Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow
Yatra naryastu pujyante ramante tatra Devata,
yatraitaastu na pujyante sarvaastatrafalaah kriyaah!
Where Women are honoured, divinity blossoms there, and wherever women are dishonoured,
all action, no matter how noble it may be, remains unfruitful.
Indian scriptures depict women’s power, importance, and reverence bestowed on them, but you see things drifting. Ancient Hindu scriptures indicate women’s importance in society: their ability, intelligence, and patience (Karaneshu Manthri, Kshamayeshu Dharitri). Reverence to women has always been professed. Unfortunately, despite all these, discrimination is rampant in India. Preference for a boy child leading to female foeticide, discrimination by family members, sexual exploitation is all there to see.
Women are still not paid the same as their male counterparts, not present in equal numbers in business or politics. The proportion of women in senior management roles was a mere 29%. Women’s leadership is essential if we want to move towards more just and sustainable societies. Statistics provided by the UN are startling. 70% of people living in conditions of poverty are women. 40% of the poorest households are headed by women in urban areas. Even though women contribute maximum to the world’s food production, less than 10% of the land is owned by them. International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. It is an occasion marking a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. Celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness about women’s equality.
Wikipedia traced the observation of Women’s Day to 1908 when many women marched through New York City demanding better working conditions and voting rights. The Socialist Party of America declared the first National Woman’s Day a year later and was celebrated for the first time in 1911. Initially, women’s day was celebrated on February 28 in the US and then on the last Sunday of February until 1913. From 1914, International Women’s Day is being observed on March 8. It was equivalent to February 23 in the Gregorian calendar, on the day women agitated for their rights in Russia. The UN started observing the day in 1975. In 2001, internationalwomensday.com, a platform launched to celebrate and make the achievements of women visible while continuing the call for accelerating gender parity. Purple, green, and white are the colours of International Women’s Day. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolises hope, and white represents purity. In India, National Women’s Day is observed on February 13 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Nightingale of India Sarojini Naidu.
Gender equality is essential to achieve peaceful societies and sustainable development. Empowering women leads to enhanced productivity and economic growth. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to achieve full equality of rights and opportunities between men and women. Efforts must be made to end the multiple forms of gender violence and ensure equal opportunities in access to employment and leadership positions and decision-making at all levels.
The fight for gender equality is more than a hundred years. One cannot help wondering whether the world would ever see gender parity! With the multiple roles, women play, some bestowed by nature like childbearing, playing an essential part of the workforce, one need to wonder whether achieving gender parity is flawed. What we need is to celebrate women for what they are and respect them. Poverty, violence, sexual abuse is harsh realities haunting humanity and what we have made the world be. As Mother Theresa said, “you alone cannot change the world, but you can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”. Let it begin with you, at your home, the place where you work and the society in which you live. Celebrate women’s achievements and be part of bringing the change leading to equality.
The world cannot emerge from the pandemic with the clock spinning backwards on gender equality.António Guterres, UN Secretary-General
Toonlogs posted on the same topic earlier can be accessed at: