Women: India’s bitter half
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 firstname.lastname@example.org