Looking ahead with confidence
Colourfully dressed woman at the ghat by the Ganges.
Can you better the condition of your women? Then there will be hope for your well-being. Otherwise you will remain as backward as you are now. Our right of interference is limited entirely to giving education. Women must be put in a position to solve their own problems in their own way. No one can or ought to do this for them. And our Indian women are capable of doing it as any in the world.
While at home, the expectations that most women put on themselves or experience as pressure from others, is to be able to manage multiple pulls and pushes that are created by various demands. These could be managing finances, managing children, managing the elderly at home, managing domestic help, managing the kitchen, managing the budget, the bank, the savings, the planning and the actual carrying out of projects – just like a work place. Moreover, they also feel guilty and shamed about not actualizing their potential.
At work, the values that most of the women executives tend to follow are quite masculine such as tough, analytical, ability to impact, taking a stance (often more powerfully than most men). A woman in such a context believes that her innate strength of a harmonizer, of a caring and helpful nature, may compromise her positions in the organization, as the organization usually rewards high “performers” and not high context creators.
Today women are much more conscious and aware about their rights and privileges. They are much more conscious about their choices of sexual reproduction, their choice of career, responsibilities towards their family, making choices about marriage and childbirth. Today women are raising their voices about sexual independence and asserting rights over their bodies; voices, which even ten years ago was not heard of.
Today women are taking part in almost every part of the society and claiming their spaces in almost every aspect of the male domain, be it in the erstwhile male dominated careers or be it by raising their voices against the dowry system, physical and emotional ill treatment and other discriminatory practices.
Today there are many organizations who are working towards empowerment of women that not only look at the socio economic rights of women, but also their rights over their bodies and emotional well being.
Empowerment in India would need an approach that would cut across the social strata and would address the diverse and divergent needs of women in this vast country and perhaps the first step that we are taking today are by talking about security, decision making power and mobility of women as being the three most important indicators for women’s empowerment.
Empowerment is now increasingly seen as a process by which the one’s without power gain greater control over their lives. This means control over material assets, intellectual resources and ideology. Gender inequality is the outcome of unbalanced power relations between two sexes. Therefore, empowerment can be seen as a process of social change, wherein these power relations are restructured and renegotiated. Social change can be catalyzed by affirmative steps like securing girl’s rights to education, building the women’s leadership and economic capacities, setting quotas for women’s seats in local and national governments and providing women with information on their legal rights. The process of empowerment has implications for gender-just society. However,
for this to take place, whole communities, men included, have to be included in
the process of renegotiating the use of social, economical and political spaces.
Note by Ranjana Kumari