Saturday, January 07, 2012

Travesty of Women Empowerment

     When I asked a good friend of mine about her insight on women empowerment, I simply loved her stance. It wasn't a well-theorized one like an experts view, which makes us complex to comprehend the idea! But, it was humble and straightforward instead, which bombarded me with different thoughts.

     "Getting a woman empowered lies in her own hands and in the hands of her society" she said. "A girl's life is invariably influenced by others at all times and remains inert by the clutches of her surroundings.. When we do not have command over our own being, there is no chance of progress" she added. "The will to take up challenges on her way towards development, must comes from her own self at all degrees and her society must encourage her ventures to get empowered". But I'm perplexed because something converse is happening nowadays....   

RIGHT TO CHOICE: Not necessarily!
     In the present modern-'enlightened' era, it is undeniable that our women themselves are ignorant of what empowerment is all about. The will to empower them is not genuine and are misguided by the so called 'feminist approaches'. They tend to adopt several things, almost everythings, that are male-stereotyped and believe that that is the only mean to get empowered in a society which is male chauvinistic. How dressing like a male, especially Jeans and T-shirts, or riding a manual-gear bike make them equivalent to men and endow them their rights? Or do women think that those are their real rights they are deprived of for centuries?? In a classroom discussion on 'Gender sensitivity', a girl came up with an odd question which made me to ponder. "Why women in India who consumes alcoholic drinks are seen with suspicion and hatred and the act of approaching a liquor store to buy alcoholic beverages remains a socially, culturally prohibited and unaccepted, while the very same acts by men are considered functional?" Though she acceded that alcoholism is harmful to both men and women and drinking is itself a social evil, she ascertains that her right to choice is defied. "This is a sort of gender discrimination", she argued. Of course her argument is valid and genuine but I would rather take a different turn.

     Scientific researches say that women develop long-term complications of alcohol dependence more rapidly than men do. The mortality rate from alcoholism is also high in women comparingly. Such complications include brain, heart, and liver damage, increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive dysfunction such as anovulation, decreased ovarian mass, problems or irregularity of the menstrual cycle, early menopause, etc. When the 'mother nature' herself has discriminated women in this regard, why not give-up their 'Right to choice' when the basic rights of several women in the very same society are denied in several fronts?? But it is really disheartening to hear that there is rapidity in increase of women adicted to alcoholism in recent years, especially in IT hotbeds such as Bangalore and Chennai. "If women thinks to find equality and goes to drink, then most of us should run our families in liquor shops" my friend lamented.

     And comes the mockery created by the so called 'IT sector' in this regard, which is rather amusing. Mass employment of women in the service sector with attractive and equitable payment packages, which was a daydream few decades ago, is now a reality in urban areas to be specific. It seems that the MNCs now encourage feminism inside their campuses, corporates in the business processing and outsourcing (BPO) sectors are increasing prefering women while recruiting. This shows a good sign but at what cost? Corporates prefer women mainly because of the fact that they do not protest or agitate usually unlike men. When equitable salary is paid, they are pleased what ever injustices abound. There is a wide prevalence of harassment and violence against women at offices, which is often heared at a minimal or no voice.

     In 1997 Vishaka judgement, the Supreme court of India, for the first time, recognised sexual harassment at the workplace as a violation of human rights and outlined a set of guidelines for the prevention of and redressal of complaints. But very little is known about the extent to which sexual harassment persists, the kinds of action taken against such incidents and whether working women are even aware of such constitutional provisions. But the menace continues to be common occurance at workplace, typically perpetrated by persons of authority. A majority of women do not take action or lodge official complaints for fear of being dismissed, losing their reputation or facing hostility or social stigma. There are immoral and heartless people, especially in cities working in IT companies both men and women, who claim sexual harassment at workplace as "normal" and "harmless". I don't think we can't be that stupid and ridiculous, living in a nation which is itself portrayed as a women!

     It is said that the progress of a nation depends on the status of its women. Imagine, if the household work done by our mothers are calculated monetarily and to be added to the national income, the economic contribution of women in India may even overrun that of mens'. India is 'pro-feme' in its culture and heritage but the real status of women remains poor even today. There is an increasing level awareness and enlightenment on empowering women among us, but such transformations should not lose vigor and misguided. Our women must realise such things and be aware of what they are looking for. And the initiation to fight for injustices must be self-driven, because, I think no one can improve their life and status otherthan themselves!