We often hear that women are doing exceptionally well in every single field, making a difference in the society. But do any of us care to think further and analyze whether this is actually true? Let us get out of this sea of optimism for a minute and check on the world’s facts and figures about the utterly depressing condition of women in places all over the globe. These definitely do not create even a fleeting picture of what we imagined.
An article which I read recently titled “A Life They Did Not Choose” forced me to walk out of the illusory world I had wrapped myself in. Peeking into the Book of Genesis, I found a distinct classification of men and women: that women were punished by God through means of suffering the pain of childbirth and subjection to men. Even according to Confucius, women are considered socially inferior to men. Many other civilizations also follow the same path as the belief systems stated above.
Women, the so-called “inferior and weaker” sex, have stood up and played their part from time to time by demanding their long lost rights, but it seems that somehow the upheavals are always silenced by the dominant and oppressive male chauvinists. Women in some regions of Africa are still utterly vulnerable to sheer violence and genital mutilation. Polygamy to forced sex are not only a violation against women’s basic human rights but also a heavy burden on their health status and their chances in the labor market. Even though China has seen huge upliftment of women, the political system still remains hugely under male domination. In the Middle East,women in general have legal and economic equality in political life, access to education, professional opportunities, and salaries, but child marriage, submission and obedience to men, social rejection in case of divorce, and polygamy are still norms in most Islamic countries. Shedding light on the oldest Indian civilization that has encountered innumerous changes through the centuries from tradition of the dowry, Sati system (where widows jump into their dead husband’s pyre), child marriage, Devadasi (sexual exploitation of widows) to the world of today, I cannot deny that women have come a long way. But the society is still plagued with monstrous evils leading to a huge chunk of the population still living in sheer darkness.
It cannot be denied that a significant percentage of the female population around the world is extremely prone to crimes of all kinds, ranging from physical mutilation to exploitation in day-to-day life, misrepresentation, and denial of appropriate societal status. But as “optimistic” people, we only describe areas in which women have progressed immensely, turning a blind eye to that shelterless 14 year-old girl who might very soon become the victim to violence, exploitation, or social rejection.
As a response to these societal ills, political parties talk about reserving seats in educational and employment institutions to uplift the status of women. For a second, it seems that this will indeed lead to a better representation of the female population; but the very next moment, it creates a chasm in my heart - am I so weak that I need reservations to see myself as a valid part of the society? This question is sure to lurk in the heart of women appointed to a post or given a seat in education institutions based on reservations. It will lead to crumbling self-esteem, and thus annihilation of ambition.
The alteration of the rotting and outdated mentalities comes across to me as the only solution. At present, efforts are being made, but they are not enough because they are being made with opinionated ideas that women are weak, and need protection and representation. The underlying gap will exist as long as we do not change our mind-set. Thus, let us strive to build a world full of opportunities for women where there shall be no fear, and talent and hard work will take hold of the reigns.
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