Indian women face many struggles as they follow their passions in this patriarchal world. Their struggles are not only confined to the four walls of their homes, but extend to the workplace as well. The seminar on Women in India, The Metamorphosis, organsied by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Delhi, focused on such issues on International Women’s Day on March 8.
Stating her views, actor and activist Shabana Azmi said, “Modern society has started recognising the individual identity of women, her aspirations, abilities and qualities. It is being accepted that a woman is a significant unit of the society and is also influencing the course of social as well as economic change in society. Women are negotiating more space for themselves. There has to a constant effort in considering and accepting her views in all sectors.”
Since our development model is very much a work in progress and deep-rooted challenges remain, it is time to break away from the patriarchal mindset. “Feminism should be a byword for equal rights and shared responsibilities. We should break away from the age-old thought process that feminism is about throwing men away from the system. Feminism is about negotiating for equal privileges and freedom. The biggest issue we face is the economic empowerment of women. Across the world, educating and empowering women has proven time and again to be the catalyst for rapid socio-economic growth,” said Azmi.
Speaking on the occasion, Sandeep Kumar, minister of social welfare – women and child development, Government of Delhi, said, “Our aim is to ensure and encourage social security of women in Delhi, increase penetration of healthcare and education facilities in every Delhi assembly constituency. We are glad to share that in the next budget we are earmarking the highest sum for more cameras to be deployed in strategic places across the city to ensure overall safety. We urge women to come forward and tell us what they need from us. We are willing to listen to their needs and help in every step.”
India has been developing fast, but has it developed equitably or inclusively? “Women’s role in economic development in India is about overcoming hurdles. Women in our country have been taking giant strides in all spheres of the modern world, yet we see very few women starting their own ventures and sustaining themselves on the road to economic independence. True, women have broken the proverbial glass-ceiling and many of them are heading big global multinational companies, in bureaucracy, in millions of offices – big and small - across the country. But, is there parity as compared to men? It is our society which needs to bend its rules and make regulations women-friendly. It is time we do a reality check,” said Shazia Ilmi, political activist and BJP member.
Stressing on more political participation, Sharmishtha Mukherjee, spokesperson, Congress pointed out: “While women are coming out of their homes and making their presence felt in multi-disciplinary fields, we need to look at the current constraints on realising the full potential of women in the process of economic development; the priority areas of intervention necessary to unblock these constraints. We need to focus on women and on economic development.”
Breaking the myth that women are capable of performing only certain types of jobs and that marriage must take precedence over career, Radha Bhatia, chairwoman, IWN Delhi Chapter and chairperson, Bird Group, said, “This mind-set, common to both men and women, must change. We must focus on the girl child and help her escape the traditional stereotypes that stifle her potential.”
“Women are undoubtedly the foundation of the basic unit of society – the family. Even in traditional roles they demonstrate great innovation, skill, intelligence, hard work and commitment. If we can harness these attributes effectively, India’s growth can be more inclusive and equitable. Education of women is, therefore, the key”, said, Manpreet Brar Walia, vice chairwoman, IWN – Delhi and director, The Walsons Group.