Editor, Women are an important pillar of a family and society. Yet today, the most heated topics being discussed by feminists and women activists is “Gender equality and women’s empowerment.” Some are of the view that women are inferior to men. I don’t subscribe to such a view. I also believe we have a good number of laws to protect and safeguard women. Even the Constitution of India under Article 14 ensures that women are not discriminated against and should have the same status and position as men. This is not all, the Constitution permits the legislature to reserve seats and make laws in favour of women at different levels. So if so many laws are prowomen where is the question of gender inequality? Gender inequality lies in the mindset of each and every person who thinks that women should not be at par with men. It is the mindset and attitudes of the people of this country which creates gender inequality.
Of course I admit that there is a lot of gender equality but why does this persist? Who creates the idea that women should not be at par with men? It is all of us and our mindset and it starts from our homes. When we debate about gender equality, one should think from his logical sense that all men and women are equal right from the grassroots level and therefore equal opportunities are given to all. To me, that is the best way to remove gender equality. Today, every newspaper reports cases of violence against women daily. Like I said before, the criminal laws of our country are pro-women but the fact is that we have only laws but lack implementation. Many cases relating to violence against women are registered in all corners of the country but how does our judicial system deal with such cases? The rate of conviction is very low in crimes against women. Again the question is why is there violence against women? Is it because there are no laws to protect them? No, not at all. We have a number of laws which gives rights and protections to women but many people are not afraid of laws. Here too, the problem is not the absence of laws but the mindset of the people and society. It is very unfortunate that while we are living in the 21st century the mindset of some of our fellow Indians towards women is still biased and medieval. This is evident from the fact that even after the criminal law was amended recently to give harsher punishment for sexual offences against women, yet cases of sexual assaults have only increased.
The only way for everyone to live a civilized life is to correct our own mindset and to teach men that they should not treat a woman with respect and dignity not do anything against her consent. Recently, another important discussion is women’s political empowerment and reservation f seats in the Parliament and state legislatures. But do we really think that women will be empowered by giving them reservation? I personally feel that reservation for women cannot empower women. Even today, there are many women both in the Parliament and State Assemblies but why do they not feel empowered? I believe that women will be better empowered if they are better educated. Education can strengthen gender equality and enable women to access their rights. What is the point of reserving seats for women when the majority are not educated and don’t even know their rights. Education is the best way to bring about overall development of women. The mindset of women should also change and become progressive. Women should assert their leadership qualities. They need better academic and education infrastructure both in rural and urban areas. Once again I reiterate that women are the pillars of a good and modernized society. Happy Women’s Day.
Kynjaimon Amse Student,
Dept. of Law North Eastern Hill University