September 22, 2012
Do you think women are weaker beings? Do you still harbour the presupposition that women can’t perform better than men?
What about women as CEO of most software companies today? In the world today, over a thousand companies have women as CEOs. Marissa Mayer is the Executive of Yahoo, Andrea Jung (Avon Products), Anne Mulcahy (Xerox Corporation), Indra Nooyi (Pepsico), Kiran Shaw (Biocon), Chand Kochhar (ICICI Bank), Shobana Bhartia (HT Media), Shilka Sharma (AXIS Bank), Naina Lal Kidwai (HSBC India), Preeti Reddy (Apollo Hospitals), Roopa Kudva (CRISIL).
Why go far off? Aren’t there women principals in South India and in several colleges of B’lore? Haven’t social activists like Mother Teresa, Medha Patkar, Teesta Setelvad and so on contributed their mite for the welfare of the society? Today women are in multi-national companies, giant advertising firms and mass publishing houses.
Importance of Women:
Woman as mother:
Mothering is one of the greatest and sacred gifts to human beings. Most women don’t realize the importance of it and the lifelong impact on their children. Before planning for a family a woman must know and be prepared for her role. It involves giving up career goals and personal comforts. A woman who performs this role to her best will find it extremely satisfying and of highest spiritual benefit.
Woman as sister:
Being a sister and having a sister are the greatest blessings on earth, said a woman in her conversation with me. One gets support, emotional experience of sharing resources, and a chance to see a situation from two points of view.
Woman as guide / friend:
At school as students we feel at home with teachers and friends who are motherly. We get a lot of confidence to grow because of their encouragement and support.
Parliament recently passed the Bill on Protection of Status of Women and Children by raising the age of consent to 18 from 16. The Protection of Women against sexual harassment at workplace Bill 2010 and Reservation for Women in Houses of parliament have yet to see the light of day.
We keep on affirming the patriarchal lie that women are responsible for many of the crimes. Clichés are created. The clumsy work of National Commission for women (NCW) only shows the power of politicians over a Women’s commission which actually cannot support itself.
Have we men experienced insecurity at night, in lonely places, bus stands, trains and at workplaces? What do we know of the struggle that a woman has to go through in the patriarchal society, always becoming a victim of ogling? What we don’t forget every year is just to commemorate March 8th as International Women’s day without a thought to do something concretely human. Have we analyzed anything beyond this?
Canada was rated recently the safest place for women on the basis of health care, education and safety. Unfortunately India is rated the worst regarding safety for women. Incidents like July 9th molestation outside a bar in Guhawati, attack on an innocent birthday party at Morning Mist home stay in Mangalore by cultureless goons, Rumi Nath, a women legislator beaten black and blue for marrying outside her religion, Dahodi, MP from Gujarat, assaulted for supporting an unprecedented issue, Geetika Sharma committing suicide due to harassment by a Haryana politician at workplace, are recent ones to confirm that in spite of technological advance humanness has never advanced.
What was our reaction when baby Falak and baby Afreen battered for life because of inhuman men? One woman named Maria Pitman was recently given the ‘Mom of the Year’ award for enduring in her struggle to deliver her baby in spite of having to undergo three rounds of chemotherapy to fight cancer. The legal system is against women.
We need to change our belief system. Girl child is viewed as meant for kanyadaan (a commodity given away in marriage). Inheritance is seen as patriarchal, and funeral pyre is the duty of son alone. Two out of every five women are abused in marriage. Saudi Arabia is planning to build a city exclusively for women to encourage careership.
Doesn’t she come into our life as a mother, sister or friend to us? Why are they ill-treated even in trains by ticket collectors?
Today woman is the target of honour killing, rape, molestation, kidnap, homicide, eve-teasing, infanticide - all cases of mere gender related violence. Abuses overtly or covertly at parties, bus stands, trains and pubs are usual. Roads, homes and even police stations are not safe. 71% of crimes that happen in our country are against women. MP, AP and West Bengal are the top states cities for crimes against women. 14.1% of cases in MP are of rape. All this happens just because the ‘stronger sex’ thinks they can overpower easily. Haven’t we come across a woman as a dear friend, sister or a mother, a source of motivation? Why do we always look at women from a pervert angle?
Possible ways of Empowerment and Respect:
Use of universal language in textbooks, songs and speeches.
Getting rid of degrading terminologies like ‘better half’, ‘other half’, etc
Giving leadership opportunities to them in our works, local bodies, etc
Stop discrimination and prohibition with regard to religious and moral practices and rituals.
Stop films that degrade moral values. Ex: The film Love Sex Dhoka was not banned at all.
Legislate strict laws for eve-teasers and rapists and raggers.
Renew respect for relationship – Parents, elders, leaders, prominent persons and film personalities must uphold value for relationship, since children and youth look at them and imitate.
Parents must allow their daughters to pursue higher education. This is evident in recent times with the lower, middle and upper class in urban areas.
Consider the mental and physical health of women as they give their best to their family. Ex: A mother postpones her dental appointment because of her child’s exam. A wife doesn’t eat till husband comes home. Working women take on stress of the workplace and home. Men also should share the household chores.
A woman’s point of view:
Emphasis on education and finding a good job for daughters has become a priority in all levels of society. It is shocking to see women who are economically independent, having no control over the money they earn, and over the decisions they take. It is primarily due to the prevalent social climate which is created by women.
Domestic violence should be taken as crime. For instance, Benazir Bhutto, even when she was the PM of Pakistan, had to face domestic violence from her husband. The marks of injuries were covered by her head scarf.
Women are often poor role models. Family is the first place where the most powerful impression of a woman’s place in society is established. Women need to have a say in using their income, deciding about property purchases, buying gifts, spending on holidays etc. If a child sees the mother begging for money, the child will soon catch it on inequality.
Women wish to continue to have their family name after marriage. Choice must be given to them, since a woman does not stop being a father’s daughter after marriage. Some parents pressurize daughters to get married deeming it the most important thing in the world.
Most people speak of women empowerment, but do not ever budge to give power to them. Empowerment is not possible without giving power to women at the highest level of democracy. Who brought laurels to our country in London Olympics 2012? Mary Koms and Saina Nehwals? Women are believed to be people behind boardroom doors?
Why are women the target of most crimes? Media is portraying and making profits on the culpable angle of women. Their core identity is thereby degraded and emphasized before the audience. The Protection of Women against sexual harassment at workplace Bill 2010 has come for discussion before Parliament after 15 years of Vishakha Judgement by Supreme Court which was misinterpreted and lacked detailed protocol. Labour contracts for women workers in factories are often sexist in nature regarding wages. They often insist on single status, not having children and so on.
I am not convinced of the status given to women lower than men. They too are as capable as men. They must be respected and given due recognition for the role they play in grooming children. If we can think of a society where crimes against women must decrease, it must start at the family level. The relationship of parents can influence the children to be more humane. Regular guidance and right meaning of relationship is the central need for an adolescent. When he/she does not find one he/ she may develop his/her own distorted perception of opposite sex and life.
Isn’t it true that women can change the perception of the world around them? They must take the lead and stop blaming men and society for their situation. If only women can begin to stop behaving like ‘helpless beings’ then crimes will subside.
Let us give them hope to live their life like any man living his. If women must stop living in insecurity the law against sexual harassment must be stronger. A woman’s life will have found empowerment only when she can sing boldly the lines of Rabindranath Tagore, “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high…..”
Lancy Fernandes - Archives:
- The Farce Called 'Aam Aadmi'
- Dear Teacher, Don't Freeze, Please!
- A Plea, from the Depths of Nature
- Feeling 'Jailed' by Your Cell Phone?
- The Undeveloped Indian Psyche
- Philosophy of the Poor
- Prisons of Injustice
- Suffering and Me...
- Poverty - A Lack of Food or a Lack of Justice
- The Smiling Nomad
- Journeying Together In Faith