Women: In­dia’s bit­ter half

The Asian Age - - News+ - Moin Qazi

While she cooks, she breast feeds one child and watches three oth­ers. If she fails in any of th­ese tasks, or per­forms them too slowly, her hus­band of­ten feels it is his pre­rog­a­tive to beat her.

land in favour it is the ru­ral wo­man whose vis­age has to change if the coun­try at large has to re­flect a healthy, fe­male gen­der com­po­si­tion.

Em­pow­er­ment has many di­men­sions — so­cial, eco­nomic, cul­tural, po­lit­i­cal and per­sonal. When ev­ery part is trea­sured, the good un­leashed is great­est. This is the unique phi­los­o­phy the new move­ment for em­pow­er­ing fe­males “women hold up half the sky”, in the words of a Chi­nese say­ing. The wis­dom has dawned on us only now.

In re­cent years there has been a new-found ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the role that th­ese women play in break­ing the cy­cle of poverty and sta­bil­is­ing frag­ile so­ci­eties. When you em­power a girl or a wo­man, she be­comes a cat­a­lyst for pos­i­tive change whose suc­cess ben­e­fits ev­ery­one around her. Women have the po­ten­tial to turn around the pyra­mid of their so­ci­eties.

Ela Bhat, the founder of SEWA em­pha­sises the cre­ative role of women in lead­ing so­cial change: “In my ex­pe­ri­ence, women are the key to re­build­ing a com­mu­nity. Fo­cus on women, and you will find al­lies who want a sta­ble com­mu­nity. The wo­man wants roots for her fam­ily. In women, you get a worker, a provider, a care­taker, an ed­u­ca­tor, a net­worker. She is a forger of bonds — in her, es­sen­tially, you have a cre­ator and a pre­server.”

This be­lief is best em­bod­ied in the words of Nir­mala Geghate, a sarpanch (head of vil­lage coun­cil) in a vil­lage called Wanoja in east­ern Ma­ha­rash­tra, which she keeps re­peat­ing when­ever I visit her: “My fa­ther al­ways be­lieved that it would have been far bet­ter if I were born a son. But to­day he re­alises how lucky he is to have me as a daugh­ter.”

The writer is a well-known banker, au­thor and Is­lamic re­searcher. He can be reached at moin­qazi123@gmail.com

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