Women Empowerment and Indian Society
‘There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women’.
Women empowerment is not new to India. It has gained meaning in the current scenario because of the atrocities meted out to women in Indian society. If we go back in history and observe the role of women, we see that women had a vital role to play in the decision making process of all important matters related to polity, religion, socio-economic and cultural fields.
Women were equally respected in society and they had their roles carved out other than managing household chores. One important factor that contributed to the women’s important role in society was the JOINT FAMILY SYSTEM.
JOINT FAMILY SYSTEM
In India, the joint family system had a very strong significance in moulding the social norms. Children were oriented towards a strong value-based culture right from the beginning. In case of any digression from the norms, there was someone or the other in the family to check the children and rectify their mistakes. Morality was its highest and everyone in the family respected each other. The head of the family had made it customary to make the women folk responsible for taking decisions on certain matters such as finance, where they were to manage income and expenditure, stock the granary, employ farm hands, etc. there was great regard for all women and each of their roles was specified. Hence, there were no disputes within the family. All worked in unison towards the betterment of life in particular and society in general. Children learnt to emulate the qualities of the elders and because of this, elders were careful not to behave in a manner which would be copied by the children. Hence, use of abusive or disrespectful language, physical harassment of any sort, ill habits that were harmful to society or aggressive behaviour towards members of society was not seen. This led to a harmonious society that worked towards a common goal – the enrichment of life through spiritual, emotional, social and cultural well-being. Religious festivals were celebrated in the family and also as social get-togethers because of which people learnt social skills, sharing of resources, working towards the success of an event and also culturally enriching their lives. Rituals were performed with the intention of purifying the soul and also the sacred chants that were uttered to sanctify the soul that had erred had a strong bearing on the minds of the young, who were conditioned to behave properly and conform to the norms of society. The diet of the family was well taken care of because of which illnesses were rarely found in homes.
The delineation of the joint family system into nuclear families has weaned away the importance of women in the running of the house like well oiled wheels of the cart. Since the woman of the house also is working, the running of the house depends on the maids. Food is cooked without love, household chore are more dependent on machines, there is no warmth in the house when children reach home because of which they become media dependent and resort to internet surfing, TV watching, chatting with or texting to friends on the phone, etc. The end result leads to children getting exposed to the wrong influences in society.
SENSITIVITY TOWARDS WOMEN
The upbringing of children at home also plays an important role in developing the mind set of children. There are different rules for boys and different rules for girls. Boys are allowed to stay out of homes for longer duration where as girls are asked to be back home before it gets dark. Conditioning of girls along with boys will bring about a sea change in the behavioural patterns of boys. When boys come back home in time, the chance of them getting into wrong company is lesser and hence the negative elements in society will get reduced. Moreover, right from the beginning, if boys are taught to respect women irrespective of caste or creed, the perspective of looking at women in a wrong way will change. Just as a boy at home is taught to respect his sister and protect her, so should he be towards all girls and women in society. The onus lies with the family to groom the boys to think positively about women and respect and safeguard women. Since women also are into plush jobs which may be private in nature, they may have to devote late hours to work because of which they may return home late. But the anti-social elements of society who have a narrow mind set think that such women are easily available for carnal favours, which is wrong. Hence, we need to teach the boys that they need to respect women and only then will society develop healthily and the GDP will be at a high.
STRONG ENFORCEMENT OF LAW
The law of the land should be very strong and binding. A man who metes out atrocities towards women should be viewed seriously. They should be penalized for the act they have committed which should teach them a lesson not to dare to carry out such acts with women. There is need for amendments in law so that it is relevant to the current scenario. The police force should be given a free hand to exercise powers to punish the offender suitably. They should be put into remand homes, if found guilty and rehabilitated through counselling. Besides, empowerment of youth to work towards development of society is essential by creating jobs after educating them.
Universal education will raise the human wellness index for which, besides the government, industries and other organizations must come forward in setting up education centres and generate interest in the people to channelize them into skill oriented training, so that once they complete their training, they will be ready to get employment or even begin providing service in their field of specialisation to society.
We live in a world where we are self-centric. The day society begins to think beyond the individual, we will be able to bring in a transformation in the thought process of the people where there is mutual respect for the people, who will live in harmony and hold women in high esteem.