‘True gender equality will come when people’s mind set changes’
Glancing through the pages of history, we see that women have risen above cultural expectations and wielded tremendous power, thus having made a positive impact on society and the world
as a whole. There have been influential women in every sphere of life, both in the East and the West contributing to the fields of music, literature, politics, science and even philanthropy. Looking at the current scenario, it is apparent that women are taking a lead in the emerging markets.
A large number of highly educated women surging into the labour markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and the United Arab Emirates do boast of better credentials, higher ambitions and greater loyalty quotient. Women have broken the glass ceiling and have entered diverse sectors. In spite of the evident progress of women, there is a lot to be done for the uplift and emancipation of women. The startling fact is that millions of women still dwell in the darkness of ignorance or neglect and therefore need to be empowered to see the light of day.
India has plans and programmes aiming at women’s empowerment. In fact, in the recent past the issue of women’s empowerment has been greatly emphasised to safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women. NGOs have been making tremendous efforts in encouraging initiatives empowering women. But despite these, discrimination against the girl child and women continue to persist in various parts of the country where they have to face harmful customs, gang rapes, sexual harassment, domestic violence and no access to education or work. There appears to be a gulf between the goals and what has been realised towards women’s emancipation.
Women have a great potential to contribute to the political, economic, social, cultural and civil spheres, provided they are given freedom and a positive environment for their full development to realise their potential. The need of the hour is to promote societal awareness about gender issues and women’s human rights. There needs to be a paradigm shift in the perception and mind set of the people.
A woman can be considered as the primary player in laying down the foundational principles of family values and of the society itself. At a recent conference of women world leaders, I was blessed to represent our nation and was amazed at the sheer potential women have to offer. Women have tremendous power provided they believe in their own God-given abilities and talents, have faith in themselves and learn to use them fearlessly to contribute to the world. They are blessed with unique traits such as intuition, courage and persistence.
If constructively exercised, they are extremely valuable and powerful agents of change. In spite of existing barriers, Indian women have carved out a niche in the world while at home they have become proactive in their demand for social justice. The need of the hour is education, learning resolution strategies and support for women which will definitely effect a big change on the society. Education has opened up various avenues for women to rise above the social evils and can be the catalyst of change in the society. Women, on their part, must pursue their goals and develop an intolerance for mediocrity.
Education has indeed given a huge respite to a large number of women to take a lead in enhancing the economy and stimulating growth. Kofi Annan has beautifully said, “There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.”