She is the one who spends her entire life serving and accommodating the needs, aspirations and demands of others. On the one side, she showers love, affection, warmth, concern and handles her family responsibilities and, on the other, beautifully manages her personal life and career.
It is an acknowledged fact that woman throughout history has played a pivotal role in ensuring the stability, prosperity, progress and enduring development of society. The women's contribution in social transformation is undeniable. Despite orthodox and conventional beliefs, which have hindered women's growth, their role is beyond doubt commendable. History has witnessed that whenever any change occurred in socio-economic or political aspects of society, women took the lead in serving the family, and have responded effectively to new challenges.
Presently, at the global level, women represent almost 49.58% of population. The sex ratio has
been recorded as 984. Almost 47% of women are actively participating in the labour force.
Besides domestic work, women are also regularly engaged in agricultural work and on average
women cover almost 43% of the world's agricultural labour force.
In India, almost 48% population is constitutes of women. However, accepting the well-contested data of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), the sex ratio of the country has significantly increased since the last census conducted in 2011. In India, women's participation in the labour force is one of the worst, only 21%. In spite of their low participation, women are engaged actively in traditional works, especially in rural areas. It has been estimated that nearly 94% of women are engaged in dairy related works in rural India.
In our society, on the one side, woman is considered a noble, and on the other, she faces many problems that militate against the overall development of the nation. The severe problem women face in modern times is violence in various forms. Society has witnessed dowry-related nuisance, rape and mutilation.
Although, India has made major progress in various fields but gender discrimination still exist both at micro and macro levels where woman is not considered equal to man either at home or at the workplace. The patriarchy has treated women unjustly. That is why she owns only a negligible property share. Although the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act is in place, the shocking revelation has been made by the National Crime Records Bureau that after every 03 minutes, a crime against a woman is committed, a raped after every 29 minutes, a dowry death after every 77 minutes, and cruelty committed by in-laws after every 09 minutes.
Gender inequality is a vital moral, ethical and societal concern. If due to gender inequality, half the world's productive aged population does not catch full potential, the world shall suffer. The fact of the matter is that there is still a 20% gender pay disparity, especially in private sector. However, with an increase in women pursuing higher education, a gender gap in employment is widening among educated women also. Women have been given much unpaid responsibilities which have curtailed down their remunerated service opportunities. It was estimated that 22% of women give unpaid full-time care, compared to only 1% of men.
Witnessing the steady development in education, economy and technology, women continue to face challenges. They are not well represented in decisive roles. Women should regain the lost status, and initiatives need to be taken immediately. It is a universal fact that education is the only significant instrument for empowering women in society. It develops a balanced personality and brings socio-economic and cultural transformation. However, uneducated women also possess high-level morality & dignity but shallow potential opportunities for earning and almost no autonomy in the household. Educating women can play a significant part in society. It brings attitudinal change, and when they are empowered, they can assert and claim their rights, choices, & opportunities.
When women are empowered through education, they develop socio-economic, and political power; they gain more confidence and develop expressions, reflecting through their actions. Providing education and training programs that make them rediscover themselves, how to live a happy and successful life shall lead towards a positive social change which will have a definite impact on the overall happiness index. Thus, we must make all possible arrangements to educate women for a better future.
It is high time to create economic opportunities for women to realise the optimum potential of their human capital. Creating pathways for rural women, most of whom work informally at home or outside, but we never recognise their contribution. We generally call them non-working women but imagine they tirelessly work day and night either at home on in the field but are unpaid. For their uplift, we need to create a constructive, wide-ranging, and compassionate environment, have some formal mentorship and sponsorship programs, open new windows with opportunities for owned trade & commerce. We should also engage them and pay them according to their potential and capacity.
Digital technology, which has changed the entire world, can also help overcome the challenges women face in contemporary times. We can think to develop women-friendly apps to make digital inclusion. We can train them and help them to build precious digital proficiencies. Technology can also raise their financial inclusion and allow them to be successful entrepreneurs & traders.
To conclude, any step towards gender parity begins with efforts to change the biased and pervasive mindset about the role of women in society; the most complex challenge demands that collaborative and sustainable efforts are initiated. It is an established fact that strong learned women are the real agents of change. When they are supported, they explore opportunities to realise their potential and become campaigners and role models. Through this, they also become capable of raising the standard of their family and are in a position to carry this into prospective generations.
It is our responsibility to make our society a safe place to live in. Some more strict laws need to be made, implemented, and enacted upon against those who commit crimes. There is no doubt that the gender that makes almost half the world has so much to offer when no obstructions impede her. For the betterment of the world, the woman deserves much more support, encouragement. Let’s put our efforts together to make sure that our mothers, daughters, sisters, or patners in life, are safe and highly empowered.
Dr. Mohammad Sayid Bhat is Sr. Assistant Professor in Department of Education at Central University of Kashmir.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.