The way to achieving gender equality
Friday, 10 March 2023 | Dr BKS Sanjay
Dr BKS Sanjay
As done annually, the International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8. Various events like seminars, marches and concerts are organised worldwide to highlight the issues related to women. According to the United Nations, though the world has made unprecedented advances, no country has achieved gender equality. The UN has set a goal for gender equality by 2030.
International Women’s Day is a public holiday in many countries but not in India. We have many public holidays and the policy makers could declare this day too as one. That will be a tribute to the women who make up half of the country’s population. The government of India recognises women’s achievements and honours selected women with Nari Shakti Puraskar which is given on International Women’s Day by the president of India in New Delhi every year since 1999. This award was started by the Women Development and Child Welfare ministry for individual women and institutions working for the cause of women empowerment. This award carries Rs two lakh and a citation. The purpose of this award is to recognise the achievements of the women and to make them self-reliant. It is a general perception in Indian society that women are not equal to males and this award is given to the women to exemplify that women can also contribute in nation building like the men.
India is a country where women are given the status of a goddess. However, the problems they have to face just show the opposite of this concept. Various social evils like no remarriage of widows and child marriages prevail in India. Such treatment makes the women feel inferior and hinder the growth of a country. Things have changed tremendously after independence especially after accessibility to education for all particularly the girls. I personally feel that education has brought tremendous change in society. It has changed the mindset of both the genders. In modern India women face gender discrimination, dowry demand, dowry-related harassment and death, molestation, rape, domestic violence, workplace harassment and sexual abuse. Most of the time some female members of the family are also involved along with men in such discriminatory acts.
Violence against women is one of the biggest issues facing Indian women today. In a study done in India, 26 per cent of the women reported having experienced physical violence from spouses during their lifetime. Violence against women, especially domestic violence, often goes unreported.
Gender discrimination is another major challenge which needs to be addressed in India. India’s under-5 mortality of girls exceeds that of boys, unlike the global trend, according to an UN report. Uttarakhand showed the largest gender gap in under-5 mortality. Part of these deaths includes infant girls, as there is a preference for sons in Indian society. It is not an uncommon practice in India for girls to be deprived of proper healthcare, education, nutrition and vaccinations unlike the treatment given to males.
Every citizen and government must try to make it a safe place for women. Governments must make more stringent laws against people who commit crimes against women. The law must also be implemented properly to ensure everyone takes them seriously.Furthermore, opportunities must be provided equally for men and women. Education must be stressed upon and it must be made compulsory to educate every girl and woman for a better future. Therefore, each one of us must be ready to treat women as equal counterparts. We must help them at every stage and more than that empower them to make their own decisions.
A healthy and educated person can do not only his work but the works of others as well. One calls them dabang men full of confidence as he is healthy and educated. I will add here that our country needs dabang men and women.
According to the Oxford language dictionary ‘Dabang’ means one who is not pushed down, fearless and influential.In my view it means healthy and educated men or women. Education is important in shaping the life of everyone.Education gives employment and employment gives empowerment to individuals.
(A Padma Shri recipient, the author is an orthopaedic surgeon. Views expressed are personal)