, as a result of which the sex ratio of India has declined abysmally to 930 per thousand males. The data paints a poignant picture of discrimination that they face in and around their home.
Some of the major causes of this discrimination are, first and foremost, the socio-cultural mindset of people in our society. Secondly, women are economically dependent on their male counterpart. Lastly, women are always taught to act and behave in a sophisticated manner.
However, there are many governments schemes like ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao‘, ‘Ujjwala’, ‘Swadhar’, and ‘One Stop Crisis Centre’ to protect and empower women. Moreover, there are constitutional safeguards like Articles 14 and 15, which say that women and men are equal and there should not be discrimination on the basis of gender. The Hindu Marriage Act 1955 abolished bigamy. The Hindu Succession Act 1956 gave daughters a right to get a share of ancestral property. Maternity Benefit Act grants maternity leave before and after pregnancy. Vishakha guidelines have been set to prevent sexual harassment of women at workplaces.
With such legislative safeguards, women are being uplifted, albeit gradually, and standing at par with the other genders.