Women Empowerment – myth or reality ? – speech delivered on 13th March’15 at IT college, Lucknow

Truly speaking, I find it little strange that even in 21st century when mankind has seen the highest achievements and the highest achievements by icons like Kalpana Chawla, Bachendri Paul, Mother Teresa, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, Vandana Luthra, Ritu Kumar, Chanda Kochchar, Indira Nooyi, and so many,we are still talking about Women Empowerment !! why ?

The achievement of these extraordinarily talented ladies shows that Women are getting empowered, they are creating a space for themselves in this male dominated society and they are not to be ignored……..but the question is – to what extent ?… and the statistics are depressing..……it is extremely depressing when we look at the data of female foeticide in the remotest villages of India, when we look at the number of honor killings, when we look at the gender discrimination, when we look at the data of molestations/rapes across the country/globe, trafficking from Nepal, Bangladesh, when we look at the poorest condition of girls in Nigeria, Afghanistan, how they are treated/tortured/murdered, we don’t know how many more Malala are becoming the victims of barbarism, terrorism, how many characters like Mariams as depicted in “the thousand splendid suns” by Khaled Hosseini are victimized on this earth…we don’t know…..and  ….these are not the signs of Women Empowerment !! So the question that comes to my mind is: What is stopping women from getting empowered?  /  What are the issues that stop women from securing an equal advantage like men? / Who or what is responsible?

And answers are many…
–          Someone will blame society
–          Someone will blame system
–          Someone will blame the male gender
–          Someone will blame the legal system
–          Someone will blame the history
–        BUT VERY FEW WILL BLAME THEIR OWN FAMILY AND THEMSELVES… and I strongly believe here lies the answer to this question to a great extent.  ……..Why?

I believe it is not possible for an individual / group / community to completely change the external reasons overnight and make this globe an ideal place….it’s not in our hand in totality… It is a slow process and will take time – be it the legal system, be it the outlook of male dominated society, be it the society as a whole.However there are some things which women and their family can change from the very day a girl is born.

Let me explain…
What are the advantages of men that make him ignore women and dominate over women…mainly Muscle power,   Mobility, & Money
And what are the qualities that come within women –Affectionate, Healing power,    Humanity (ability to give birth to a human), Mental stamina, calmness, kindness / generosity etc etc
But if we look since time immemorial, these Strengths of women have turned into weaknesses which are restricting women to come forward and demand their position in the society. And it is because of the parents to a large extent. The day a girl child is born, her future is written first by her parents. If parents clip her wings, she will never fly in her life and will fall prey and vice versa. There should not be any kind of gender discrimination at family which will ensure girl child acquires the advantages that men have –

Daughters be allowed to participate in physical activities / sports which will help them increase their stamina  /  muscle power…in many schools / institutions it is becoming a part of the curriculum…but as an optional subject !!

Daughters are not restricted within the four walls of the house which will help them become mobile which will increase their outlook towards the world /

Daughters are given equal platform for educations which will help them to get recognized in the society thereby earn

And that’s what I call a true empowerment. With inherent strengths that women have and foundation of other strengths acquired through training for which parents have taken the initiative, will make a girl much stronger than a man and that is the day I look for. And with these qualities only, we see a generation of Women coming to the limelight…become role models…become politicians, pilots, astronauts, players, business icons etc etc…

So, What happens then?

The questions are now,
– even if the girls are having all these qualities, are they getting the same rights like men?
– Are they getting the same justice as men?
– Is there a balance created between men and women in the society / work front which will enable them to contribute proportionately or is it still being measured from equality point of view?

For first two points, yes, Girls are getting the same rights and justice like men. …We have policies / processes / Rules / Legislations / Laws that ensure there is no discrimination between Girls and Boys….and to a large extent we are seeing this happening.

However in the third point, I should say Promise of equality does not translate to equality. …let me give some statistics:
–          5% of Sr. management comprises Women
–          9 out of 90 heads of the state across Globe are women
–          Only 14% parliamentarian across the globe is women, in India it is less than 10%

If this is an informed choice, it is OK. But the reality is, it is not so. Why ?

Today we are happy seeing a lady employee taking equal charge as men in the office, but not ok when she delivers something less due to other pressures at home which her husband does not take care of. And also not happy if she surpasses a male colleague. And that’s why I mentioned that promise of equality does not translate to equality and in totality if we see, the contribution of the Women is much larger than a man but the male dominated society does not want to accept that very truth. So who is responsible for this discrimination?

It is the thought process which is responsible and needs a revamp. And that is possible only when as a generation like us who are blessed with various strengths take the initiative…an initiative not to change the society which is a distant dream and depends on many things not in our control but to change the thinking of one individual man / one family / one parents and things will start shaping up gradually. Let us take the initiative of teaching our sons to respect girls, his fellow female colleagues etc. We cannot expect things to get corrected overnight when for ages it did not happen, but can do our part of the entire process.

So my appeal to all of you is when you go home today and start a new day tomorrow, make someone realize that when he or she gives recognition to a woman, empowers a woman, treat her with respect and honour, he or she is not only recognizing that very woman but giving gratitude to our very existence….he is giving respect to the very womb of the universe.

…………………………..by Anirban Deb, 13th March 2015, Isabella Thoburn College, Lucknow


Also published on Medium.

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