Asima Chatterjee- First Indian Woman to Earn a Doctorate in Science

India has always put a feather on the cap when it comes to its contribution to the field of science and development. Throughout history, it is evident that along with men, Indian women too have been prominent contributors to science. One such great personality in the field of science was Ms. Asima Chatterjee

Prof. Asima Chatterjee was born in 1917 in Calcutta, British India. In spite of the regressive ideologies people possessed for women back then, Chatterjee’s family was extremely supportive of her education and encouraged her to be an academic. Her father was very interested in botany and Chatterjee shared in his interest. She graduated with honors in chemistry from the Scottish Church College of the University of Calcutta in 1936.

Asima Chatterjee received a master’s degree (1938) and a doctorate (1944) in organic chemistry from the University of Calcutta’s Raja bazar Science College campus, making her the first Indian woman to earn a doctoral degree in the field of science. She was acknowledged as the Doyenne of Chemistry. She specialized in synthetic organic chemistry and plant products as part of her doctoral research. Her research was directed by Professor Prafulla Kumar Bose, one of the pioneers in natural product chemistry in India. she was also inspired by the doyens of Indian science, like Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray, Professor Prafulla Chandra Mitra, and Professor Janendra Nath Mukherjee, who influenced her career as a natural product scientist. In addition, she had research experience from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Caltech with László Zechmeister. Chatterjee’s research focused on natural products chemistry and led to the development of anti-convulsive, anti-malarial, and chemotherapy drugs. She made significant contributions in the field of medicinal chemistry with special reference to alkaloids, coumarins and terpenoids, analytical chemistry, and mechanistic organic chemistry over a period of 40 years. Her work led to the development of an epilepsy drug called Ayush-56 and several anti-malarial drugs.

She published around 400 papers in national and international journals and more than a score of review articles in reputed serial volumes. In addition to many citations in her work, much of it has been included in several textbooks.

She has won several prestigious awards such as the S S Bhatnagar award, the C V Raman award, and the P C Ray award; and is the recipient of the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award, in recognition of her contributions to the field of science. In addition to these accolades, she was also the first woman to be elected as the General President of the Indian Science Congress, a premier institution that oversees research in science. She was also nominated by the President of India as a Member of the Rajya Sabha from February 1982 to May 1990.

On the request of the late Professor Satyendra Nath Bose, FRS, she wrote Sarai Madhyamic Rasayan, a book in Bengali on chemistry for secondary school students, published by Bangiya Bijnan Parishad, an Institute for the Popularisation of Science founded by SN Bose himself.

In an era where people saw women as mere “property” that belonged to her husband, she rose to earn a name for herself. Due to her impeccable contribution to the field of science, she is truly an inspiration to many young girls. Being one of a kind, her achievements will be lauded for many more years to come.

Women Empowerment

Nowadays Women Empowerment is one of the most important topic to discuss. In this modern era womens needs to become empower. Todays women can do every job which a men can do.

Definition of Women Empowerment

Women empowerment is often defined in some ways; it means accepting and allowing womens to take their decision, giving them education, and empower them to fly them as much as they can fly towards success.

It is the process that makes power in individuals womens. over their own lives, society, and in their communities. People are empowered once they are ready to access the opportunities available to them without limitations and restrictions like in education, profession, and lifestyle.

Feeling entitled to form your own decisions creates a way of empowerment. Women empowerment includes the action of raising the status of girls through education, raising awareness, literacy, and training.

Women empowerment is all about equipping and allowing women to form life-determining decisions through the various problems in society.

Economic Women Empowerment

Economic women empowerment increases women’s agency, access to formal government programs, mobility outside the house, financial independence, and buying power. Policymakers are suggested to support job training to assist in entrance within the legal markets.

One recommendation is to supply more formal education opportunities for ladies that might leave higher bargaining power within the home. They might have more access to higher wages outside the house; and, as a result, make it easier for ladies to urge employment within the market.

Strengthening women’s access to property inheritance and land rights is another method wont to empower women economically. This can allow them better means of asset accumulation, capital, and bargaining power needed to deal with gender inequalities.

Often, women in developing and underdeveloped countries are legally restricted from their land on the only basis of gender.

Having a right to their property gives women a kind of bargaining power that they would not usually have; successively, they gain more opportunities for economic independence and formal financial institutions.

Microfinance institutions aim for women empowerment in their community by giving them access to loans that have low-interest rates without the need for collateral. More specifically, the microfinance institutions aim to offer micro-credit to women who want to be entrepreneurs.

Some critiques claim that microcredit alone doesn’t guarantee women have control over the way the loan is employed. Microfinance doesn’t relieve women of household obligations, and albeit women have credit, they do not have the time to be as active within the market as men.

Political Women Empowerment

Political empowerment supports creating policies that might best support gender equality and agency for ladies in both the general public and personal spheres.

Popular methods that are suggested are to make social action policies that have a quota for the number of girls in politics and parliament positions.

As of 2017, the worldwide average of girls who hold lower and single house parliament positions is 23.6 percent. Further recommendations are to extend women’s rights to vote, voice opinions, and, therefore, the ability to run an office with a good chance of being elected.

 

Nowadays Women Empowerment is one of the most important topic to discuss. In this modern era womens needs to become empower. Todays women can do every job which a men can do.

Definition of Women Empowerment

Women empowerment is often defined in some ways; it means accepting and allowing womens to take their decision, giving them education, and empower them to fly them as much as they can fly towards success.

It is the process that makes power in individuals womens. over their own lives, society, and in their communities. People are empowered once they are ready to access the opportunities available to them without limitations and restrictions like in education, profession, and lifestyle.

Feeling entitled to form your own decisions creates a way of empowerment. Women empowerment includes the action of raising the status of girls through education, raising awareness, literacy, and training.

Women empowerment is all about equipping and allowing women to form life-determining decisions through the various problems in society.

Economic Women Empowerment

Economic women empowerment increases women’s agency, access to formal government programs, mobility outside the house, financial independence, and buying power. Policymakers are suggested to support job training to assist in entrance within the legal markets.

One recommendation is to supply more formal education opportunities for ladies that might leave higher bargaining power within the home. They might have more access to higher wages outside the house; and, as a result, make it easier for ladies to urge employment within the market.

Strengthening women’s access to property inheritance and land rights is another method wont to empower women economically. This can allow them better means of asset accumulation, capital, and bargaining power needed to deal with gender inequalities.

Often, women in developing and underdeveloped countries are legally restricted from their land on the only basis of gender.

Having a right to their property gives women a kind of bargaining power that they would not usually have; successively, they gain more opportunities for economic independence and formal financial institutions.

Microfinance institutions aim for women empowerment in their community by giving them access to loans that have low-interest rates without the need for collateral. More specifically, the microfinance institutions aim to offer micro-credit to women who want to be entrepreneurs.

Some critiques claim that microcredit alone doesn’t guarantee women have control over the way the loan is employed. Microfinance doesn’t relieve women of household obligations, and albeit women have credit, they do not have the time to be as active within the market as men.

Political Women Empowerment

Political empowerment supports creating policies that might best support gender equality and agency for ladies in both the general public and personal spheres.

Popular methods that are suggested are to make social action policies that have a quota for the number of girls in politics and parliament positions.

As of 2017, the worldwide average of girls who hold lower and single house parliament positions is 23.6 percent. Further recommendations are to extend women’s rights to vote, voice opinions, and, therefore, the ability to run an office with a good chance of being elected.Because women are typically related to child care and domestic responsibilities within the home, they need less time dedicated to entering the labor market and running their business.

Policies that increase their bargaining power within the household would come with policies that account for cases of divorce, policies for better welfare for ladies, and policies that give women control over resources (such as property rights).

However, participation isn’t limited to the realm of politics. It can include participation within the household, in schools, and, therefore, the ability to form choices for oneself.

Some theorists believe that bargaining power and agency within the home must be achieved before one can move onto broader political participation.

Barriers of Women Empowerment

Many ladies feel these pressures, while others became familiar with being treated inferior to men. Albeit legislators, NGOs, etc. are conscious of the Women empowerment.

Participation can have, many are frightened of disrupting the status of the ladies and still let societal norms get within the way of development.

Research shows that increasing access to the web also can end in the increased exploitation of girls. Releasing personal information on websites has put some women’s safety in danger.

In 2010, Working to Halt Online Abuse stated that 73% of girls were victimized through such sites. Sorts of victimization include cyber stalking, harassment, online pornography, and flaming. Harassment especially can be a significant barrier for ladies within the workplace.

It appears in most industries but is most notable within the following: business, trade, banking and finance, sales and marketing, hospitality, government officials, and education, lecturing, and teaching. This is a manifestation of unequal power relations between men and ladies.

Furthermore, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All sorts of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is urging for increased measures of protection for ladies against harassment and violence within the workplace. 54% (272) had experienced some sort of workplace harassment. Recent studies also show that ladies face more barriers within the workplace than do men.

When taking the median earnings of men and ladies who worked full-time, year-round, government data from 2014 showed that ladies made $0.79 for each dollar a person earned. The typical earnings for working mothers came bent even less—$0.71 for each dollar a father made, consistent with a 2014 study conducted by the National Partnership for ladies and youngsters.

While much of the general public discussion of the “wage gap” has focused around women getting equal buy an equivalent work as their male peers, many ladies struggle with what’s called the “pregnancy penalty.”

The most problem is that it’s challenging to live, but some experts say that the likelihood of getting a baby is often enough for employers to push women back from their line. Therefore, women are put during a position where they have to form the choice of whether to take care of within the workforce or have children. This problem has sparked the talk over maternity leave within us and lots of other countries within the world.

Role of Education in Empowering Women

It is said that education increases “people’s self confidence and also enable them to seek out better jobs and that they can work shoulder to shoulder with men.” They engage in debate and demand for social security, health care, and other entitlements to the government. Especially, education empowers women to form choices that improve their children’s health, their well-being, and their chances of survival. Education informs others of preventing and containing the disease, and it’s an essential element of efforts to scale back malnutrition. Furthermore, it empowers women to form choices that will improve their welfare, including marrying beyond childhood and having fewer children. Crucially, education can increase women’s awareness of their rights, boost their self-esteem, and supply them the chance to say their rights.

Despite significant improvements in recent decades, education isn’t universally available, and gender inequalities persist. A serious concern in many countries isn’t only the limited numbers of women getting to school but also the limited educational pathways for people who step into the classroom.

More specifically, there should be more efforts to deal with the lower participation and learning achievement of women in science, technology, engineering, and arithmetic (STEM) education.

Internet and Women Empowerment


The growing access of the online within the late 20th century has allowed women to empower themselves by using various tools on the web.

With the introduction of the planet Wide Web, women have begun to use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter for online activism. In recent years, blogging has also become a strong tool for the tutorial empowerment of girls.

Consistent with a study done by the University of California, l. a. , medical patients who read and write on their disease are often during a much happier mood and more knowledgeable than those that don’t.

With the straightforward accessibility and affordability of e-learning (electronic learning), women can now study from the comfort of their homes. By learning to educate themselves through new technologies like e-learning, women also are learning new skills that will be handy in today’s advancing globalized world.

Ongoing Projects for Empowering Women

The UN came out with a group of goals called the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, to assist make the planet a far better place. Of the 17, the fourth goal works to permit access to education for all people alike. An outsized effort has been made to incorporate women in schools to raise their education.

Similarly, the fifth goal focuses on empowering women and girls to realize gender equality through equal access to varied sorts of opportunities (health care, education, work, etc.).

Conclusion

After reading this article we can conclude that without women empowerment no nation can become succesful and development. Also it is the right of every women to live their life in their own way.

Women empowerment also helps womens to learn more and more things from society and to become strong in her life. It helps here in every steps of her life like study, career, marriage, as a mother and more.

Woman of steel

India in the early 1800s was a place of riot, extortion and was trapped under the unsympathetic British rule. Being one of the richest country for spices and hard earned labour, the Indians not living under royalty were suppressed under the British rulers, even leading to the death of many. In times that hold importance of freedom, a young woman in her teens made a decision to change the world from wrong doings and eradicate the biased rule of another country over India. Rani Lakshmi Bai, a soul filled with patriotism and love for the country, stood up and fought with all her will to sustain a free Hindustan.

The Queen of Jhansi was born on 18th November 1828 in Varanasi. Since her childhood she was trained and taught to be a warrior and an independent woman to live on freely and to dream of an ‘Azaad’ Bharat. She was educated not only in her native languages but in English as a foreign language. Her maiden name was Manikarnika, which later after her marriage was known as Rani Lakshmi Bai. Manikarnika lost her mother at a young age and her responsibility entirely fell upon her Father, Moropant Tambe. He trained her for becoming the best version of herself by teaching her the importance of martial arts, horse riding, sword fighting, as well as shooting.

In the year 1842, Manikarnika married the King of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar. On getting married into Jhansi, she was given the title of Rani Lakshmi Bai as a token of respect and honour to the new Queen of Jhansi. Being the Queen of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmi Bai couldn’t tolerate the cruelty of the British on poor Indians and setting them under their foot, to make a division between the elite and the common people of Jhansi. Crime and injustice against the people of Jhansi increased day by day, with the growth in death, either due to murder or suicide.

In the year 1851, Rani Lakshmi Bai gave birth to her son but within the period of four months, she lost him to illness. Thereafter, along with her husband, she decided to adopt a son for the future of Jhansi, for an heir to follow his father’s footsteps as Raja Gangadhar Rao was falling sick by every increasing day. Leading to this, in the year 1853, the Raja and Rani adopted a boy, Damodar Rao. Later in the year, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar passed away and set the journey for Rani Lakshmi Bai to sit in his throne and lead Jhansi to its glorious future.

The British wanted Jhansi under their rule completely, and a woman ruling the kingdom only boosted their ego and insecurities. Rani Lakshmi Bai got a notice by one of the British officer, Major Ellis to evacuate and handover Jhansi to the British. Infuriated by this act, Rani Lakshmi Bai said her famous words, “Meri Jhansi Nahi Dungi.” With this spirit, she fought for the freedom of Jhansi and ripped it off of the British rule.

The battle for freedom and survival started three years after with a huge massacre on the palace of Jhansi in the midst of the night, in order to capture the Queen as commanded by Sir Hugh Rose. Lakshmi Bai and her soldiers fought bravely against the surprised attack. As Jhansi was attacked terribly, the Queen of Jhansi, tied her son to her back and rode on a horse till she reached Kelpi. The Peshwa understood the situation and helped her with an army of her own. This was a stepping stone for all the woman inspired and taught by Rani Lakshmi Bai for a better world and a brighter future. With the upcoming war, woman were made warriors to fight against the injustice caused by the British.

On the day of the battle, Rani Lakshmi Bai fought with fire in her veins and courage in her blood. She fought till her last breath and created history by burning herself on the battle field so no Englishmen could touch her even after death. Rani Lakshmi Bai, a true warrior Queen inspired millions across the country and even today she lights the hearts of every woman who have to fight their own battles of bravery and sacrifice. As it is rightfully said, “Khoob ladi Mardani, Jhansi ki Rani”.

FEMALE FOETICIDE

INTRODUCTION

Women are murdered all over the world. But in India a most brutal of killing female takes place regularly, even before they have the opportunity to be born. Female foeticide , the selective abortion of female fetuses is killing upwards of one million females in India annually with far ranging and tragic consequences. In some areas, the sex ratio of females to males has dropped to less than 8000:1000. Females not only face inequality in this culture, they are even denied the right to be born. Why do so many families selectively abort baby daughters? In a word: economics. Aborting female fetuses is both practical and socially acceptable in India. Female foeticide is driven by many factors, but primarily by the prospect of having to pay a dowry to the feature bridegroom of a daughter. While sons offer security to their families in old age and can perform the rites for the souls of deceased parents and ancestors, daughters are perceived as a social and economic burden. Prenatal sex detection technologies have been misused, allowing the selective abortions of female offspring to proliferate. Legally, however, female foeticide is a penal offence. Although. Female infanticide has long been committed in India , foeticide is a relatively new practice, emerging concurrently with the advent of technological advancements in prenatal sex determination on a large scale in the 1990s. While abortion is legal in India, it is a crime to abort a pregnancy solely because the fetus is female. Strict laws and penalties are in place for violators. These laws, however, have not stemmed tide of this abhorrent practice.

See the source image

 CAUSES OF FEMALE FOETICIDE

Female feticide has been practice foe periods especially for the families who have a preference only male child. Several religious, social, financial and emotional are the reason for female foeticide. Therefore the time has been changed how much However, many reasons and beliefs are ongoing in some families. Some main reason for female foeticide are:

Generally, parents don’t want a girl baby because they have to give a big amount as a dowry at daughters marriage.

There is a faith that girls are always consumer and boys are the only producers. This parents understand that son will earn money for the whole life and care their parents however girls will get married a day and will have a separate family.

There is a belief that the son will carry the name of the family in future however the girl has to Carry the husband’s family.

This is a prestige issue in society for parent and grandparent to have a boy baby in the family besides having a daughter.

There is a stress on the new bride of the family to give birth to male child so she is enforced to go for sex recognition and abort if girl baby.

Illiteracy, insecurity and poverty of people in society are also major reasons for girl baby burden.

JUDICIAL RESPONSES

Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themed v Union Of India –

The petition was filed by an NGO and Social activist Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT) a research centre of Anusandhan Trust based in Pune and Mumbai and others filed this writ petition against a social evil-female feticide very much prevailing in our society.

DECISION : in a response to the petition, the court issued in notice to the central and state governments to file replies to central government. The central sepervisory board, state Governments under the administration. And to appoint appropriate authorities at district and sub district level. Directions stated that the list of the members appointed should be published in the print and electronic media. Appropriate authorities were further directed to send a quarterly report to the central supervisory board. Public awareness against the practice of prenatal sex determination.

Supreme court directed state governments to take further steps to enforce the law and the secretary. Department of family welfare was directed to file an affidavit indicating the status of actions taken. Supreme court directed 9 companies to supply the information of the machines sold to various clinics in the last 5 years. Details of about 11,200 machines from all these companies and fed into commion data base. Addresses received from the manufacturers were also sent to concerned states and to launch prosecution against those bodies using ultrasound machines that had filed yo get themselves registered under the act. The court directed that the ultrasound machine/scanners be sealed and seized if they were being used without registration. Three associations viz., The Indian Medical Association [IMA], Indian Radiologist Association [IRA], and the Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Societies of India [FOGS] were asked to furnish details of the members using these machines. Since the supreme court directive 99 cases were registered and in 232 cases ultrasound machines, other equipment and records were seized. Today there is an estimated 2509 ultrasound machines in the country, of these 15000 have been registered. State governments havve communicated to the central government in writing the according to official reports received, they are satisfied that sex determination services are no longer being provided in their respective states.

However, it is widely believed thaat while these services are no longer openly available their clandestine availability and utilization continues all over the country. The observation of the National inspection and Monitoring Commission confirm this situation and endorse the need for stricter enforcement of laws.

Impact of female foeticide on the sex ratio

 ratio denotes the ratio of females to male in a specific region. Many practices like female foeticide and female infanticide ( killing a baby girl after her birth) have been had a contrary influence on the sex ratio. Thus it rises and promotes many social evils.

As per the decennial Indian census, Sex ratio of India is 107.48. It means 197.48 males per 100 females in 2019. Therefore India has 930 females per 1000 males. So, India has 48.20%female population compare to 51.80% male population

EFFECTIVE MEASURES TO CONTROL

Some measures are:

1. There should be registration of all the nursing homes and rigorous action should be taken against the defaulters.

2. Government must deploy national wide campaign to spread cognizance among the people. They should aware the people about the importance of girls and should not consider them as stigma to their families.

3. More reservation should be given to the girls in education. Government should provide financial support to those families who are not able to educate their children. Proper measures should be taken to implement anti dowry law and culprits should be punished. Government should provide financial support for the marriage of girls belonging to poor families.

4. Emphasis should be given to women empowerment. Women education will help in eradicating this problem. As the women will become independent, they can take decision according to their volition.

5. There is a need of remove the myth of sin preference from our society only then this problem can be tackled.

LAWS

1. The constitution of India, 1950

Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 read wIth the Medical termination of pregnancy Act, 1971 where all the restrictions imposed therein, including the time limit of 20 weeks, other than the ones to ensure good medical conditions, infringe the right to abortion and the right to health, which emanate from right to life as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Right to abortion is a species of right to privacy, which is again proclaimed a continuance of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

2. The Indian Penal Code, 1860

Sections 312-316 of the Indian Penal Code deak with the miscarriage and death of an unborn child aand depending on the severity and intention with which the crime is committed , the penalties range from seven years of imprisonment and fine to life imprisonment

3. The medical termination of pregnancy Act, 1971

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 was conceived as a tool to let the pregnant women decide on the number and frequency of children. It further gave them the right to decide on having or not having the child. However, this good intentioned steo was being misused to force women to abort the female child. In order to do away with the lacunE inherent in previous legislation, the Pre- natal Diagnostic Techniques ( regulations and prevention of Misuse) Act was passed in sex of the foetus and stipulated punishment for the violation of provisions thereof. It also provided for mandatory registration of genetic counseling centers, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, etc

POINT OF VIEW

These unscrupulous murders of female or girls is justified on two grounds. First, it reduces the population and second is that ghe loor parents will be saved from the expamses which thay would have to incur in the marriage of their daughter if she had born. So the murder of a female foetus is considered to be a solution to two major problems i.e. population problem and dowry. But how far are thse grounds justified . India was the first country to adopt family planning as an official programme to reduce the birthrate. But population of the country is still growing. One of the reasons for the growth of population in India is the desure for a son

Today the sex determination tests have provided an easy way out to know whether or not a woman will get a son

None of the arguments given in favour of the continuance of sex determination tests holds good. It is true that people should have every right to plan their families. If a man has a daughter and he wants son let have it. But difficulty lies if he wants son only. How far is correct to permit him to do do. The sex determination test is used to destroy the female foetus than to control the number of children or to have a child of the sex of one’s choice. In India the choice is always male child and it is the female only that is unwanted child.

CONCLUSION

“Yatra Naranthya Pujyathe Raman The Tatra Devatha” has been our culture. In our country a girl is worshiped as a Devi on one hand and denied ger existence on the other as if she has no right to live. Time has perhaps come for us to get rid of male chauvinism and treat children as gifts of nature regardless of their gender. We cannot imagine a society in the future where there will be only males and no females. The society will be full of crimes and evils. Only if legislations enacted in this behalf are not sufficient. Orthodox views regarding women need to be changed. The PNDT Act should penalize and punish the violators of this crime strictly. The pernicious acts of females foeticide and coercive abortions have to end before women becomes endangered species.

REFERENCES

1. Manjeet Rathe, Eradicate scourge of female Foeticide, people’s Democracy, vol xxv, no. 39

2. Manmeet kaur, female foeticide: A Sociological Perspective, the journal of Family Welfare, vol39(1), March 1993

3. Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques ( Regulations and Prevention of Misuse) Act 1994

4. Supreme Court On Women Justice by Prof. Satish C. Shastri

5. Indiankanoon.org

Why Mothers are supposed to be Selfless?

Why Mothers are supposed to be Selfless?

During the high wave of covid in India, someone shared a picture of a women cooking while wearing a nebulizer attached to oxygen support. The picture triggered debates on twitter.

Our culture sings of mothers thus they possess the highest esteem a woman may ever have. Goddesses are worshipped as mothers on a huge scale. But the same culture and the people associated barely give support to mothers in the practical ways.

It took long for our government to realize their sexist policy allowed only women employees of the central government organizations to avail child care leaves. The idea of motherhood implying to adjustments and sacrifices has been reinforced generations after generations in some form or the other. While women are the birth-givers naturally, the idea of women and especially mothers being the exclusive caregivers is just a widely accepted social norm. The idea of caring and nice women is so intense that most of the girls are socially engineered to be convinced that caregiving is their highest moral duty.

While caring and sacrificing for another makes us human and this needs to be cultivated but not when they are expected exclusively from one gender in service of the other. Also childcare and domestic duties which are often seen as ‘women’s duties’ should never be carried out at the cost of their own aspirations and freedom. The traits of being nice and caring are not a part of the female DNA but they are developed knowingly and unknowingly by the society. The society requires all girls and women to be feminine. But neither all females are feminine nor all feminine are females. Women are praised to be feminine so that they can be feminine. Every mother might not be convinced to be the only caregiver for her child. A women may not like to take care of the family’s domestic chores. And these ideas need to be normalized.

Women and Indian Politics

Women and Indian Politics

The age old social norms suggest women of the elite class society to take care of the domestic chores in the most efficient manner while the men actively participate in the politics.

Many women have set examples by breaking these norms while indirectly and sometimes directly participating in politics in the history. Draupadi actively participated in the discussions regarding whether to go for war or not. In ancient Tamil Snagam poetry gives evidences of women ambassadors, advisors, bodyguards and even throne guards in the under the Chola rule. Centuries apart in Mughal India wives and mothers of the Nawabs played significant roles in the political sphere. Queen of Jhansi played a very significant role in the 1857 revolt against British rule in India. In the nineteenth century when British annexed the kingdom of Awadh, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah fled to Calcutta to seek help while his wife Begum Hazrat Mahal stayed there and challenged the British.

Although women played indirect roles in policy making and diplomacy they had few opportunities in official active politics. This changed around the time of independence of India. From 1929 onwards women were granted the right to vote under British rule but this was enjoyed by very few of them often from the elite classes. The nationalist movement enabled nationalist feminists like Sarojini Naidu, Herabai Tata and Mithan Lam to raise their voice for greater participation of women in politics including their right to vote. It was only after the independence that all women of the country enjoyed the right to vote. Female leaders also participated actively in the discussions regarding policy making for independent India and many issues like age of consent, child marriage etc.

The right to vote includes women into politics but does not ensure their active participation in leadership roles. Even today women make up only 13 per cent of the Indian parliament while the global average ranges around 20 to 25 per cent. Its been 25 years since the bill for 33 per cent reservation for women in the parliament was introduced but it is yet to be passed. Most regional and national political parties give only 20 per cent MP and MLA tickets to women. The current situation is the result of an age old belief and mindsets based on the belief that only men are capable of being great leaders. This way of thinking is being passed on since generations as it is reinforced from a very young age. Research has shown that in low income households, while young boys are pushed into school, sports and debates etc. in order to help them develop the necessary leadership skills young girls are often made to drop school and help in the domestic chores. In colleges and universities the union and presidential roles are often filled up by men while women choose to stay away from politics having focus on study. The notion of politibs being a ‘dirty’ domain makes most families keep their girls away from it. Women politicians are far more prone to derogatory public remarks about their appearances, merit, ways of expression etc. than other female celebrities. A large scale study shows that every one in five tweets for female politicians is abusive.

Studies have shown that more involvement of women in politics actually enhances the governance in numerous ways including emphasis on long term development by focusing on primary healthcare and education, better cooperation amongst political parties and increasing responsiveness towards citizens’ needs. Maybe its time we challenge the patriarchal mindset and let every potential leader to have equal opportunity.

Why Dowry is popular in India

Why Dowry is popular in India

Around eight thousand dowry related deaths are reported in India every year and the real number could be even higher as many cases are not reported at all.

Practice of dowry may bring severe consequences including violence, sex-selective abortion and female infanticide. Research shows that in 1980s when international gold prices inflated mortality of females also increased in India. Often the financial decisions of households depend upon dowry as research has shown that the estimated value of dowry is equal to the annual income of the family. This leads to families with daughters saving up their resources for dowry which otherwise could have been invested elsewhere.

But the idea and practice of dowry is not limited only in India. This practice was common in Europe in the medieval period. The current financial capital of India, then known as Bombay was gifted to the British Crown by the Portuguese as a part of dowry of Queen Catherine of Braganza in 1661.

The practice of dowry decreased in Europe along with the economic development but on the contrary it hiked up in India. Data shows that almost 40 per cent of marriages were reported with dowry in 1940 which increased to 90 per cent by the year 2000.

There are several theories about the origin of dowry. One of such theory says daughters were given away to the in-laws along with money as women didn’t had any legal rights on their family’s property. Hence dowry served as a compensation given to the woman. But with time the concept evolved and the current practice of dowry can be equated to the practice of groom price where the value of dowry is determined by the market value of the groom. This so-called value of groom is determined by factors like education, job type, salary, caste etc. This concept of groom price is contrary to the bride price practice which was common in parts of south India and is still existent in northeast India where the groom’s family pays a certain amount to the bride’s family as a compensation for her work. Research shows that the practice of bride price hasn’t changed much over the years but dowry has seen a significant increase inspite of many activists like Satya Rani Chadha protesting against this malpractice since years.

There are several theories explaining the increase in the dowry practice. The most significant of them are the theory of Sanskritisation proposed by famous sociologist M. N. Srinivas which says that dowry was prevalent only in upper castes but as several lower castes started to adopt practices of upper castes in order to increase their status, dowry became a common practice. Another such theory by Siwan Anderson indicates economic development leading to cross-caste competetion as the main reason of increase in dowry. Theory by Gaurav Chiplunkar says relative groom quality has increased over the years as mostly men got educated and pursued better jobs hence families are forced to give dowry. And the cycle can break when potential brides are educated and financially independent.

Considering the developments in India over the recent years women are still a small proportion of workforce despite women outperforming men in many cases during education. NSS report of 2014 shows that about 60 per cent of women said they had to do all the domestic work(unpaid) due to the reason ‘no other member to carry out the domestic duties’.

Such problems often require creative solutions. There have been laws against dowry since decades and little did they affect the practice in reality. Women need to be educated and provided with economic opportunities to counter the relative hike in groom quality. Surveys have shown that promoting rural manufacturing and improving transport infrastructure tend to increase women’s participation in the workforce in rural parts of the country. Punishments to all families practicing dowry isn’t the perfect solution, change in the mindset of the society is the real way to do away with this age old malpractice.

Women empowerment

Amongst covid-19 pandemic, 2021 budget has potential to increase women labor force participation up to 2 percent this year.

Nirmala Sitaraman, Minister of finance, the government of

India shared that budget 2021 has the potential to increase the employment of

women. COVID-19 pandemic had disproportionately impacted women

forcing them to drop out of the workforce. The women labor force participation according to the center comes down from 25 percent to 21 percent, due to job loss by women. In urban India only 12 out of every 100 still employed are women, a shocking

statistic, down from the already low 18. No doubt the covid 19 pandemics have resulted in many challenges such as pay disparities and expensive child care is an economic downturn that hit women workers measurably harder than men. Whenever the economy shrinks people lose jobs, then look for another job but women aren’t sitting it out so much as being pushed out by disproportionate job loss, 

lack of child care, pay disparities, and lack of public policy to support working women. women with children are much more likely to report that working from home has hurt their productivity and affected their careers  .there are three drivers of increased women labor force participation 1.Jobs that exist in locations where the woman has family support.2) Contemporary and new skilling (like digital marketing, for instance) that allows for marketability3) A government mandate that enables small businesses to be rewarded for hiring more women. The allowance of women to work in all shifts is a move towards reducing the gender divide brought in by COVID-19. This will help industries such as IT and BPO in Special Economic Zone’s, manufacturing companies in sectors such as Textiles, Pharma- as well as large organizations with a national presence. The textile industry, one of India’s ancient industries that employ the largest numbers of women has received a big stimulus with the announcement of seven Textile Parks. The third aspect which would allow small businesses to be rewarded for hiring women has not seen any pull in any of the budgets presented in the few last years. Large organizations in metropolitan cities have already bought the business case for both genders that led to women’s employment being enhanced. It is the 2 and 3 level metropolitan cities and towns that need the influence of involvement. And this is where there is a large population of women – educated, career-seeking, and yet unable to earn

reasonable money due to the non-availability of jobs matching their aspirations. As per data, young women in the age group of 20-24 across urban locales, are more interested in being employed than similar-aged women in rural India. As such, this is a very important talent pool, waiting to be engaged. The BPO and micro-enterprises in these locations will require a stimulus to engage women more proactively. Had the budget addressed this, by providing a bit small, yet encouraging a sum of money to employers of women, India would have seen a jump in women’s job creation to almost double-digit increases, which will have a multiplier effect on the economy.

EQUALITY

Gender equality is a human right first and foremost. A woman has the right to live in dignity, free from hunger and fear. Women’s empowerment is also a critical strategy for achieving development and alleviating poverty. Women who are empowered increase the health and productivity of their families and communities, as well as the chances for future generations.

Discrimination against women and girls remains the most pervasive and persistent form of inequality, including gender-based violence, economic discrimination, reproductive health disparities, and harmful traditional practises. During and after humanitarian emergencies, particularly armed conflicts, women and girls face enormous hardship.

They typically have less access to medical care, property ownership, credit, training, and employment than men do. They are far less likely than men to be politically active and far more likely to be victims of domestic violence.

Equality between men and women exists when both sexes are able to share equally in the distribution of power and influence; have equal opportunities for financial independence through work or through setting up businesses; enjoy equal access to education and the opportunity to develop personal ambitions.

The first step towards women empowerment is educating a girl child. It is said that when you educate a woman, you educate the whole society. With good education, girls can get high paying jobs and consequently wage gaps could be lowered. Increased health awareness prevents early pregnancy and malnutrition. When women have more freedom, they can involve in unexplored areas like politics.

How did Covid-19 affect the women employment?

A Study by Azim Premji University’s senior research fellow Rosa Abraham, associate professor Amit Basole and assistant professor Surbhi Kesar.
Image Source: koppr

Since the beginning of this pandemic, several companies are facing loss. Some of the companies and small scale industries have even terminated their productions. Even the largest of the Global economies are hit severely by this pandemic.

To solve this economic crises companies have been performing lay-outs. People who are no more required are getting laid out and losing their jobs. But what is interesting to see in this time is how this virus has affected the gender neutrality not only in India but globally.

Both the men and the women continue to lose their jobs in this national lockdown. But it seems that this pandemic has more adversely affected the jobs of women than men. Women account for about 39% of the global employment and 54% of the overall job losses. Globally the rate of women losing their jobs is 1.8 times more than that of the men. In India, there were 7 times more women who lost their jobs than men. But what is more striking is unlikeliness of women to return to the jobs is 11 times higher compared to men.

The lifting of lockdown restrictions was associated with a return to work but the recovery was more muted for women. Prior to the pandemic, about 70% of working age men were employed. By August – September 2020, 88% of them remained employed or returned to work. By contrast, of 10% of working age women who were employed before the pandemic, only 53% remained employed or returned to work by August – September 2020.

While there was a high job loss seen in the organized sector, the job loss wasn’t seen in the unorganized sector. Highly educated women were more vulnerable to lose their jobs. Education had its negative impact on the employment of women. ‘It is possible that relatively more educated women are able to withdraw from the workforce in face of uncertain conditions such as the lockdown, while this option might not be available to less educated women’, A research paper ‘Down and Out? The Gendered Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on India’s Labour Market’ presented in its observation. It also suggested that women did not have typical ‘fallback’ options in the terms of employment.

Some of the reasons are as follows:

  • Married women were less likely to return to work than married men.
  • Women from large households followed the same unlikeliness.
  • The social norms were again revoked due to the pandemic which resulted in this inequality.
  • The unappreciated household burden plays a vital role in the same.

A study showed that the difference created in the gender might take more than 135 years to recover. Women need to stand up for themselves. Husbands need to share the household burden of their wives. There can be simple steps which we can take to improve the condition of women in our country because as our Former Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru said, ‘The growth of the nation can be determined by seeing the condition of its women’.

AN INTERVIEW WITH NOVELIST-FILMMAKER TRISHA DAS

Trisha Das, a filmmaker and bestselling author, has just published Misters Kuru: A Return to Mahabharata (HarperCollins India priced Rs 350), her latest work of feminist mythological fiction.

Ms Draupadi Kuru: A Novel is a sequel to her book. After the Pandavas, the racy, sassy roller-coaster ride full of action, adventure, romance, and comedy is set in modern-day Kalyug in Delhi as a kind of continuation of the Mahabharata.

Das has previously written and directed over 40 documentaries in her filmmaking career, winning an Indian National Film Award (2005) and being named the International Artist of the Year at the UGA (2003).

She discusses the significance of reimagining and rewriting myths from a female viewpoint, her early influences from Indian mythology, and the use of humour in mythology.

The Kuru novels are a kind of sequel to the Mahabharat, rather than a retelling. Thousands of years after the conclusion of the original Mahabharata, the storey of Ms Draupadi Kuru picks up in modern times. Draupadi and her companions descend from heaven to Delhi. The Pandava brothers accompany their women to Delhi in The Misters Kuru.

When asked the question “How were you motivated to write a feminist retelling of the Mahabharata in a contemporary setting?” She replied saying, “My motivation was simple- I wanted to give these characters another shot at their lives, at reshaping their destinies. So many of them were forced into living lives they didn’t want to- being stripped of their kingdom, exiles, et cetera. I though it would be fun to see what kind of lives they would choose, given the choice.”

A mythological woman apparently only has power over men if she has a small waist and lotus eyes, or if she is their mother.

It’s a pain. Women are celebrated for their sacrifices or their appearance rather than their accomplishments. Any form of resistance to being punished or attempt at self-determination is severely punished, and women are constantly punished for their menfolk’s dumb decisions. Ask any attractive woman wanting to take a bath in the woods. Consent is practically non-existent.

She said once, “My maternal grandfather started my fascination with mythology as a young child. He was religious, but in an inclusive way, and he told the best stories from both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. I read various versions and interpretations of the Mahabharata growing up and, as an adult, delved into the Ganguli and Debroy translations, alternate versions like Bheel Mahabharata and mythological fiction. I used to watch the TV series every Sunday on Doordarshan and point out mistakes, which everyone in my house found thoroughly annoying.”

Feminism is a relatively new phenomenon, but female dominance has always existed in some form or another. Even when the official narrative did not endorse it, women have always been strong. They worked in the shadows or exercised influence by dressing up as men, being saints, or a thousand other ways to get around the machine. Feminists are now working to shift the narrative and modify- same result, different approach.

How Did Education Help Women in India?

In India, women were not always allowed to read and write. But this changed when the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was launched. Now, women are learning, working and collaborating in all fields and making our nation proud.

What is Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan?

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) was launched by the former prime minister of India, Shree Atal Bihari Vajpayee which aimed at compulsory education of every child  between the ages of 6 – 14 years.This programme is also an attempt to provide an opportunity for improving human capabilities to all children through provision of community owned quality education in a mission mode. It started in 2002 and SSA has been operational since 2000-2001. However, its roots go back to 1993-1994, when the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) was launched, with an aim of achieving the objective of universal primary education. In 2018, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan along with Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan was launched to form Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. This Abhiyan has also assisted all children, especially a girl child to realise her true potential.

Education’s role in a women’s life

The development rate of any country depends highly on the education of all its citizens. The education of both men and women is equally important as they are the two sides of a coin. We can never develop, if we think that women do not deserve a right to education. Due to education, reforms started in many girls and women’s lives. These reforms are described below.

Women started getting equal respect by everyone. Traditionally, the women’s work in a household was only limited to washing, cooking and taking care of the family. After education, women could participate in the financial discussion of the family, they could now give advice to all the family members. Because of this men of the family have started to consider them as their equals.

The stereotypes and prejudices related to women are slowly disappearing from our society. The tradition of sati has stopped completely because now women know that their life still has a meaning without their husbands. Dowry has also stopped in India. Women are no longer considered a weight on fathers shoulders. 

Women also became aware of the laws, rights and their duty towards the nation. They also raise their voice against many issues and fight for their rights. They learn about various schemes introduced by the government. They also participate in elections and generally win by a large percentage of votes. 

They no longer stay at home. Due to a good education, many companies and offices are willingly giving them jobs. They are becoming financially independent. Women do not depend on husbands to provide them. This also has helped to increase the overall income of a poor family. The country’s defence forces have also opened up for women and they have become the pride of the family by joining the defence forces. 

The woman who started it all – Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule was an Indian social reformer, educationalist, and poet from Maharashtra. She established the first women school in India and became the first woman teacher of our country. She is regarded as the mother of Indian feminism.

By India Post, Government of India – [1], GODL-India, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74738306

She worked to abolish the discrimination and unfair treatment of people based on caste and gender. She is regarded as an important figure of the social reform movement in Maharashtra.  Savitribai’s birthdate, 3 January, is celebrated as Balika Din in the whole of Maharashtra, especially in Girl’s Schools. She is an inspiration for all the women of India.

Women In Labour Force : Challenges and Reform.

India’s female labour force participation (FLFP) rate is low and reducing consistently. National Sample survey (NSS) shows that between 1983 and 2011, India’s married women participation in labour force is declining even when the economy grew and fertility fell. Surprisingly, these trends are visible in high skill profession like senior officer, legislator and managers. Among engineers the female unemployment is five times more than men.

Reasons for low FLFP rate

High labour market barrier for socially and economically marginalized communities can increase the transmission of disadvantages across generation. Here we look at why participation of women labour force in economy is on a declining trend even when they have access to better education. These main reasons for decline in FLFP rate :

  1. Women are being overlooked among the unemployed people. Majority of them are outside labour force but are willing to work.
  2. Majority of women generally work in low paying or socially accepted jobs many of them are offshoots of domestic helps and childcare.
  3. Women are still entrusted to look after household duties and families across the social status.
  4. Existing skill and employment generation programme ignore the additional needs and constraint of women worker keeping them in disadvantage as compared to others.

Steps needed to be taken

Over the years both sate and central government have taken several steps to increase the participation of women in labour force so that they can contribute to the nation economy. In doing so they must undertake these policy reform

Strengthening existing policy

Both Central and State government use reservation as a policy to increase the representation of marginalized community in their workforce. Almost all states in India provide reservation to female child. Several survey has increased the SC / ST, OBC representation by around some percentage point. Its been observed that there is increase in female employment in education after operation blackboard reserve the post of teacher for women. These steps change the prejudice and bias against women. But these steps should be well monitor and well targeted.

Redesinging policy strategy

Recently, both states and central government has starting using the policy of Direct benefit transfer that is they are started transfering the social security amount direct beneficary bank account. The government should transfer the benefit amount directly to the bank account of women in the household as it leads to proper utilization of that amount.

Changing policy approach

Policy to increase FLFP and job creation can’t be viewed differently. This means that FLFP fails to create the level playing field for example job creation and skilling programmes often ignores safety, mobility, and other special needs of women which posses a big labour market barrier for women. Skilling and job creation programme should pay special attention to women needs and should break other entry barrier for women.

Influencing the private sector

Firms do not have incentive to support policy that benefit government and society at large. The great example is India’s recent maternity leave policy, where cost of leave is borne by private firms. This has led to low hiring or in some case no hiring of women in private firm which is just unacceptable.

The government should fund the cost of maternity leave to the firm especially for less education and women who hails from weaker and marginalized sector. Laying off women for just their biology it not unique to India this trends have been observed in all the countries around the world.

The way forward

Women need must be addressed and their participation must be increased not just in labour force but also in all sectors of the sectors. The dream transforming in to developed economy cannot be achieved if without the contribution of women. Not just government but private should come forward and implement gender parity and equal payment for equal work in their firms. Women contribution in society can be better understood by Gandhi quote : “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation)”.

MENSTRUATION: A TABOO IN 21ST CENTURY

Menstruation marks the onset of adolescence in girls. A girl’s body undergoes several changes during this phase. Menarche or the first menstruation usually begins between the age of 11-15 years. It also embarks the beginning of maturity of the female reproductive organs. It is the phenomenon in which the lining of the uterus, resulting in bleeding from the vagina. Menstruation is a beautiful natural process in a woman’s life. Yet, many taboos still revolve around it. These are because of inaccurate, inadequate or incomplete knowledge about menstruation. It is always surrounded by secrecy and myths in many societies. Will we ever get over these taboos? Let us take a glance at the situation in India.

MYTHS RELATED TO MENSTRUATION

In India, taboos related to menstruation still prevail at a large scale. Even in 2020, girls aren’t allowed to talk about periods. They cannot mention it not only in front of males but in front of anyone. Most of the students get introduced to the phenomena of menstruation in class 8. The silence in the class and the disgust on the faces of students tells us a lot about the situation in our country.

Menstruation is still considered as dirty and impure. Cultural norms, parental influence, personal- preference and socio-economic pressures affect menstrual hygiene practices. 

 This social stigma is especially prominent in rural areas. Women are not permitted to engage in household works and not allowed to enter the kitchen. They are not allowed to pray and enter temples when on periods. In Hindu belief, it is always believed that a woman must be “purified” before returning to her daily chores. Some believe,     consuming curd, tamarind and pickles will disturb the menstrual flow. Some even view it as a disease and isolate those undergoing it. Some girls even to believe that exercising during periods may result in excess bleeding. There seems to be no logic and scientific reasoning behind the same. In reality, doctors say that exercising may relieve bloating and cramps. It also releases serotonin, making one feel happy. These taboos have led girls to associate their bodies with a curse and impure.

IMPACT OF MENSTRUATION MYTHS ON A WOMAN’S LIFE

The prevalence of these taboos have affected women’s emotional and mental state. Not only this but it also affects their lifestyle and health. Over 23% of girls drop out of school when they begin menstruating, in India. The main reason behind this is lack of clean toilets in school and access to sanitary products. 71% are unaware of periods until they get it themselves. Parents rarely prepare their daughters for something is set to happen. This unpreparedness leads to anxiety and fear. According to a study, only 35% of women use sanitary pads in India. The rest are dependent on old rags, ash, mud, soil and leaves. From an early stage in life, girls learn to tolerate mental and physical pain. This makes it difficult for them to reach out to others for help during periods. These unhealthy menstruation practices have a direct impact on reproductive health. Further deteriorating their health in the long run.

POSSIBLE STRATEGIES TO COMBAT THESE MYTHS

First and foremost, educating the girls from the very beginning is very important. These taboos still exist mainly because of lack of education. Awareness needs to be raised not only among girls but each human being. Sanitary products are sold at prices that are not affordable to everyone. Low-cost sanitary pads can be made and sold locally, especially in rural and slum areas. The National Rural Health Mission aims to provide low-cost sanitary pads to 1.5 crore adolescent girls. This scheme is yet in its pilot phase and needs more implementation. Men also need to be made aware of menstruation. They need to be sensitive about these issues and help to combat the disbeliefs. It is important for them to understand it and support all the women in their lives. Health workers and Anganwadi workers should be sensitised and involved in spreading awareness. Arunachalam Muruganantham, the real Padman of India is one such person who challenged the stereotypes. He not only gave women the opportunity to become entrepreneurs but also helped change the social outlook. Women and girls need to understand that they have the power to procreate because of this virtue. 

No girl or women should feel ashamed of bleeding every month. In the 21st century, where women are reaching new heights, they should not be pulled down because of this natural phenomenon. Today we talk about women empowerment but make women feel insecure about their bodies. Social media is accessible to almost everyone. This platform can help in raising awareness and showing support. It’s high time we stop judging and discriminating and start engaging in meaningful conversations about periods. Next time you hear the word “period”, don’t feel uncomfortable and talk about it openly. Starting to bring a change now will only help the generations to come.

Credit Where It Is Due

Who invented the telephone? Alexander Graham Bell. Who invented the computer? Charles Babbage. Who invented the automobile? Karl Benz. Who invented the airplane? The Wright Brothers. We all were taught in school about the great inventors and scientists who created history by creating something extraordinary, but as history has appreciated some of the remarkable people it has not been so kind to the women inventors and there were times when the credit of something remarkable was passed on to a man, stealing away not only the credit but also a chance to be recognized and be remembered always. Let us take a look at such incredible women who’s inventions were credited to their male counterparts.

Rosalind Franklin- In 1958, James D. Watson and Francis H.C Crick received a Nobel prize for their groundbreaking discovery o the double Helix, which changed our point of view of the human DNA, but little do we know that it was Rosalind Franklin who actually discovered the double Helix but died 4 years prior of cancer with no recognition whatsoever.

Lise Meitner- In 1944, Otto Hann won a prize in Chemistry from the Royal Swedish Academy for his discovery of nuclear fission. This discovery would later contribute to the making of the atomic bombs. The woman that he worked in this dangerous research was Lise Meitner, who never received credit for her work.

Hedy Lamarr- Hedy Lamarr was an American-Australian actress and a fashion icon, but she was also the brilliant mind who took part in the invention of the radio guidance system- the system that enables the WiFi and Bluetooth that we use every day. What’s tragic is that while she was presenting her invention to the Navy with her partner, George Antheil, the Navy just pretended to not be interested in it and then stole it later on. Unfortunately, she received her due to recognition in her 80s.

Margaret Knight- In 1868, a woman who was working at a paper bag factory, invented the machine that sealed and folded the paper bag on its own, saving millions of dollars in the workplace. It may sound nothing but back in 1868, it was a revolutionary idea. But there was a machinist who asked to see her machine and he went and tried to patent it in his name behind her back. Fortunately, she fought him and because there were several eyewitnesses, she managed to win the case and received her credit.

Fair, But Not So Lovely

Either as your grandmother’s favourite piece of advice or through the perpetual barrage of fairness cream advertisements on television, if you’re an Indian, it’s hard to miss the magical myths of fair skin is everywhere. One such myth that I came upon, that struck a cord with me was that ‘fair skinned persons don’t lie’, which, needless to say is enough to reveal the fair-skin obsession that plagues the young minds of our society.

Consumer brand Hindustan Unilever announced on June 25 that it’s dropping the word ‘Fair’ from its popular skin-whitening cream brand ‘Fair & Lovely’ to achieve a ‘more inclusive vision of beauty’. However, it’s still a change that only goes skin deep as the change, by all accounts, remains at the level of branding. It was also announced that announced, the emphasis would be shifted from “fairness” to “glow”. But words such as “glow” and skin “brightening” have long been used by cosmetic products as more acceptable alternatives for treatments that aim to lighten skin tone.

Banning anything that goes against the norm seems to be the pitch of the season. The barrage of criticism against the way fairness creams are being promoted in the advertisement is the ‘height of creative low’. Instead of projecting a healthy thought, these ads seem to be promoting stereotypes and problematic beliefs such as fairness being a resume-worthy quality. The ads play big on the connect people have with skin fairness and the job they do. It is blatantly projected though the numerous ads where the girl gets rejected from an interview for the role of a flight attendant-fashion model-teacher. Armed with fairness cream, the renewed zeal of the woman gets her the job she aspired to do. How convenient! These ads must be banned for glorifying skin complexion as part of the resume. It also seems to convey very ambiguous messages. Are dark-skinned individuals the only consumers who use fairness creams? Even those born with the ‘quality’ use dollops of cream and expect to retain their fairness for ever. Despite this fact, the ads continue to project the creams as a Messiah for dark-skinned people. It breeds contempt among users and potential customers. The advertisements also seem to portray that the wonder creams have the ability to get you married or turn you into a star overnight!

However, at the end of the day, they exist because people buy them, and since there is a market for them…like all products or services. But yes, they do feed into the existing prejudice and preference against a darker complexion.

Products like these, make people ashamed of their originality. It’s a shallow concept and its propaganda is ignominious. Some people make a fair skin tone as the yardstick of a person’s success. A woman once hinted me that I am excelling in a lot of places because I am fair skinned. Thank you, fairness creams ads. The question isn’t about the fact that whether or not dark is beautiful. The question is about an individual’s dignity. Let’s not stoop this low to believe in the authenticity of such a biased idea of beauty. So, should the skin-whitening products be allowed to take such a significant place in our society?

I guess, the answer is pretty simple. We don’t need products which make people diffident and which make people shallow in their perseverance of beauty. At the end of the day, they are just devouring off our backward mind-set, insecurities and inferiority complex.
Dropping of fair in the name of a face cream is, thus, only symbolic. It does not change the social bias towards fairness specially for women. They’re just as problematic. Such changes may lend these products a glow of wokeness. But it only whitewashes the in-built prejudices that are yet to be challenged in any meaningful way.

In a country obsessed with fairness creams, people should be educated to find beauty beyond skin colour.

“Women” as Entrepreneurs in India:

Women owned businesses are highly increasing in the economies of almost all countries.
The hidden entrepreneurial potentials of women have gradually been changing with the growing sensitivity to the role and economic status in the society. Skill, knowledge and adaptability in business are the main reasons for women to emerge into business ventures.


‘Women Entrepreneur’ is a person who accepts challenging role to meet her personal needs and become economically independent. A strong desire to do something positive is an inbuilt quality of entrepreneurial women, who is capable of contributing values in both family and social life.


With the advent of media, women are aware of their own traits, rights and also the work situations. The glass ceilings are shattered and women are found indulged in every line of business from pappad to power cables. The challenges and opportunities provided to the women of digital era are growing rapidly that the job seekers are turning into job creators. They are flourishing as designers, interior decorators, exporters, publishers, garment manufacturers and still exploring new avenues of economic participation. In India, although women constitute the majority of the total population, the entrepreneurial world is still a male dominated one. Women in advanced nations are recognized and are more prominent in the business world.

PROBLEMS OF WOMEN ENTREPRENEUR IN INDIA:-
Major problems faced by the Women Entrepreneurs can be described as:
Lack of Confidence: In general, women lack confidence in their strength and competence. The family members and the society are reluctant to stand beside their entrepreneurial growth. To a certain extent, this situation is changing among Indian women and yet to face a tremendous change to increase the rate of growth in entrepreneurship.


Socio-Cultural Barriers: Women’s family and personal obligations are sometimes a great barrier for succeeding in business career. Only few women are able to manage both home and business efficiently, devoting enough time to perform all their responsibilities in priority.


Market-Oriented Risks: Stiff competition in the market and lack of mobility of women make the dependence of women entrepreneurs on middleman indispensable.
Many business women find it difficult to capture the market and make their products popular. They are not fully aware of the changing market conditions and hence can effectively utilize the services of media and internet.


Motivational Factors: Self motivation can be realized through a mind set for a successful business, attitude to take up risk and behavior towards the business society by shouldering the social responsibilities. Other factors are family support, Government policies, financial assistance from public and private institutions and also the environment suitable for women to establish business units.


Knowledge in Business Administration: Women must be educated and trained constantly to acquire the skills and knowledge in all the functional areas of business management. This can facilitate women to excel in decision making process and develop a good business network.


Awareness about the Financial Assistance: Various institutions in the financial sector extend their maximum support in the form of incentives, loans, schemes etc. Even then every woman entrepreneur may not be aware of all the assistance provided by the institutions. So the sincere efforts taken towards women entrepreneurs may not reach the entrepreneurs in rural and backward areas.


Exposed to the Training Programs: Training programs and workshops for every type of entrepreneur is available through the social and welfare associations, based on duration, skill and the purpose of the training program. Such programs are really useful to new, rural and young entrepreneurs who want to set up a small and medium scale unit on their own.


Identifying the Available Resources: Women are hesitant to find out the access to cater their needs in the financial and marketing areas. In spite of the mushrooming growth of associations, institutions, and the schemes from the government side, women are not enterprising and dynamic to optimize the resources in the form of reserves, assets mankind or business volunteers.


Highly educated, technically sound and professionally qualified women should be encouraged for managing their own business, rather than dependent on wage employment outlets.
The unexplored talents of young women can be identified, trained and used for various types of industries to increase the productivity in the industrial sector. A desirable environment is necessary for every woman to inculcate entrepreneurial values and involve greatly in business dealings.


The additional business opportunities that are recently approaching for women entrepreneurs are:
• Eco-friendly technology,
• Bio-technology,
• IT enabled enterprises,
• Event Management,
• Tourism industry,
• Telecommunication,
• Plastic materials,
• Vermiculture,
• Mineral water,
• Sericulture,
• Floriculture,
• Herbal & health care,
• Food, fruits & vegetable processing


Empowering women entrepreneurs is essential for achieving the goals of sustainable development and the bottlenecks hindering their growth must be eradicated to entitle full participation in the business. Apart from training programs, Newsletters, mentoring, trade fairs and exhibitions also can be a source for entrepreneurial development. As a result, the desired outcomes of the business are quickly achieved and more of remunerative business opportunities are found. Henceforth, promoting entrepreneurship among women is certainly a short-cut to rapid economic growth and development.

Indian Soap Operas Need To Do Better

A woman is chided by society for her loud and brash manner; background music meant to tug at one’s heartstrings accompanies the sermon they deliver about how her behaviour is unbecoming of a woman and causes everyone distress.

“You’re in love with someone?” her sister gasps. “I was under the impression that you are a good girl!”

Another ludicrous scenario that I can recall goes something like this.

The parsimonious mother-in-law taunts the beguile protagonist saying that she has no clue on how strenuous it is to operate a business and that it requires years and years of hard work and struggle. The protagonist retaliates to her mother-in-law’s call down by saying that anybody can be a doctor or an engineer, and it’s nothing to be proud of, and that she can accomplish the same if given 3 months of time, but what’s not any layman’s work is cooking a perfect kheer and she dares her to accomplish that. The episode ends with mother-in-law failing to accomplish the task and giving in to the daughter-in-law with a ‘victory soundtrack’ playing in the background resonating with the proud face of the protagonist.

Now you may ask, what’s so problematic about this? In a day and age, where hundreds if not thousands of girls are studying day and night and working their fingers to the bone just to be able to sustain themselves in the corporate world, the soap operas project that kitchen is the ultimate fate for a woman. Neither is getting into B-school is easy, nor is cooking a perfect meal. But just because your target audience mainly comprises of housewives, it doesn’t mean you’ll need to defame and demean the female workforce.

It’s really disheartening that despite being women-centric, most of the TV serials reinforce archaic beliefs about a woman’s modesty and her place in the household and in society. Maintain your dignity, keep your head down and endure the humiliation, for that is a testament to your strength of character, they seem to say. It’s generally achieved through stereotypical (and regressive) portrayal of saas-bahu relationships who are often pitted against one another just for the sake of it. Another way of doing it is through drawing a dichotomy between ‘an ideal woman’ and the ‘vamp’. The former is primarily seen in traditional attire, is respectful and performs all of her daughterly duties with precision. On the contrary, the vamp is often clad in pants or decked in heavy jewellery and make-up, has a domineering or outspoken nature, and is possibly unmarried (because who would tolerate her, right?).

So, who do you think comprises the majority of the viewer segment for these on-screen aberrations? Mostly the women-folk, specifically the elderly and the housewives and in a nation like ours we all know the sad truth of an women’s existence. Kitchen, marriage and babies, in most cases, are the holy trinity amongst which many a woman’s dreams and ambitions are snuffed out. Who are the staunchest implementers of oppressive practices on women? Women themselves! All in the name of ‘tradition’ and ‘culture’. For these women, these serials are providing a validation of their existence which otherwise is always limited to being the shadow of a male family member- Mr. X’ s wife or Mr. Y’s daughter or Mr. Z’ s mother but never an individual.

These serials with their mindless and baseless storylines make martyrs and Goddesses out of these brainless, one-dimensional female characters; glorifying submission and sacrifice to the point where rationale ceases to exist in totality. Add to it a dash of black magic and divine intervention and voila! You have just created the perfect potion to keep womenfolk tame and submissive and most importantly voiceless accompaniment to male demand and fantasy! I’m rather inclined to think of these serials as a well thought, well-crafted and well-executed strategy by a largely patriarchal powerhouse to keep women away from exerting their rights or voicing their ambition and dreams.

To conclude, these serials are basically a reflection of our societal mind-set at large and are meant to sustain that sick mind-set going forward. These storylines, intentionally or unintentionally, prevent women from being exposed to concepts of freedom and strength of character and determination, and as result women are simply reduced to an epitome of sacrifice and fragility who aren’t allowed rebel but always endure and adjust!

Indian soap operas, it’s a sincere request, please stop glorifying misery, mistaking stoicism for masochism, degrading the art of storytelling, and reinforcing gender roles on television.

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Regressive portrayal of women on Indian Television.

Unexpected Lessons I Learnt from The Bold Type

I discovered “The Bold Type” after a draining day at school. I had just screwed up an exam and I was in desperate need for an escape. Now, a couple years and four seasons later, “The Bold Type” is still a source of constant comfort. 

Whether it is professional or personal, there are plenty of life lessons that I picked up while watching the show. 

  1. DON’T BE AFRAID TO STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN– Kat is one of the most outspoken characters on the web, she like the title is the embodiment of bold. Kat does not shy away from confrontation and believes in taking a firm stand. She is comfortable expressing herself, her opinions and her beliefs no matter what. Her strong stands even cost Kat her dream job , nevertheless she did not shy away from doing the right thing and curved a new path for herself to continue doing what she loves to do even when the conditions aren’t favourable enough.
  2. FAILURE HAPPENS. THINGS DON’T WORK OUT SOMETIMES. MOVE ON– As someone who wants to prefect everything they do, this hits home. Failure is a part of life. Just because you failed at one thing doesn’t mean you’re bad at everything or that you can’t try again. 
  3. HAVING A SUPPORT GROUP IS IMPORTANT – Jane, Kat and Sutton support each other through thick and thin- Every bump in the road, every achievement, every rock bottom, every celebration. Get yourself a friends group that is there for you without any strings attached. Everything is a gazillion times better when you have a support group. Take it from me, 2020 would have been hell if it wasn’t for my girl gang.
  4. IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE SURE ABOUT YOUR CAREER CHOICES– In the course of 4 seasons, Sutton went from a personal assistant to a fashion assistant to an aspiring designer to a stylist. She admits that she is undecided about her career choices but is willing to experiment what she desires to see what suits her best. 
  5. YOU HAVE TO START FROM SQUARE 1– Since the first episode of season 1, the girls knew where they wanted to be, personally and professionally, and they were on the way to achieve it. However in the latter seasons we discover that the they all started from the bottom: Sutton was a temp, Jane started as an intern and Kat worked for someone who was clueless about how to make hits on any social media platform. It was a great reminder that everyone has to start at the bottom.
  6. BE INSPIRED BY STRONG WOMEN– Connecting with such strong female-empowering character leads in The Bold Type is so important for any viewer because it gives an insight into loving what you do, being more understanding, and realising that you don’t have to go through the tough times in life alone. Early on in the show, Kat starts explore her sexuality and discovers what it means to find yourself before giving it all to someone else. Jane is driven by what her heart tells her and she goes through numerous personal ups and downs and still finds a way to keep going. Having strong women around them as helped them overcome the obstacles they faced and to come to terms with what is going on in their lives. 

Being bold can be terrifying but it’s great to have shows like ‘The Bold Type’ inspire us and help us put into perspective how we can be bolder and live our life on our terms.

From Period Poverty to Period Dignity

A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.

Sadly, in a country where 70% of reproductive diseases are caused by pitiable menstrual hygiene conditions, we’re still missing out on addressing the ‘period poverty’. Period poverty refers to the lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints. Lack of access to clean water, lack of toilets with doors, and difficulties disposing of used products are just some of the challenges that women face when trying to manage their periods in a private, safe and dignified manner. The inadequate access to menstrual products and education around hygiene had been a serious barrier in working towards menstrual equity. Period stigma is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality, cultural shame, internalized taboo and dogmatic religious practices that have made initiating a discourse on menstruation a catch-22. The most direct cause-cum-consequence of it is menstruation blood being strictly distinguished from other bodily fluids and being culturally portrayed as dirty, unclean and impure.

Another example of consequence of period stigma can be seen in the famous Ambubachi Mela which celebrates the menstrual time of Goddess Kamakhya where rice holds a huge significance denoted by dhan. However, it’s accompanied by the absurd myth is that when a menstruating woman touches the rice container in her household, then she and her family faces the wrath of Goddess Lakshmi. It is believed that the influx of dhan or wealth gets negatively affected in that particular household. Us, women, live a life of irony don’t we? While Ambubachi signifies fertility and celebrates the child bearing capabilities of women, the ground reality of menstruating women portray a different tale altogether.

It’s unfortunate that even though we’re living in today’s 21st century and everyone knows about it, no one is allowed to talk about it publicly. Films are being made on this, numerous campaigns are going on but the fact is that people still hesitate to utter this word in front of others looms large.

To add further to this paradoxical situation, sanitation facilities are unaffordable by most. Approximately 70 million people in India live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 dollars per day. Hence for low-income households, the cost of sanitary pads is often unattainable. An average of more than 40% of students in India resort to missing school while menstruating as a consequence of social stigma, isolation, embarrassment and inaccessibility of products. The instances of avoiding school are also ramification for the lack of proper sanitation facilities across the country.
Government has intervened to tackle this issue several times, but to no avail. In fact, in 2017, the Indian government had labelled menstrual products as luxury goods, but fortunately enough, in July of 2018, the Indian government removed the tax, to make the sanitary products more accessible to everyone. Other than this there’s the Janaushadhi Suvidha scheme which aims to provide women with oxo-biodegradable sanitary napkins at a meagre cost of Rs. 2.50/pad across 3,600 Janaushadhi Kendras in the country.

The pandemic has made the situation even more challenging than it already was. It’s well known that the coronavirus outbreak is having a devastating impact on family finances all over the world, but now we see that girls and women are also facing widespread shortages and price hikes on period products, with the result that many are being forced to make do with whatever they can find to manage their period. This can pose a real threat to their health and may increase the risk of infection. Thus, is about time we realise that menstruation is just a biological process and the secrecy surrounding it must go. It is important to normalise and de-stigmatise menstruation, and destroy taboos around this natural process.

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Period. End of Sentence.

New Media And Reporting Gender Based Violence

Trigger Warning: Mention of Rape and Sexual Assault

New Media has also changed the style of journalism, such as the rise of online journalism, where facts, information, and reports are produced and distributed through the internet. News in the New Media era is enabled to spread more widely and rapidly. News content is now enriched by lots of digital elements such as images, embed videos, comment box. These elements make the information presented becomes more attractive. One of the salient characters of online journalism is its dependency on speed in delivering information. When we talk about the emerging trends in media, we cannot afford to overlook the role of online media in changing the scenario in the context of women’s issues. The content that the online media produces reflects the pattern of value the society. The prevailing attitude of society gets revealed through the way subjects dealing with women are treated by the media (Arpita Sharma, 2012). 

Media has the choice of acting as both, a protagonist and as a perpetrator-it can either reinforce the gender-based discrimination by portraying sensational and stereotypical images of women or it can provide balanced reportage that empowers women and not degrades them while exposing acts of gender-based violence. Rape cases and sexual assault cases are not a recent trend in the society but sensitive reportage and wide coverage by media while also bringing these issues forefront are relatively very new. 

Gender-based violence or GBV is violence that is directed against a person because of their gender. Both women and men experience GBV but the majority of victims are women and girls. GBV and violence against women are terms that are synonymous as it is widely acknowledged that most gender-based violence is inflicted on women and girls, by men. The issue of GBV reaches every corner of the world. The numbers of women and girls affected by this problem are shocking. According to the World Health Organization’s data from 2013, one in every three women has been beaten, compelled into sex or are abused. One in five women is sexually abused as a child, according to a 2014 report.

In coverage of GVB, several stereotypes are often perpetuated by the new media. These include that rape is similar to sex, that the assailant is motivated by female lust, that the assailant is perverted, crazy or a monster, that the woman provokes rape or assault, and that only women are only victims. Scholars have found that these stereotypes and myths are pervasive in media coverage of rape and assault cases. Not only the language and the framing of the headlines but also the visuals used in the articles regarding GVB play an important role in the general perception of these issues.

In Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (UNESCO, 2012), under Category B- Gender Portrayal In Media Content, B1.5- Strategic Objective 5 states the indicators for the coverage of gender-based violence. Three of them are-

  1. Use of non-judgmental language, distinguishing between consensual sexual activity and criminal acts, and taking care not to blame the victim/survivor for the crime 

2. Use of the term ‘survivor’ rather than ‘victim’ unless the violence-affected person uses the latter term or has not survived 

3. Use of background information and statistics to present gender-based violence as a societal problem rather than as an individual, personal tragedy 

Terms such as ‘victim’ or ‘survivor’ are often used to describe individuals who undergo these experiences. The term ‘victim’ reiterates feelings of helplessness and lack of female agency, while the term survivor connotes a sense of strength and resilience. However, the affected person should have a say in what to refer them as. The ‘victim’ terminology limits individual self-agency and identity. It is important to note that experiences of violence do not define the individual, but rather are a piece of a larger self-identity. Such labels focus on experiences of violence and presuppose an individual’s inability to change or undergo any personal development to transform their identity into a peaceful, empowered personality. 

Images of sexual violence in the media often depicts women as covering their face, being silenced by looming hands, teary faces, large shadows near the woman, are some of the visual examples. These images not only fuel the stereotypes of women as helpless and weak, but also these images are also extremely triggering for the survivors of sexual assault and rape. 

When media reports women who have been assaulted or raped as nothing but victims, society can disengage and fail to take the issue as a broader societal issue and fail to take responsibility for any individual or group action to change it. It is crucial then for journalists to report on GBV in an informed way and to have a good theoretical understanding of the roots of these gender based violence’s and what needs to change in society. Otherwise, they can do harm by perpetuating patriarchal stereotypes and falsehoods. 

What does empowerment/bravery have to do with gender?

Not making women Commandant Officers in the army is simply prejudice and fear of the fraternity of male officers.

The argument made by the Solicitor General in the Supreme Court that women officers of the Indian Army cannot be made as Commandants because male soldiers will not obey their orders is in fact irrational. In 1992, women were first included in the Armed Forces through the Short Service Commission. This service is of 10 years which can be extended up to 14 years.

They train in OTA Chennai and work shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. Their posting takes place at risky, rough and tough areas, whether it borders Kashmir or as a UN Peacekeeper, Libya and Congo. In areas bordering Pakistan and in the North East, there are hardly 4-5 officers and even sometimes just a sole woman officer with her male soldiers.

The question is when the head of NCC battalion of over 800 girls can be a male commandant, then why can’t a woman be the commandant of that battalion? The argument that the physical difference in women makes them less capable of the military is ridiculous. Whether the fighter is at the junior level or senior position.

There is no need for more or less muscle power anywhere. At the senior level, job profile supervision, strategy making and decision making have to be done. An order issued by the Ministry of Defense on 25 February 2019 calls for giving a permanent commission to women in the army from the date of the order. But this leaves off the demand of women who have served the country for 24-25 years and most of them have crossed 40 years of their age.

It is necessary that the policies of the government should be proposed considering those who are currently the officers in the army and should not be made considering the future. Now that the time has come for these high-ranking women officers to be given their right to serve in high positions, the appellant suspects that selective 332 women officers, who are just 4% of their entire capacity, will purloin the vacant positions at a higher level in the military. This is nothing but prejudice and fear of the fraternity of male officers.

The Army considers women officers as an effective workforce for lower-level positions which extends up to 14 years of service and considers them incompetent and unfit for the Commandant level, which is a culmination of hypocrisy. People argue that this battle is parallel to fighting against the government. But they have to understand that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it clear that women should be taken for bureaucracy and all senior positions of government. The Prime Minister’s words are political volition.

It should be believed that a person’s rank or role in life should be according to integrity and merits. On the one hand, we send Captain Tanya Shergill in the Republic Day Parade to lead the contingent and on the other hand, we argue in the Supreme Court that she is not entitled to be a commandant in the army. This reflects the military’s dual policy towards its people. The fight is not against the government but against the misconception and mindset of bureaucracy.

Our women officers have suffered sentimental throbs during their 25-year job. To be sidelined despite having the ability, the lack of job security due to the ambiguous cadre status and working below the 6 batch Junior Officer affects the morale of giving 100 per cent for the service. The argument that can be made in favour of these women officers is that the mode of war in the world is changing. The world is evolving in a cyber age and even wars are not left rearwardly. Signal communication has to govern in ever-increasing adverse surroundings.

New technologies and methods of demolition are being prepared every day. And analytical skills are more than the physical ability to deal with them. Women are making missiles in DRDO and Chandrayaan in ISRO, then why can’t they command a battalion? We all know the answers to these questions. This idea needs to attain policies.

Men and women live in the same bunker in the army. Once a woman or a man joins the army, he/she is just a fighter, apart from gender. It is only the qualification that should decide their position in the service. Are women kept in the army only as fancy chunks? So that the army is not labelled as ‘men zone.’

And they only maintain a women-men ratio so that the data can be shown internationally.
How is heroism related to gender? When a woman can handle the election campaign of Srinagar, which is currently the most unstable area in the world, without being in the army, then why can’t women handle the commandant’s charge?

A woman can be second in command but not a commandant because women can perform in the army only as long as they do not hurt the ego and arrogance of men. However, when we look at the other side of the coin, there are some false feminists who have used the card of family and child care responsibility to deny the call of duty. There was a case when a female officer refused to go to Nagpur to court-martial because she had to take care of her newborn. Such excuses should be condemned.

If the Supreme Court and the government feel that women are not competent for combat or defence service because they are women, then their entry into the service should be stopped altogether. But Punita Arora, Padmavati Bandopadhyay, Mitali Madhumita, Priya Jhingan and Tanya Shergill prove all those arguments wrong. High positions are being demanded as rights, not in charity.

Women in Indian Society

Through mythology and religious texts

Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of male as the primary authority is central. It refers to a system where men have authority over women, children and property. As an institution of male rule and privilege, patriarchy is dependent on female subordination. Historically, it has manifested itself in the social, legal, political, and economic institutions of different cultures. Literally meaning ‘rule of fathers’(Ferguson, 1048), the term ‘patriarchy’ was initially used to refer to autocratic rule by the male head of a family. However, in modem times, it more generally refers to social system in which power is primarily held by adult men. 

Majority of religions have contributed their bit to perpetuate patriarchal norms. With such beliefs instilled into cultural mindset, women scarcely stand a chance of gaining strength in this male-dominated world. Patriarchy is also manifest in family traditions and gets reinforced through practices such as women adopting the surname of their husbands and children too carrying their father’s last name. 

There is considerable ambiguity about the status of women in Indian society. Some sacred texts accord them an exalted status by stating that gods live where women are worshipped. In her various manifestations as Mother Goddess, namely Durga, Kali, Chandi, woman is believed to represent power or Shakti, and evoke both fear and reverence. She can protect and at the same time can also wreak vengeance. If pleased, she can fulfil every wish, but when annoyed, she can unleash unimaginable terror. Male gods at times find themselves helpless before her and cannot dare to intervene especially when she has decided to act as power incarnate. Most of her attributes are believed to be embedded in every woman. However, there is yet another profile of woman established by religious writings and folklore wherein she is believed to be fickle and fragile. She is represented as sensuous, tempting, given to falsehood, folly, greed, impurity, and also thoughtless action. She is also regarded as the root of all evil. It is because of her supposedly inconsistent character that she has to be kept under strict control. Being fragile, she needs protection at all stages of her life, for instance, in childhood by her father, in youth by her husband, and in old age, after the husband’s death, by her sons. As evident, these two images are contradictory. 

The patrilineal Hindu society expects a woman to have certain virtues, chastity being one of them. Before marriage, a woman is not allowed to think of any man in sexual terms. Secondly, she has to be a devout wife—the notion of Pati-Parmeshwar or ‘husband as God’ reigning supreme in the popular mindset. Women observe several fasts to ensure that they get the same husband life after life. Such fasts also include prayers for the long life of the husband, so that the wife does not have to undergo the ‘sufferings’ of widowhood. The infertility of a woman is considered a curse as in patrilineal groups she is expected to produce a son to continue the patriarchal lineage. 

Rammohan Roy stands out as the figure who took a firm stand against the practice of Sati. Sati was the custom through which a woman was condemned and pressurised by society to sacrifice her life by dying alongside her husband on his funeral pyre. Lata Mani in her book ‘Contentious Traditions- The Debate on Sati in Colonial India’, highlights that sati was not about whether the Vedic scriptures prescribed such self-immolation nor was it about the individual women’s wishes and desires. Rather, it was a part of the traditional behaviour that Indian women had internalised within themselves. Many of them saw it as an essential part of the ‘·’duty” expected from them as a good wife – to sacrifice her life in order that her husband could gain ultimate salvation. 

According to Hindu mythology, the Manusmriti is the word of Brahma, and it is classified as the most authoritative statement on Dharma. Manusmriti is considered as the divine code of conduct. Laws of Manu insist that since women by their very nature are disloyal they should be made dependent on men. The husband should be constantly worshipped as a God, which symbolized that man is a lord, master, owner, or provider and women were the subordinates. It legitimizes that a woman should never be made independent, as a daughter she should be under the surveillance of her father, as a wife of her husband and as a widow of her son (Chakravarti, 2006). While defending Manusmiriti, apologists often quote the verse: “yatr naryasto pojyantay, ramantay tatr devta”  that is “where women are provided place of honor, gods are pleased and reside there in that household”, but they deliberately forget the verses that are full of prejudice and hatred against women. 

These texts justify a woman’s inferior status in society. Each of these verses shows how the Brahmanical ideology reduces the character of a woman to the number of sexual partners she has, and her purpose as child-bearers. The obsession with knowing the lineage of offspring, virginity and the narrow definition of character led to the imposition of restrictions on women and artificially stunted their status. And much of this continues till today.

We celebrate Dussehra to mark the victory of ‘Good over Evil’, Navratri in the honour of nine Goddesses, Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon and worshiping Lakshmi on Diwali, we are decked up in festivities and celebrations. But do we really celebrate them? To find the answer to that question, you need to look no further than mythology and religious scriptures. It’s a clear indicator of what the fabric of society, its structure and norms would be like.  

The implementation of patriarchal norms and values depend to a great extent on the strength and weakness of control mechanisms. For instance, articulation of patriarchal values and the prescription of norms through religious texts command natural observance. At times, family honour is protected by wife-beating. It is all too visible in the lower classes, but also persists in upper strata of society. Even after six decades of independence, one frequently reads of bride burning and dowry deaths. Other forms of violence are: heaping indignities on the wife and her relations by the in-laws, making her do physical work beyond her capacity, failing to provide her adequate nutrition, and even torturing her mentally on several pretexts. Even highly educated and well-placed women are amenable to such maltreatment. 

Women Empowerment in Today’s Age

Education is important to empowering women. Through it, women have better direct exposure and employment opportunities, leading to higher income levels and less isolation at household or exclusion from economic matters. Women can live their aspirations with an education, by continuing to pursue their own goals and values.

Mindset needs to change for women's empowerment - The Sunday ...

Studies have found that if each girl completed 12 years of schooling, child marriage would drop by 64 percent and health risks from early pregnancy would drop by 59 percent and 49 percent respectively, such as early births and infant deaths.

Economic Growth by Empowering Women:

Helping to educate women and girls also boosts the economic growth of countries, decreases the possibility of violence and extremism, and has been called the Brookings Institution’s Best Investment against Climate Change. According to the Malala Fund, there are more than 130 million girls outside of school worldwide. These girls will often marry and have kids at a young age without an education, work in unregulated or minimal paying positions and rely on their spouses or family members for economic support. Without an education, there are limited futures for their futures and for their families. Encouraging women to engage fully in economic life in all sectors is vital to building stronger economies, achieving globally recognized growth and sustainability targets and improving the quality of life for women, men, families and communities. The private sector is a key partner in pushing for gender equality and empowering women.

Any prosperous country will consider crucial concerns for sustainable growth, such as gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Higher female earnings, as evidenced by surveys, significantly contribute to children’s education and family health, impacting a nation’s productivity growth. Statistically speaking, the contribution of women to wage work jumped from 42 per cent to 46 per cent from 1997 to 2007. Obviously, achieving economic empowerment for women is the key to solving issues such as gender inequality and poverty, and also to foster inclusive economic growth. Women are considered to make a major contribution to economics in the form of industry, entrepreneurial work or (sadly!) unpaid labour.

While women living in some parts of the developed world have the function of decision-makers and influencers, gender inequality in other parts of the world persists a crippling social problem, and these subordinate women are also alarmingly impacted by poverty, sexism and other types of vulnerable oppression. As every developing country will agree, sustainable economic development is impossible without empowerment of women and gender equality initiatives are the driving force of social change and economic growth. Working women make a huge contribution to education, health and well-being, and hence achieving gender equality is essential for holistic developments.

Women Empowerment’s role in Sustainable Development:

As issues of women’s economic empowerment and gender equality are gathering traction on the global scene, nations around the globe are taking unbelievable steps to reduce gender gap and encourage economic equality. Some of the ways we can follow to achieve women’s economic empowerment for sustainable development are discussed below in order to play your part in the movement.

Women as Decision Makers:

While many women are now important contributors to some states’ economies, gender equality continues to be a myth in much of the world. Women have been actively engaged in the technology sector, food processing, and sustainable use of natural resources, domestic health, entrepreneurial work, and energy and climate change. But, to get a better-paid career, most women still lack access to good work prospects and money. As the attention turns to inclusive economic structures, it can go a long way in achieving women’s empowerment to provide women with leadership opportunities and make them a part of decision making.

Job Opportunities:

Despite becoming significant contributors to social and financial development, women lack equal opportunities for employment. Equal rights programs can make significant investments in promoting decent jobs and public policies, and in promoting growth and development.

Conclusion:

Women empowerment programs invest extensively in women’s health and empowerment, empowering women to break free from their conventional positions and remove perceptions of gender. There are many ways to achieve financial equality for women and the above guidelines are only to name a few. It is time to break down barriers and considering possible programs to advocate for equal opportunities for women and promote financial inclusiveness in order to keep up with the changing economic trends and meet sustainable development goals.

Social Empowerment of Women in Rural areas

Empowerment means giving strength to an individual. The empowerment of women has been considerably reasoned and penned all over the world. As per a well-known sociologist, empowerment of women means furnishing them to be economically independent, self-sufficient, in addition to providing positive self-esteem to face any adverse situation. Women should be prepared enough to take part in any development procedure.

Known and probably ‘repetitive’ points- but never got commissioned appropriately!

But now, after making these the last of the priorities for a good amount of time, the measures that will be taken into consideration towards the cause are stated below. Positive efforts are always welcomed.

Here they go:

Education
Equal access to education for women and girls will be ensured. Special measures will be taken to eliminate discrimination, universalize education, eradicate illiteracy, create a gender-sensitive educational system, increase enrolment and retention rates of girls and improve the quality of education to facilitate life-long learning as well as the development of occupation/vocation/technical skills by women. Reducing the gender gap in secondary and higher education would be a focus area. Sectorial time targets in existing policies will be achieved, with a special focus on girls and women, particularly those belonging to weaker sections including the Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes Minorities. Gender-sensitive curricula would be developed at all levels of the educational system in order to address sex stereotyping as one of the causes of gender discrimination.

Health

A holistic approach to women’s health which includes both nutrition and health services will be adopted and special attention will be given to the needs of women and the girl at all stages of the
life cycle. The reduction of infant mortality and maternal mortality, which are sensitive indicators of human development, is a priority concern. This policy reiterates the national demographic goals for Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) set out in the National Population Policy 2000. Women should have access to comprehensive, affordable and quality health care. Measures will be adopted that take into account the reproductive rights of women to enable them to exercise informed choices, their vulnerability to sexual and health problems together with endemic, infectious and communicable diseases such as malaria, TB, and water-borne diseases as well as hypertension and cardio-pulmonary diseases. The social, developmental and health consequences of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases will be tackled from a gender perspective. To effectively meet problems of infant and maternal mortality, and early marriage the availability of good and accurate data at micro level on deaths,
birth and marriages are required. Strict implementation of the registration of births and deaths would be ensured and registration of marriages would be made compulsory. In accordance with the commitment of the National Population Policy (2000) to population stabilization, this Policy recognizes the critical need of men and women to have access to safe, effective and affordable methods of family planning of their choice and the need to suitably address the issues of early marriages and spacing of children. Interventions such as the spread of
education, compulsory registration of marriage and special programmes like BSY should impact on delaying the age of marriage so that by 2024 child marriages are eliminated. Women’s traditional knowledge about health care and nutrition will be recognized through proper
documentation and its use will be encouraged. The use of Indian and alternative systems of medicine will be enhanced within the framework of overall health infrastructure available for women.

Nutrition

In view of the high risk of malnutrition and disease that women face at all the three critical stages viz., infancy and childhood, adolescent and reproductive phase, focused attention would be paid to meeting the nutritional needs of women at all stages of the life cycle. This is also important in view of the critical link between the health of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women with the health of the f infant and young children. Special efforts will be made to tackle the problem of micronutrient deficiencies especially amongst pregnant and lactating women as it leads to various diseases and disabilities. Intra-household discrimination in nutritional matters vis-à-vis girls and women will be sought to be ended through appropriate strategies. Widespread use of nutrition education would be made to address the issues of intra-household imbalances in nutrition and the special needs of pregnant and lactating women. Women’s participation will also be ensured in the planning, superintendence and delivery of the system.


Drinking-Water and Sanitation
Special attention will be given to the needs of women in the provision of safe drinking water, sewage disposal, toilet facilities and sanitation within accessible reach of households, especially in rural areas and urban slums. Women’s participation will be ensured in the planning, delivery and maintenance of such services.


Housing and Shelter
Women’s perspectives will be included in housing policies, planning of housing colonies and provision of shelter both in rural and urban areas. Special attention will be given for providing adequate and safe housing and accommodation for women including single women, heads of households, working women, students, apprentices and trainees.


Environment
Women will be involved and their perspectives reflected in the policies and programmer for the environment, conservation and restoration. Considering the impact of environmental factors on their livelihoods, women’s participation will be ensured in the conservation of the environment and control of environmental degradation. The vast majority of rural women still depends on the locally available non-commercial sources of energy such as animal dung, crop waste and fuelwood. In order to ensure the efficient use of these energy resources in an environment-friendly manner, the Policy will aim at promoting the programmes of non-conventional energy resources.
Women will be involved in spreading the use of solar energy, biogas, smokeless chulahs and other rural application so as to have a visible impact of these measures in influencing ecosystem and changing lifestyles of rural women.

Science and Technology
Programmes will be strengthened to bring about greater involvement of women in science and technology. These will include measures to motivate girls to take up science and technology for higher education and also ensure that development projects with scientific and technical inputs involve women fully. Efforts to develop a scientific temper and awareness will also be stepped up. Special measures would be taken for their training in areas where they have special skills like communication and information technology. Efforts to develop appropriate technologies suited to women’s needs as well as to reduce their drudgery will be given a special focus too.

Women in Difficult Circumstances
In recognition of the diversity of women’s situations and in acknowledgement of the needs of especially disadvantaged groups, measures and programmes will be undertaken to provide them with special assistance. These groups include women in extreme poverty, destitute women, women in conflict situations, women affected by natural calamities, women in less developed regions, the disabled widows, elderly women, single women in difficult circumstances, women heading households, those displaced from employment, migrants, women who are victims of marital violence, deserted women and prostitutes etc.

Violence against women
All forms of violence against women, physical and mental, whether at domestic or societal levels, including those arising from customs, traditions or accepted practices shall be dealt with effectively with eliminating its incidence. Institutions and mechanisms/schemes for assistance will be created and strengthened for prevention of such violence, including sexual harassment at workplace and customs like dowry; for the rehabilitation of the victims of violence and for taking effective action against the perpetrators of such violence. A special emphasis will also be laid on programmes and measures to deal with trafficking in women and girls.

Rights of the Girl Child

All forms of discrimination against the girl child and violation of her rights shall be eliminated by undertaking strong measures both preventive and punitive within and outside the family.
These would relate specifically to strict enforcement of laws against prenatal sex selection and the practices of female feticide, female infanticide, child marriage, child abuse and child prostitution etc. Removal of discrimination in the treatment of the girl child within the family and outside and projection of a positive image of the girl child will be actively fostered. There will be special emphasis on the needs of the girl child and earmarking of substantial investments in the areas relating to food and nutrition, health and education, and in vocational education. In
implementing programmes for eliminating child labour, there will be a special focus on girl children.

Mass Media

Media will be used to portray images consistent with the human dignity of girls and women policy. The policy will specifically strive to remove demeaning, degrading and negative conventional stereotypical images of women and violence against women. Private sector partners and media networks will be involved at all levels to ensure equal access for women particularly in the area of information and communication technologies. The media would be encouraged to develop codes of conduct, professional guidelines and other self-regulatory mechanisms to remove gender stereotypes and promote balanced portrayals of women and men.