Here is an image depicting the use of the phrase, women empowerment, over the years. Despite the increasingly widespread use of this phrase, how much change have we brought about as citizens of the urban Indian society that considers itself modernised? Let us have a look. Following are a few questions against traditions that have been blindly followed for more than a couple of millenia.
Have you ever wondered why in most cases a woman changes her name to incorporate her spouse’s name into hers? Why is a typical Indian woman expected to leave her house and settle at her husband’s place post marriage? Why does the name of a child contain the father’s name but not the mother’s?
No doubt, it was for some reason that these traditions were brought in place; but the question is, how logical are these traditions in today’s world? A long time ago, when most work involved manual strength, men were generally the breadwinners while women were considered to be the caregivers in a typical household. It was in such a time that these traditions were set up. However, today, when not all work involves manual labour, should the women still be dependent on men? Should the patriarchal form of society still continue? The British Broadcasting Corporation on 1st November 2014 reports, “A Eurobarometer survey, conducted in 1994, suggested that 94% of British women took their husbands' names when they got married. Recent smaller-scale research, however, suggests that this proportion has shrunk over the last two decades, especially among highly-educated and younger women. In 2013, academic Dr Rachel Thwaites found that 75% of respondents took their husband's names. Just last month, the Discourses of Marriage Research Group, a multi-institutional network interested in marriage equality, found that 54% of female respondents did the same.” Now, this is the kind of change we require in this aspect in the Indian society. However, in stark contrast to this, situations do not seem so bright here. The consent of Indian women is still undermined widely.
Biologically speaking, a woman endures much more than a man does. Women bear menstrual pain without too many complaints. A woman carries a life within her body for 280 days every time she bears a child. Childbirth, as we all would be well aware of, is not a less tiresome task either. Even though the so-called modernised society is well aware of the troubles a woman goes through and the sacrifices she makes, why is she considered inferior to a man?
Change in rural India would seem out of sight unless urban India takes a step forward. It is high time that the youngsters, who seem to be more advanced and rationalistic in their attitude, take up the task of breaking these traditions.
Undoubtedly , there are positives too. Women are being educated and employed. However, we should remember that women empowerment does include, but is not only limited to literacy and employment. There are also other areas where advancement is needed.
Out of doubt, there are instances of women misusing feminism to their advantage. There are often scenarios where unnecessary advantages are given to women. However, that is something beyond the scope of this article. Moreover, it is in a quantity much smaller to what has been mentioned in the body of the article. Therefore, that is a topic-area that is not addressed here.
In conclusion, on a hopeful note, what we should look forward to and work towards is gender equality. No form of dominance by either gender over the other should be considered ethical. Questions like the ones posed here are essential to bridge the gender gap prevalent, especially in the Indian society. I would be glad to see speedy change in the society for good in the years to come.
Author ~ Kush Gadia
Editor ~ Aryaa