I am not just a woman,
I am also a human.
Help me believe in what I can be,
And all that I am.
These lines from a very famous hymn show us the strength, determination and humility of a woman.
A woman has remained a controversial figure in the social history of India. She has been adored and respected; and on the other hand, rebuked and ill treated. History renders us numerous instances of women with valor and courage. There have been scientists like Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin; writers like Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, Arundhati Roy; film directors like Aparna Sen, rulers like Razia Sultan, Princess Cleopatra of Egypt, Rani Lakshmi Bai and the list is literally endless.
India has entered into 66th year of independence. We can see the development and the so- called urbanization all around. Why is India still an anti- woman state? The figures show an alarming rise in atrocities against women in India. Every 26 minutes a woman is molested, every 34 minutes a woman is raped, every 42 minutes a woman is sexually harassed. Still more alarming is that every 93 minutes a woman is burnt alive for dowry. The December’ 13 gang rape case has been edged in red, in our minds and has brought a great shame to our country. It was rightly said in the movie Fugly, “Delhi is getting fugly out there for women.”
Despite the laurels, the sportswomen win for their nation, they are treated as second class citizens. Sania Mirza’s press statement, criticizing the treatment meted out to her by the All India Tennis Association has touched a raw nerve within the Indian sports fraternity. This mindset is not restricted to India alone. Saudi Arabia sent female athletes to the Olympics for the first time in the summer of 2012, this again shows that sportswomen are doubly discriminated as oddities in a testosterone driven world.
A woman may appear vulnerable; in reality, she is a reservoir of strength and steadfastness. “Behind every successful man, stands a woman”- has been quoted by all great men in their autobiographies.
Scientifically, it is a proven fact that due to the secretion of Estrogen hormones, women have much more capacity to work than men and that too patiently.
Education and empowerment of the women are closely related. A recent World Bank study says, “Educating girls is not charity, it is good economics, and if developing nations are to eradicate poverty, they must educate the girls.” Also, it’s a well said dictum, “Educate a man, you educate one person; educate a woman, you educate the whole family.”
It is to be realised by the Indian politicians that they can no longer ignore the justified demand of reservation for the women in Parliament and State legislatures. Reservation of women is an honest recognition of their contribution to the social development. Michelle Bachelet, executive director of UN Women also quoted- “Decision making bodies should have at least 30% women”, in support of India’s reservation bill.
But can any law cause a change in the mindset? Men have to be sensitized into respecting women as individuals with the freedom to live on their own terms. Mothers have to teach their sons, the lessons of humanity and their daughters, the lessons of self worth and assertion.