The Five Pillars Of Women Empowerment: Let’s Be Bold For Change
Till 100 years back she was presented as gift to Kings and Emperors.
Till 70 years back she had no voting rights
Till 60 years back there was no social practice to protect her in marriage
Till 30 years back she was burnt to ashes on her husband’s demise
What has changed now?
~30% women in India still marry under age 18 (Source )
~50% men and women in India think wife beating is justified (Source )
~Every hour one woman killed over dowry i.e. 8000 – 9000 deaths per annum. (Source )
~Average of 6 rapes, 15 molestations in India each day (Source )
~Close to 7000 cases of human trafficking every year, mostly for prostitution and always on the rise (Source )
~Today illegal gender detection and abortion of female fetus, is more than 1000 crore industry (Source )
Recently while watching Ms Sujata Mohapatra performing Odissi dance on the theme of Ardha-Nariswara during a presentation in Delhi I realised how much our ancient culture and tradition trusted in the equality of male and female powers for the sustainability of the universe.
Manusmriti, the ancient legal text of Hinduism says Yatra Naryastu pujyante, Ramante tatra Devata!
“Where women are respected, gods rejoice”
We are part of that glorious civilization where women used to be educated and participated in decision making be it home, war, politics or other domains of life. Our land once begetted great female scholars as Ghosha, Lopamudra, Sulabha Maitreyi and Gargi and believed in remarriage of women. Till today, many of us still reminisce about the celebrated practices and glorification of the “Pancha Kanya” (i.e. 5 virtuous women)
Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and. Mandodari for their strength in dealing with difficult times and coming out victorious in all battles of life. Even courtesans as Amrapali, Vasantasena and Vasavadatta have been treated with honor as they graced public ceremonies with the royals, their contributions inscripted in many ancient paintings and poetry with great pride.
Where has all the glory faded, and why? And who has been responsible for our poor plight today?
While analyzing further once I had come across few golden words of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation that always been my inspiration.
“My experience has confirmed me in the view that the real advancement of women can come only by and through their own efforts” – Gandhi
The culprit behind the decline of our stature today is in me and it’s you, its women, all of us who have always preferred leaning back and live in shadow of others rather than struggling for our own existence. And we would be liberated only by our own efforts.
Contrary to general belief I negate the fact that women who are ambitious, powerful or aggressive towards demands of life would lack softer motherly or wifely emotions. Why do we forget the tale of Rani Laxmi Bai who fought the first war of independence against the mighty British army for the future welfare of her own son? Was she not a great affectionate mother who sacrificed her life for a son who even didn’t take birth from her own womb? So was the tale of Rudrama Devi and so was Karuwaki. Even today I can give you many examples of women not only from India, but worldwide who are top achievers in their organization and at the same time enjoy a blissful family life at home.
The 5 pillars of women empowerment: Education, Health, Security, Finances, Emotion.
Education: As per a report published in 2011 literacy rates (age 7 and above) were 82.14% for men and 65.46% for women. Apart from woman’s own future education also affects family planning and population stabilization efforts by the government. It’s the light that can drive us out of darkness, and all the barriers social, economic or political would fall one by one. Let’s help women with this basic necessity of life. Let’s make education our gold.
Health: Every year more than 3 lakhs women die during childbirth, 50000 in India itself and that is worst recorded number in the whole world. Good nutrition, medicine, family planning, reproductive technology play key role in woman’s empowerment. Let’s adopt safe practices during labor, childbirth, breastfeeding and the early postnatal period.
Security: The crimes and violence against the females have been increasing immensely. Time is gone when we would only think street harassment is wrong, we all must start acting against it. In last couple of years Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has passed orders in making self-defense classes for girls mandatory and hence it’s up to all of us to enforce these practices in each and every school small or large in our country. Self defense raises self-confidence, self-reliance and makes a female alert, attentive. Let’s inspire our daughters to be their own protector.
Finances: “Earnings of a female are optional”, let this thought die an abrupt death here and now itself. Let it not propagate to our next generation. It’s the very idea that has instigated many of my brightest childhood friends not opt for a career and also caused crores of deaths among Indian women in the form of female foeticide, infanticide, abandonment or dowry. Today even many educated parents do not wish a girl child as she is a burden to them. Time has come for every woman to earn her own living and open doors to the lives of women of our future generation to live a life of dignity.
Emotion: In India 36% people suffer from depression and women due to the biological changes such as menstruation, menopause, postpartum and pregnancy along with the gender biased social structure are twice more prone to gloom than men. The survivors of different forms of victimizations such as rape, adulterous partner or abusive relationships have higher risks of self-blaming and low self-esteem that sometimes may lead to suicidal tendencies. True empowerment is also about freedom and happiness. Sacrifice is a great word, yet not always rewarding. Hence it’s a dire need to get rid of toxic people as well as related thoughts from life so that we have enough space for positivity. Also networking and talking to people and building up trust can be a first step towards recovery from depression. The ultimate indicator of women empowerment lies in helping others (women) to achieve some degree of success; be it in education, health, safety or finances.
We have lost time for our grandmothers and mothers. Let’s not waste time for our daughters and granddaughters. The more women we have in line with education, financial independence and leadership positions, the better would be the future of our next generation. Because if today we do not take a stand for ourselves, the disparity may go on for many more generations to come.
Let’s be bold for change