No Struggle Can Ever Succeed Without Women Participating Side by Side With Men”
NOTE- To initiate the process and instil confidence, we have taken the lead by writing this Model Essay for you. Would love to receive your feedback on the same.
You also try to write on the same topic during this week. Now on, every Sunday ‘Essay Topics’ will be provided for practice.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and place was New Delhi. Apart from who’s who of the city, room was packed with budding entrepreneurs, social activists and students from the University of Delhi and IIT-Delhi. The Speaker was a known face in the field of policy affairs and economics. “Now before I conclude, does anyone have any question to ask?” he said.
A hand rose in the air, “Sir you said while the world is eagerly waiting for the elephant to dance, the elephant cannot dance with two limbs tied. Now I understand that women need to be taken along if we are to develop, but shouldn’t our focus be on more pressing matters? World over and India, in particular, is facing many emergencies like the Humanitarian crisis, Terrorism, Refugee Crisis, Financial Crisis, Security issues, Energy crisis, diplomatic wars etc. More than 250 mn people in India are below the poverty line. A third of our children are malnourished. Food security and ensuring access to water are formidable challenges in themselves, and then we have a bulging demographic dividend, which if not tapped, can become a demographic liability. Shouldn’t our focus be first on them? In West, issues of women were addressed only after society attained some degree of standard of living for all. Should we not learn from history?”
The speaker smiled, and after a sombre pause said, “Some of the problems you mentioned are there because we failed to take women along in our story of development, and some others cannot be addressed without taking women along.
George Santayana, a famous philosopher said: “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them”.
You mentioned West. In Europe, the two world wars created a demographic crisis, with young men perishing or becoming handicapped in the two gory wars, forcing these societies to accept women going outside the homes, seeking employment, and sustaining family. It is this lesson we need to learn.
Not only this, an attentive glance through history and evolution of human being shows the importance of women in the development of mankind. To be frank, the very struggle of human existence through evolution is incomplete without women. So, not only historically, even biologically and naturally, women command a strong position.
When the world was experiencing the fierce wars of all times (mostly fought by men), it was women providing the basic support (emotion, affection and motivation) to not only family but also as a quality labour (financial and strategic) in developing goods and war materials.
Ironically, when a man claims all the success of life, be it as a ruler, as a successful entrepreneur, as a world leader or as a guiding light for national and social development, he forgets the invisible support of women providing the inner peace of mind while achieving all this. He forgets the foundational values that man carries in his journey to become a successful person have come from a woman (mother/sister/wife). He forgets that behind his existence there is a woman.
It was once truly said that “behind every successful man, there is a woman”
The struggle of mankind is an evolutionary phenomenon and historical references are just a part of it. In today’s world of interconnectedness where economic, political, social, technological and environmental battle (struggle) is involved, women’s role has become even more important. It is simply impossible to imagine facing this battle without women being part of the association.
World over, women have proved their mettle in almost every aspect involving the aforementioned domains. From a great ‘Thinker’ like Simone de Beauvoir to a great ‘Scientist’ like Marie Curie, the struggle has not stopped yet. They are the major stakeholders of the world resources and one of the key policymakers occupying centre-stage in economic and political development of numerous nations as inferred from icons like Angela Merkel, Aung San Suu Kyi, to name a few.
Their achievement has surpassed the Earth’s canopy reaching to Space in 21st century. All this was made possible by the constant struggle and undeterred determination to shoulder men side by side.
India today is fighting battles across multiple fronts, each requiring energy and efforts. In each of them, women have a role to play.
India is going to surpass China in near future to become the most populous country. Many of our development gains are neutralized due to rising population. Containing this pace of population growth is even more necessary as resources of the country are limited. Studies from across the world tell that in societies where women are educated, and part of labour force, the fertility rate is low and population growth is controlled.
Of the 3Ds (Democracy, Demography and Demand) that our Prime Minister often iterates as strength of India, perhaps the most important one is Demography. Over 65% population is below age of 30, and half of it are females. Without creating opportunities to channelize this half of our human resource capital, we are unlikely to tap the demographic dividend. Studies show that in households where women are educated and are earning, there is more likelihood of marriage in later years, fewer cases of malnutrition among children, higher school attendance and better health indicators.
In the struggle to make an inclusive society, the role of women is immense as can be seen from India’s rank (108/44) in World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap index. By involving women workforce effectively, our GDP can be doubled in no time providing a strong economic backbone to the nation.
It is often criticized that while ‘India’ has progressed, ‘Bharat’ continues to lag far behind.
Rural development and agriculture remain a story of limited success. As per Socio-Economic Caste Census (2011), average monthly earning of a household in rural India is Rs 6000. Farmer suicide is a sad reality, with every hour one farmer taking his life away due to failure to repay loan (average loan amount being Rs 27,000).
Where does a woman come into the picture? Everywhere
Over the years, with increasing mechanization of agriculture, opportunities for women to work in farms have shrunk, seriously impacting household income. This is reflected in a study by University of Maryland wherein it finds that almost half the women employed in MGNREGA were employed in manual labour for first time, indicating shortage of supply of jobs and not of demand. And what’s more is the fact that rural India continues to be major source of demand of Indian economy. So if we are to ensure a sustainable household income, it will benefit whole economy.
Even after 7 decades of independence, one may ask whether we have been able to attain objectives of constitution. How come is it that even today political parties can win votes on the basis of promise of free food and electricity? Is it really success of our welfare state or a symbol of our failure to ensure inclusive growth? Issues that really matter are not getting sufficient attention. Access to water, sanitation, good health facilities, quality education – all these are the ones that should be dominating electoral debates.
But instead, debate is revolving around mandal-kamandal politics. All these are matters in which women are direct stakeholders and without their participation, success is difficult, if not unlikely, to come by.
India has lesser number of woman parliamentarians than even Pakistan and Bangladesh. Without increasing their numbers, one cannot expect issues that affect women directly be taken up.
Change and progress in any society begin with family, and parents are the first role model. At young age, we accept many habits and lessons subconsciously. One of the perpetrators of Nirbhaya rape confessed to having watched his father abusing his mother in front of him, creating feeling of asserting his masculinity by inflicting violence on the victim. In families where women are respected, and given freedom, children are more likely to grow up with liberal mindsets, thus creating an ideal base for just society.
Additionally, in a country like India, religion plays an overwhelming influence, in both good and bad way. Religion can be a positive force or a negative one, depending on how one takes it.
To be a force of positive change, it needs to become open and inclusive, and shed its orthodoxy. In almost all religions, orthodoxy is closely associated with patriarchy. Whether it is triple talaq, or entry of women into temples, rigid attitude of clergy, and secondary treatment of women has been a sad reality. While taking women along is necessary, but that by itself is not enough.
Governments the world over are new seeing the global dimension of a number of environment problems, such as climate change, ozone depletion, dumping of hazardous wastes, destruction of biological resources and of forests and the impact of desertification therefore, the need to protect the environment became imperative.
Women have recorded successes in solving environmental problems all over the world by taking the role of managers or maintainers of the natural environment, rehabilitators of the natural environment in the sense of sustainable development, as innovators in the use of appropriate technology in the creation of new environments and as an activist or conservationist.
The priority of the world is towards Sustainable Development- of which women are a primary part of.
As the world population passes 7 billion people, reducing maternal mortality and achieving universal access to reproductive health is critical to sustainability.
We need to create conditions to tap their potential and make them co-partners in the process of development. Beginning has to be made from home, school and politics.
At home, woman must be given freedom to decide their future. Men must share the burden of household duties so that women can go out and work.
In school, gender sensitivity should be made part of curriculum.
And in politics, political parties must give tickets to women. Care needs to be taken that candidates should be self-made women who can act as role models in society. For example, in Andhra Pradesh, women from Self Help Groups are encouraged to participate in Panchayat elections, and those Panchayats where women get elected as Chairperson, they get additional grants.
The struggle to achieve inclusive economic, social, sustainable and technological development in today’s competitive world is nothing less than impossible without the participation of woman being part of our mainstream agenda. There cannot be any policy that will end poverty from the world without the inclusive growth of women, there cannot be an inclusive political development of the nation, if women are not part of decision making, there cannot be fulfillment of sustainable development goals, if women are not taken into account, there cannot be any growth in economic sphere, if there is no womenomics and there cannot be a moral or value based development of society if women are neglected and subjugated behind the veil of home.
Let us end with a story. The year of 1991 is known as watershed year in India’s economic history. But something else happened that year. Something less known, and its significance less acknowledged. In Dubhagata village in Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh, women were engaged in adult literacy programs as part of National Literacy Campaign. When they came together, the issue of increasing alcoholism in men and consequent domestic abuse and squandering of money came up, triggering a spontaneous social movement against Arrack (local alcohol). The movement was not organized by any political leadership. It was women who participated and formed the ground support. The movement spread throughout the State, becoming a major electoral issue and eventually forcing a change in party in power.
This incidence has a lot of lessons for society to learn- social, political and economic.
“There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of woman is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”– Swami Vivekananda