By Anudhii Sundaram
In a world, which is in a mire of confusion, conflict and moral dilemmas, there is one more question that perpetually pricks my mind and soul. What does women empowerment means? Is it the empowerment of women or is it empowerment of the society through women?
As per government statistics, the literacy rate of India in 2011 was 74 percent in which the male literacy rate was 82 percent and female literacy rate was 65 percent. Out of those women who are educated, more than half confront discrimination in the workplace as well as home. The rampant cases of female infanticide, rape, molestation and domestic violence against women corroborate my point. So, the question is where is our country heading? In a society, where people worship Maa Durga and Mother Mary, we have demeaned and oppressed women, pushing them into a world of despair and hopelessness. Isn’t this a sheer manifestation of the hypocrisy permeating our society??
For the Indian society to progress in all its endeavors the first and foremost step should be to educate every individual who regards women as docile and incompetent counterparts. We have had schemes in the past aimed at promoting education among rural women, but in my opinion, besides bolstering our measures to educate women, the need of the hour is to mull over strategies to re-educate those who are short of the ability to gauge the importance of women in all realms of life.
We live in a society where the upbringing of children still depends largely on the mother. What good are we going to pass on to the next generation if that mother is illiterate? The chances are that her own daughter might become an illiterate mother one day, thus continuing the vicious cycle. We must fathom the fact that a literate man may or may not educate the future generations, but a literate woman will surely educate her offspring, ensuring a virtuous cycle in the society.
I am often left astounded and befuddled when few people obstinately adhere to their conventional misconceptions of females being feeble and fragile. When I read about the success of women such as Sarojini Naidu, Indira Gandhi, Sunita Williams, Saina Nehwal, Aishwariya Rai and many more who are acclaimed worldwide for their dexterity, I feel a sense of pride sweep over me, compelling me to acquaint those who conveniently eschew women’s achievements. All these renowned women exemplify the power of education and serve as a beacon of hope for the downtrodden women across the world.
It is high time we recognize the education of girls and women as one of the wisest and most profitable investments in social and economic terms. Education leads to greater self-esteem and self-confidence in women. It helps girls and women to have a positive impact on their families: better childcare, better nutrition, decrease in child mortality, better communication with the children and other family members. It heightens women’s awareness of the indispensable and irreplaceable role they can play in the community and society to find solutions to problems that hamper development and social stability. With the awareness of her role as a citizen, an educated woman can play a more dynamic role in addressing the economic challenges faced by her country. So, we see that right from contributing to the economic development and prosperity of the country to ensuring a healthy and happy lifestyle for the family to curbing social menaces such as poverty, the education of a woman does it all.
I am certain, by now you must have found the answer to my previously asked question that women empowerment is not solely empowerment of women, but empowerment of the society through women.
To all the girls and women reading this, let not any obstacles hurled at us by the society deter our will to fulfill our dreams. Let us as the privileged ones take the onus of educating the deprived girls and women because it is the women who are the cornerstone of any society.
(Author is a New Delhi based Citizen Writer. She is pursuing her studies and currently a STD XII student)