‘I’ as any ordinary woman have a question to ask… Are woman’s thoughts and desires considered? Am I there in the first place? The mere fact that “Women hold up half the sky”- does not appear to give them a position of dignity and equality. True, that over the years, women have made great strides in many areas with notable progress in reducing some gender gaps. Yet, ‘the afflicted world in which we live is characterized by deeply unequal sharing of the burden of adversities between women and men’. Sprawling inequalities persist in their access to education, health care, physical and financial resources and opportunities in the political, economic, social and cultural spheres.
Women do more than 67% of the hours of work done in the world. Earn only 10% of the world’s income and own only 1% of the world’s property (United Nations statistics). Imagine the plight of women as a whole. Around the world, a lack of gender balance in decision-making positions in government persists. Women continue to be underrepresented in national parliaments, where on average only 17 percent of seats are occupied by women. The share of women among ministers also averages 17 percent (United Nations statistics).
Some of the poor countries have, in the meantime, made great strides toward economic progress and, in some cases, such as in the People's Republic of China, a considerable degree of sexual equality has been achieved. It is also interesting to note that in recent times some "developing" nations, such as India, Sri Lanka, and Israel have chosen women as heads of state, an example that still waits to be emulated in Europe and America. On the whole, one might say that the emancipation of women is no longer a "Western" issue, and that its global implications are increasingly being recognized.
There also seems little doubt that the demand for sexual equality will persist until it has fully been granted everywhere. Even under conditions of abject poverty, boys are better fed, clothed, and educated than girls. In emergencies and in case of natural disasters, female needs also take second place. Furthermore, in many poor countries women have few rights and are early given away in marriage with hardly a voice in the matter. Backbreaking work and constant pregnancies then keep them weak and dependent.
The dominant tendency has always been to confine women and women’s issues in the private domain. The traditional systems of control with its notion of ‘what is right and proper for women’ still reigns supreme and reinforces the use of violence as a means to punish its defiant female ‘offenders’ and their supporters.
Although efforts have been taken to improve the status of women, the constitutional dream of gender equality is still miles away from becoming a reality. Even today, ‘the mainstream remains very much a male-stream’.
Written by Aakshi Kalra