Women's Empowerment: Not A Copy Paste Model
By Dr.Fayaz Ahmad Bhat
07 March, 2015
International Women’s Day (IWD), is celebrated on Eighth of March every year. Every year IWD (March, 8), is specified Official United Nations (UN) theme. This year the theme is “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity.
Women’sdisempowerment is conceived as root cause of all miseries associated with the routine life of women like, their missing and disappearance at structural level of society,disempowerment,and gender bias and gender discrimination. Gender bias and discrimination, women disempowerment is not peculiar to any country or region but is a global phenomenon. However, the form and nature of women disempowerment, gender bias and discrimination varies in both space and time. According to Washington D.C, “social and legal discrimination against women remains a major obstacle to economic development in emerging and developing countries”. India has a worst record in gender equality and women empowerment. India has been ranked at 115 on women empowerment scale, as per global level survey which was carried out in 128 countries.
The birth of a daughter is still considered as a curse in Indian context. Female feticide and infanticide, rapes, acid attacks, eve teasing, sexual harassment, insult to modesty, abduction, dowry deaths, human trafficking, forced prostitution and honour killing are catalysts for women disempowerment in Indian context. Every year, approximately 1,000 honour killings take place in India.According to a report published inThe Hindu( National daily) , India loss three million girls in infanticide in 2001 to 2011! Studies have pointed out that female children are not at risk at the time of birth but during infancy also. Women in India are held to be weak- minded and unworthy, considered root of all evils.In 2012, official statistics figured 8,233 dowry deaths and 38,262, abductions. Matson (1981), identified five factors for low status of women in India and also for female seclusion in Indian culture. These are: Hindu Religion, caste system, joint family system, Islamic rule and British colonialism. At the movement when I am pressing the buttons of the key board of my laptop, news is flashing on television screens that a Dalit girl has been set on fire for pursuing education. This is not something new and rare but a workaday in the country, as per National Crime Records Bureau of India, crime against women is increasing every year, and a crime against women is committed every three minutes. The phenomenon is counted as very damaging and defamatory not for women only but for country as whole.
Women empowerment is regarded a broad spectrum remedy for women’s disempowerment, gender bias and discrimination and other forms of crimes. William Petrocelli (2014), argues that women empowerment is not only for women but men can also benefit from it. There are many ways and means identified by scholars for women empowerment in India. Observations and interactions reveal that western and Europeansocieties aregazed at ideal types and model for the women empowerment in India. However,they (who gaze at west) are misled and ill informed about the women empowerment and status in developed countries especially in west and Europe. Looking women half naked in pubs and clubs, colleges and universities, bars and restaurants…. often gives them wrong impression that women in west are free and empowered. There is a lot which is hidden and seemingly unseen. The development of capitalism, modernization, globalization and liberalization has crept new forms of social inequalities, discrimination and gender bias in societyespecially in west. The apt ideology of “equality”, “liberty’, “freedom”, “education”, “empowerment” and what not is used for perpetuating the silent, subtle suppression. The new forms of women powerlessness and impotency are even dangerous than traditional forms. Women in the west has been objectified, their bodies and soul are now not in their control. Melisa Sue, Ouagadougou and Fasco,maintain that women have no right over their own bodies. The highest gender pay gap, 29.9% has been observed in the Europe. More women in Europe and West are infected with HIV than men. In Germany it has been found that women workers become victim of sexual harassment and violence at work places.America, which is seen an ideal modelin democracy, justice, equality and what not, ranks 81st in the world with respect women representation in government. Women lead 40 percent of small business in United States but get less than 10 percent of venture capital funding, 1 in 4 college women face attempted and complete rape.Thousands of untested rape kits are said to be languishing in police departments across the US, allowing thousands of sexual predators to go unprosecuted. By copy pasting Western and European model of “empowerment” we arejust becoming what Herbert Marcuse, call one dimensional men/women where only model of empowerment, democracy,modernization, educationis observable and apparent to us. That is developed countries model, especially western and European.
There is no denying that the condition of women in West is relatively better than India but not so excellent that we will blindly follow it and become one dimensional. Before following or adopting any model of women empowerment we must understand its positives and negatives as well. The only model of women empowerment which seems suitable to any context is sociological model of development. Which aims inclusive empowerment, in social sphere, economic sphere, and political sphere, moreover empowerment associated with critical thinking and consciousness raising.
Dr. Fayaz Ahmad Bhat teaches Sociology at Degree College, Banihal, Ramban, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Comments are moderated