There are many themes that are celebrated during this year's International Women's Day (IWD). One of them is 'Make It Happen' which encourages effective action for advancement and recognition of women.
Thousands of events take place around the globe to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. These events recognize challenges that women face due to a patriarchal mindset and gender discrimination, and focus on their rights and equality. It is also time to honor women who, by their extraordinary acts of courage and determination, have played a significant role to uphold the tradition and culture of their respective countries and communities.
AdvertisementGender discrimination is a universal problem. A recent study by Forbes revealed that women in the US get paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. In China, there is a huge disparity between male and female homeowners, where only 13.2% of married women have homes in their own names and the gender income gap is widening each day. Despite the achievements in technology and modern sciences, the unfortunate truth is that women continue to struggle for their rights that are as basic as the right to live - female foeticide is still a problem in India.
In an interview with Business Standard, author Amish Tripathi (Shiva Trilogy) said, "Our society behaves in a horrendous manner with women. I am not just talking about rape, but about mass murder through foeticide and systematic malnutrition."
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement to make gender equality and empowerment of women a top priority. Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, says, "A major barrier for women's health is inequality between men and women, and also among women in different geographical regions, social classes and indigenous and ethnic groups. These are rooted in social, economic or structural determinants such as unequal access to material resources, inequality in childhood development and barriers to primary and secondary education. We also need to address issues such as malnutrition, reproductive health and maternal deaths, among others."
The infamous Nirbhaya gang-rape on December 16, 2012, in New Delhi shook the entire nation. But even after two years, women continue to be at the mercy of a misogynistic society. They are vulnerable despite the government's claims of having taken steps to empower women. Rapes and sexual assaults have not stopped and today we are still talking and debating about the same.
A few days ago, the Indian government banned a documentary film, India's Daughter, by the British filmmaker Leslee Udwin. It's a film on the aftermath of Nirbhaya rape in which Mukesh Singh, one of the prime convicts in the case, blamed the victim and said that she should have been quiet and allowed to be raped.
Predictably, viewers were outraged and many celebrities expressed shock at the convict's utter disregard for women. Tennis star Sania Mirza, who is also the UN Goodwill Ambassador to end violence against women, said that she was angry when she read such statements. "When we come out as women and say we live in a society where men feel that women are a step or few steps below in some cases, men laugh it off and say it happens only in villages or in the 18th or 19th centuries. But this guy is a living example that such a mentality exists. He feels no remorse for what he did! If that's how most men think, then there's something wrong with them, or the society as a whole."
Her statement rings true when you consider that these men did not fall out of the sky and jump out of a gutter. They are part of a society that judges women based on marital status, skin colour, body size, clothing, social life and many other such innocuous things! Rather than getting self-righteous and moralistic, perhaps it's time we, as a people, accept that we, as a people, are as much to blame for rape or any kind of sexual assault. Male superiority cannot exist in a vacuum. It needs acknowledgement to feel vindicated and constant encouragement to thrive. Just who exactly do you think gives it to them?
Let's ponder on that thought this Women's Day. While we spread the message far and wide that women will not tolerate violence, let's also initiate a change by altering our mindsets from discrimination to equal rights. Happy Women's Day!!!
1. Celebrate International Women's Day 2015
2. International Women's Day 2015
3. 2015: Empowering Women - Empowering Humanity:Picture It!
4. Nirbhaya case documentary