The women have a long history of being exploited in our society. They were not given wages equal to men, were not allowed to vote and had longer working hours. And this happened all over the so called civilized Europe and America. Gradually, women go organized together to question this kind of exploitation in their workplace, which led to massive rallies against exploitation and demanding equal rights with men. The first International Working Women’s Day occurred on March 19 in 1911. March 19 was chosen because it commemorated the day that the King of Prussia (currently Germany) promised to introduce votes for women in 1848. The promise gave hope for equality, but it was a promise that he failed to keep. Then the International Working Women’s Day date was moved to March 8 in 1913. The day aimed to help nations worldwide eliminate discrimination against women. It also focused on helping women gain full and equal participation in global development.
Conventionally, women were compelled to play the second fiddle in every sphere, family or public life. But today, women have distinguished themselves and have made their identity and presence in all spheres of life. Women, today, are not only confined to domestic chores like upbringing of children, but they also form an integral part of the society and make a significant contribution to the development of the nation. This is how our society portrayed and still portrays women empowerment to be.
Are all the women empowered in the country? Whether the progress made by women is an all-encompassing factor or is it limited to a few stray cases? Has the benefit of the various welfare measures trickled down to every section and class of the society? These questions still remain unanswered in our male dominated society.
Women empowerment has been a matter of debate for long and a meeting point of contradicting themes. Even though some sections of women have benefited from this empowerment, the vast majority of them in various segments have remained untouched. Still women are considered inferior to men in every sphere of life. In reality, women perform half of the work and men ultimately cash in on their goodwill and take all the credit.
Our society is still dubbed as a male chauvinistic society. Even after decades of independence, women in our country continue to be helpless victims of male chauvinism and highhandedness in almost every walk of life. We proudly raise slogans in praise of our unity, integrity and dignity but still women are being used as commodity in this male dominated society.
Women empowerment refers to providing women with equal opportunities in all fields. It is presently the need of the hour. If the equality of opportunities can be brought about, empowerment could be easily done. Empowerment will enable women to hold the same position in any field and be treated on par with men. Unfortunately, it is still a dream in most of the countries. It is pertinent to note that only a certain class of women have benefited from the thrust of empowerment. Still women face discrimination like any other race that faced it, majority of them continue to be living in the shackles of medieval orthodoxy with their male counterparts playing a dominant role in almost everything that matters.
Gender-based discrimination and disparity are witnessed in numerous cases of sexual harassment and dowry deaths that are very common across countries even in the age of revolutionary technological advancements. In some cases, women are still restricted from entering temple premises.
Gender equality plays a pivotal role in the uplift of women. Equality between men and women has not been an easy road to travel. It has not ended yet. The solution will not be something that happens overnight. But, each little stride that is taken is one step closer to a better world for women–of today and of the future. Inequality needs to be scrapped. Women must be encouraged to prove their mettle in every sphere.
Working Women’s Day is to be celebrated as a day for women for recognizing their achievements without regard to divisions, whether ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. Let’s not make this Women’s Day as only another occasion for men to express their love for women in a way similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Let this day be a start to sense the importance of the status of women in this society. The whole world came to know the united power of women when they first rallied for their rights about one hundred and four years ago. The collective struggle waged by women for their freedom is actually not for their own freedom, but for the collective freedom of both men and women from this patriarchal world. It is high-time for us to stand against injustice that is being imposed on women by this male chauvinistic society in all walks of our life, be it professional or personal.
We are Braver than we believe
Stronger than we seem
Smarter than we think!!!!
— Aswini – Young Tamil Nadu Movement