Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Empowering Girls will change our world

This essay got me first prize in all-Delhi.

“The women’s reservation bill which is pending before the parliament for …..” From time immemorial, Indians have come across news clippings containing or starting with this sentence. How many more years will we have to read the same articles over and over again? Why are we so apprehensive of giving women an assurance of even a meagre 33% in the national lawmaking forum when they actually deserve 50%? Are the men out there afraid, given the fact that some of them even went on to say that they’ll commit suicide if the bill is passed? And is the lady who turns out to be the president of the ruling party insensitive to this issue? Who knows? It seems empowerment of women continues to remain a distant dream, still unfulfilled in India.

So what is empowerment in the first place? The dictionary says it is “increasing the spiritual, political, social, or economic strength of individuals and communities”. And why women’s empowerment then? Why is it needed? The answer will emerge itself if you try to realise that a population, half of which consists of the fairer sex, is governed by a parliament consisting of only 10% women. But what should concern us far more is that, we have grown so habituated to it, that it doesn’t look unnatural in any way that among 500 odd people who ‘govern’ the country, there are only about 50 who can sensitise this body towards issues specific to women. Taking this figure to a third of the total will definitely change the outlook of the parliament itself. And at least I, if not everyone, believe that it will change for the better only. And no doubt, a change in the outlook of the lawmakers, changes the world we live in.
Let’s say we have a world 10-20 years from now, where women are equally (or at least nearly equally) empowered as the men. What difference will that make that we might call it a better world than the one we live in? Now, when you were in primary school, or your children were in primary school, the first lessons of life, the first pages of education, were probably introduced to you by a “madam” rather than a “sir”. Glancing back at that, I don’t think you’d wish that it were a “sir” instead. It is beautifully quoted by Virginia Satir “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Only women are capable of bestowing this motherly affection so beautifully described by Virginia Satir. A certain affection, tenderness, and emotional appeal which the women bring with themselves is needed dearly at the top levels of governance. It is only through the involvement of women in all three wings or the government, i.e. legislature, judiciary, and executive, can we make the government more sensitive. And a sensitive government can certainly bring about far reaching on our society.
We often feel that not much is being done about the persistent problem of child labour, healthcare deficit in women, free education for all, and the likes. And the single solution to all these problems lies in making the authorities sensitive to such issues. Until and unless the concerned people stop looking at them as merely paper files to be signed, or bills to be passed in the legislature, and instead actually try to feel what the problem is like in real life, we cannot expect any improvement in the conditions. Taking the blasphemously common incidences of ‘eve-teasing, I must say that the only solution is to introduce female beat constables because none other than them can be as empathetic towards the victim. So the only conclusion we can draw is that for the benefit of not only women themselves but of mankind as a whole, we need wholesome partition of women in not only politics but in all avenues of power in our society, because as Kofi Anan says “There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life”.
Why it has taken so much time for this simple logic to dawn upon us, and why it is taking eternally long to move towards realisation of this dream, is certainly beyond the realm of my understanding. The men say that the women never come forward and the women accuse men of not allowing them opportunities aplenty, but whom are they trying to fool? Probably the most influential woman the world has seen, Mrs. Indira Gandhi once said “People with clenched fists cannot shake hands” because she had realised that the men are hardly ever ready to open their clenched fists and allow the women into the corridors of power. On the other hand, what has happened with women from the beginning is summed up nicely in the words of Alice Walker – “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.” How can women, who are just as numerous as the other sex, sit back and let their rightful places be taken over by over-pompous men?
We must remember, that the better place is always the one which promotes equality, and unfortunately gender equality seems to be critically endangered and at the verge of extinction. And yet, equality doesn’t mean women have to fight it out with the men. Rather as someone said “Instead of getting hard themselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men - bring them softness, teach them how to cry.” Yes, those are the shoes that women need to fill in, to make the world a better place to live in. History shows us that the fairer sex has always been the subdued one, the one dominated upon, but history also teaches us that revolutions and changes are never brought about by men alone. When men go to the battlefield, the women run the country. And history has repeated itself on the instances of each and every major revolution the world has seen. Today, the more changes are needed. And women need to stand up and demand their rights. And if they do not find their path cleared by itself, they might have to clear it themselves.

Arnav Gupta
XI – B, K V Janakpuri

1.    Quotes on Women’s Rights. – Pearls of Wisdom
2.    Quotes by Great women – Better World Quotes
3.    Women’s Reservation Bill, India – Open Democracy Forum
Picture Courtesy – War Production Co-ordinating Committee


  1. Its time for the fair sex to launch "self awareness programme" taking advantage of social networking site and support of fair-minded men.

  2. Many of us keenly watch the developments and then later on disappointed when the bill on Women's empowerment is taken up in Parliament and then nothing happens.We also forget about it in course of time and get on with our daily chores.Even I had passed over this mail at the first glance, attending to the other ones which appeared more urgent to me.
    Hats off to the young lad ,who in addition to his regular curriculum where he excells,could find the time and had the incliination to put forth such a beautiful essay.
    Our parliamentary democracy is under the controll of men since its inception, and as per our over all mind set,men were and remained superior to women and women did not appear to mind the way the things were except a handfull who could lead on their own.Over the years through education,with their emancipation & growing awareness women have become more vocal and with active support from a group of men who could realise that without adequate representation by the other 50% of the population,desired success in all plans related to eradication of the societal miseries of this country was not possible.Unfortunately,over this period of time the composition of the quality of persons in the Parliament gradually detoriated with more of self serving, ,short sighted and crass 'netas'(a few females also),filling up the parliament with the help of money and muscle power.Love and concern for the country and its general population have been tossed out of the parliament windows by a brute majority of mushrooming parties coming together only for the sole purpose to plunder the wealth of our country amongst them selves.They do not even stop to think what great harm they are causing to ther own country and their own future generations.Thinking over these matters the democracy is getiing older and so is the population.But never to give up-and keep striving to change -educated youth must come forward and join real politics. Not the ones that have been started by the self seeking politicians who have tasted power and want to exploit the youth for their own selfish motives.Good luck and God bless. Love Chhorda.


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