Dr. Sumaiya Rafiq Zargar,
“You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women”. This is what Indian premier Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru said several years ago and interestingly the opinion stands valid under all circumstances.
I am sure most of us know women make almost 50% of the total population of the world. Then the question arises that why varied problems related to women are still subsisting; dowry is still prevalent, domestic violence against women is practiced; female infanticide is growing at many places, sexual harassment is still taking place and other heinous crimes like dowry, rape, child marriages are on the rise.
The reason I choose to write on this topic is to highlight the fact that its high time to secure and work professionally for specific legal rights to women and give them a sense of security and empowerment.
Being a Kashmiri female with Kashmiri descent, I am thankful to my parents that I have been fortunate enough to choose my passion. I got the freedom to choose my career in media studies. I choose my lifestyle my way. During my studies in Delhi (India), I was living at a place where communities were mixed i.e. “Middle class, Lower class, and High class”
Even in the modern era, I have witnessed many women who are suffering still. Recalling my stay in Delhi at my residence, every public holiday I would hear a noise coming from the opposite flat where the husband used to beat his wife for getting less dowry. I have witnessed many incidents like marriages in childhood, stepfathers marrying daughters for little money, mothers-in-law deciding to choose if the daughter-in-law should conceive or not, women being divorced due to their bad health, internalized religious or cultural beliefs where men are considered superior, women who were given nothing from the inherit land and property of father/husband and last but not the least parents denying their kids to seek education, their choices as well as employment
As a media professional, I had to be socially active and observe the reactions of the people around me! This might have sometimes looked odd to many as I was asking them too many questions and sometimes just downright crude suggestions. Although, I was curious to understand the nature of human psychology
I was confused that what makes people think that it is only the poverty that affects women’s empowerment. Therefore, I started my research, social networking, and discussions. And I believe that many people still consider women more likely to be inferior than any man. I have experienced the fact where girls are still less likely to be treated to the same level as their brothers, and they often have to deal hard with the additional risks of violence and hardships to gain their essential requirements.
I would say that it is high time for serious efforts from every corner i.e. Parents, World leaders, Civil societies, Volunteers, Religious preachers, etc. to empower the women sector. It is particularly important to understand that empowerment of girls should start from home itself. Girls should be given the freedom to express themselves, they should be given proper education, and their economic security and stability should be kept safe.
Parents should understand that education plays an important role in empowering women and it also helps them to have control over their brains and finances. At the same time, educational institutions, religious preachers must guide them to understand the lobby of their rights from the beginning. It is also important to encourage and support them to express their feelings, their choices through community development programs which should be organized by proper agencies and have an eye on them from birth till death. This will not only ensure them about their safety and security, but it will also help them to make choices in their lives.
I believe that every woman deserves the right to control their bodies, their reproduction, their finances, their health and to have an equal say in their communities and the decisions that affect themselves and their families. With this let me be clear many countries claim to provide the means to improve the lives of women. For that matter, some specific laws are formed as well. Not going anywhere far let me take the example of India laws like “The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987, The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. The Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994., The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Protection,) Act, 2013” we’ll all these laws are enacted by the Parliament to fulfill the Constitutional obligation of women empowerment. Even the schemes like “Beti Bacho Beti Pado, Swashakti, STEP and Swawlamban, Working Women Hostels and Creches are in place but unfortunately, serious efforts are not in place.
To me, every single human starting from Parents, Govt, NGOs, enlightened civil society, are equally responsible to work with serious efforts then only the world can be a happy place for women to live in. Every mankind must understand that women are the blessings from God, a source of human existence in the form of Mother, Sister, Friend, and wife who deserve love, respect, care, and happiness.