Saturday, 7 March 2015

International Women's Day ,March 8,2015(Sunday)

Empowering women,Empowering humanity:Picture it.This is the focus of today's Women's Day.I was one of the six speakers on the panel,invited at the event organized in Lucknow by The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Lucknow  to celebrate International Women's day on march8,2015 in Lucknow.The  others were Mrs.Niloufar Pourzand,chief of Unicef,Ms. Sunita Aron,Senior Resident editor , Hindustan Times,Prof. Mohd. Muzammil,VC,Dr.Bhimrao Ambedkar University ,Agra,Prof. Roop rekha verma,former VC,Lucknow University,founder,saajhi Duniya ,and Prof.Geeta Gandhi Kingdon,president and chief Operating Officer ,CMS, Lucknow.Mrs. Farida Vahedi conducted the proceedings.
               I started my talk with the question whether we in UP and India are doing well on  gender equality front .Literacy data of 2011 showed that while male literacy is 79.2%, the female literacy is 59.2%.The gap is 20%.While in Kerala,the male literacy is 96%,female literacy is 92% and the gap is 4%. The child sex ratio ,which in 2001 was 927girls per 1000 boys , became 918 girls per 1000 boys in 2011.In Punjab , while normal nutrition status was  for 40% boys,it was  only for 20% girls.There was no data  available regarding separate toilets for boys and girls.
                 In skill development mission , when the targets for skill development were fixed , there no separate targets for boys and girls.Because the funds are allocated on the basis of number of persons given skills , and not separately for boys and girls.There is a need to allot separate targets as well as funds for boys and girls.Advancement of women and girls should be a priority on government agenda.Government websites and books on statistics should give gender specific information .Laws realted to violence against women - rape,domestic violence,female foeticide and dowry-should be firmly enforced.
            UP government has provided 20% reservation in government jobs for women , reservation of 1/3rd seats for women in three tier Panchyati Raj System,50% reservation in BTC courses as also in posts of shiksha Mitras.
        There are four aspects of gender inequalities as below:
1.Differences in Labour Market Participation .
2Differences in Occupational Status.
3.Wage discrimination.
4.Differences in characteristics.
 There are three major barriers in access to Labour Markets:
1.Domestic duties only on women .
2.Lack of child care facilities and support.
3.Social disapproval.
What is the role of men in gender equality ?
1.can men speak on women's behalf?Can a man know what it is to be woman?
2.What are the ethics and politics of men speaking for women?Why should men speak on women's behalf?
My answer to these questions is that like Abraham Lincoln  spoke and worked to abolish slavery , though he was a white man. men also can speak and work for eliminating gender inequalities.
                   It  requires a change in mindset of men and women .This requires sharing by men of household work and child care.Schools need to impart gender equal education .There should be gender equal environment at workplaces.We need to have women on selection panels for filling up of posts.
 We have a dream of equal society.It is a long march .But a  gender equal society is its first stage.Let us all work towards it.