A product called Woman
When I sat back to write a word or two on women, I was completely blank. Despite being a woman myself, I do not know where to begin this write-up on. As it is long as a woman’s tongue is considered when she puts forth her point, as wide as her waist is compared to and as deep as the gratitude and respect, she is worth it.
Between the age of 17 to 24, I have had a spurt of revelations which have not been too rosy or rather have not settled well with me about the status of women. An analogy that came to my mind is; at times I look at a product, I see a woman in it. There is a value attached to it, the higher supposedly the better, it has a life, and when it expired or used it is thrown. So are the women in societies like India and much alike. There have been certain moments where I have witnessed highly subtle but equally loud signs of women being mistreated in fronts like household, workplace, social gatherings, and market areas. The signs just vary. These givers of mistreatment have solely taken the responsibility to “show women their place” or act as legal self-declared guardians of girls and women. Time and again there has been a feeling that all the hard work and sincere effort of literacy, career building, and self- made images of independent life will be destroyed for most of us, women and girls. For the ones who have had the privilege to maintain a life like that.
If taken on a scale of 1- 10, every woman rates herself and looks down the numbers below her and blows a sigh of relief. If you have a husband or a father who provides two meals a day, a roof on the head, the permission to education, what else would you need? Maybe, prayer for a new life, better yet as a boy. It is a crime to ask for emotional support, social security, and perhaps compassion for another human being leave alone a woman. You are lucky if you can read and probably ponder over it because your acquired status by birth is a five on ten.
WHAT A SHOCKER RIGHT? STILL A FIVE. Now, imagine one. A one is probably a 10-year-old sitting in a rural area, under a thatched roof, cooking for her two younger siblings with no scope of school or education in her foreseeable future. She is a mother of five children, beaten by her husband who maybe is drunk with the money she was going to buy essentials with. She is a lady who faces sexual harassment in office but stays for a mere 25,000 rupees to support her family from a financial sink.
Yet these one-rated get up every single day and continue with their lives. They tend their parents, in-laws, children, husbands, go for jobs, face significant threats on safety however reap very less on social, emotional, and economic dividends.
Those who speak against it have valid arguments on significant development and coming of age betterment but unfortunately miss such inequality, as now it’s as normalized as breathing and sleeping. The book on The Indian Women’s Journey: The Last Five Decades” is the substantiated research I am here for. It very precisely gives notes on women and how their status and stature has changed and developed with ups and downs. Young girls and women have been at the forefront of research by various Economists and development agents but most have been on papers as expected. The on-ground situation by experts in the book delves into the major structural concerns which had a decorated start in the 1970s when women were finally given limelight but eventually the struggle and efforts have gone into the shadows. As it is very aptly pointed in the same, agents of change, government policies, economic policies, labor, and employment policies from the 1980s to date have been areas of scrutiny which perhaps need just more than attention. Women in their private and public places as I already mentioned above have not just faced severe injustice but these have become millstones around their necks against any progress. Indian women’s journey by the writers has captured the essence of missing mediums of advancement, highly ineffective, slow, or missing policies wherein women came in the picture. A little progress that is seen is highly limited to the margins, but a mostly dismal situation is painted.
Mitali Nikore as an expert and one of the contributors in the book has a significant portion of human capital and women wherein, she states that the Labour force participation rate is seen to reduce from 1987–2017 which is an extremely bizarre scenario considering the development and high-tech society we live in. There is a clear indication of the factors that have led to low urban employment and education of women which are common yet repetitive about social norms, reduced reporting of women’s economic cooperation, occupational segregation, and so forth. Nikore has caught the bull by his horns and there is no hiding that women’s economic independence and contribution are not only neglected but there is a handicap, to begin with. Her chapter makes a great evidence-based judgment on the four pillars of support that India can work on namely, education, health, family support, and institutional support. She and her team have done an exceptional job in terms of highlighting the issues of women and gender equality in the real world. Women’s aspirations could not have been more pronounced than this. There is a clear lack of meritorious distribution of equal rights, pay, nutrition, attention, and literacy which has led to women pushed back to much earlier years.
A woman is taken as a second fiddle to a man and the whole humankind watches as she is not considered a human to begin with. There are still places where her growth is taken a matter of descent and sign of overpowering men under highly backward circumstances. A serious change of mindset is needed before any policy, debate, and discussion hits any platform.
There is no seeing without believing — A product can guarantee that.
Check out the book, if interested : The Indian Women’s Journey: The Last Five Decades
Photo credits: Alexander Won Wiedenbeck