The recent incidents of attacks on women and brutalities committed against them by men have attracted the ire and criticism of intelligentsia, the policy makers and the general public in India. Nearly everyone is aghast at the cases of violence and cruelty against womenfolk, and even the United Nations expressed dissatisfaction against the treatment of women by men in India. In this scenario, it becomes necessary to take steps to empower women who comprise nearly half of the population of India. How to empower women in India is a debatable subject with different people having different perspectives and ways of achieving this goal.
Recent incidents of atrocities indicate the Indian mindset
It is not that cases of brutal gang rapes and hanging of women are being reported from backward states like UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Orissa only. The gang rape of Nirbhaya, a paramedical student on a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012 shook the conscience of the entire nation and forced the policy makers to take concrete steps to ensure safety of women in India. However, merely passing laws to enhance safety of womenfolk is not sufficient as is evident from unabated cases of atrocities against them even today. How to empower women in India is a burning issue that needs to be addressed by all sections of the society, including women who are at the receiving end of all sorts of malpractices such as sexual discrimination, inequality, domestic violence, etc.
To empower women in India people need to practice what they preach
It is paradoxical that on one hand people worship goddesses and, on the other hand, they treat women as slaves and second class citizens that they have the right to treat inhumanely. It is true that some women have reached the pinnacle of success in their chosen fields, but such cases are rare.Despite all the obstacles thrown by the society in the path of these brave women, they have emerged winners and work as role models for all women in India who are downtrodden and subjected to discrimination. However, the fact remains that women on the whole are considered inferior in Indian society that is patriarchal in nature where sons are desired and daughters are hated and despised. How to empower women in India has to start at the micro level with all attempts to change the mindset of the people, especially the older population
Empowerment begins at home
Empowerment comes from power. This means that women have to be made economically independent and self-reliant. A woman should be able to take decisions on her own rather than looking at the male members of the family to decide what she should do and not do. The education system should be gender neutral and gender sensitive to let boys know those girls are equal to them and they will be punished if they dare to harm them in any manner. Parents need to treat their sons and daughter in a just manner and should not give more freedom and rights to their sons. Parents have to learn that a daughter is as precious as a son and girls are not a burden but a valuable asset for them.
Abolish dowry system once and for all
Parents remain worried about marriage of their girls as they have to fulfil the monetary demands of their in-laws. Dowry system is a blot on the mark of Indian society that needs to be removed at once. This will also remove the burden that parents feel when they have a daughter.
Education for women
Literacy rate is still very poor when it comes to the girl child. This is both because of the mindset that a girl has to go to her husband’s place and do work as a housewife and also because parents try to save money for her marriage. It is only education that can make a change in the status of women as they will be able to secure better jobs and earn decently to be economically independent.
Indian constitution provides equal rights for women and even reservation for women in jobs and legislative assemblies. There is a 33% reservation for women in Indian parliament since 2010. Nevertheless, real empowerment of women in India will not take place until people change their mindsets and accept women as equal members of the society.