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Women empowerment is hollow if gender bias is still an issue

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Women empowerment is hollow if gender bias is still an issue

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Published : Monday, 28 December, 2015 11:10 AM

Women empowerment is hollow if gender bias is still an issue

Essay writing will be an important section for XAT 2017 exam and you will be getting 20 minutes only to write Essay in last section of XAT 2017

Read and develop points from following Essay Topic as well as 13 Classic Essays for XAT:

Women empowerment is hollow if gender bias is still an issue

Think of women empowerment and the names of Indra Nooyi, Chanda Kochhar, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw Hillary Clinton and Sunita Williams strike our minds instantly. In a ‘man’s world’, these women have struggled, fought for their rights and established themselves in the world. Each of these women, in some senses, represent the immense potential of women in general. And yet, these constitute a minority. A majority of women still struggle under the burden of patriarchy and the gender bias that exists in the society.  Empowerment for them still seems a far- fetched dream.

The fact that women empowerment figures in the common discourse reflects the disparity in the status of men and women.  On the contrary, a term like ‘men empowerment’ is impossible to even imagine because men have traditionally enjoyed a dominant position in the society. They have occupied a privileged position, not just in India, but across the world.  Women in the western world have had to fight for their rights over the years. The three waves of feminism during the 19th and 20th centuries are indicative of the struggle undertaken by women to demand rights such as equal voting rights, property ownership, equality in marriage and others, rights which men take for granted, for themselves.

Men have been reluctant and uncomfortable with the idea of women rubbing shoulders with them as equals. The increasing instances of violence against women expose the mentality of men who think of women as inferior beings. The gender bias is visible in work places too, where men are forced to reluctantly acknowledge women as colleagues, even bosses.

The stereotypes associated with women, that they are supposed to look after the household chores, whereas men go out for work, are responsible for raising children, are not supposed to be too educated, are not as strong as men, don’t deserve equal pay as men for the same work reflect the deep- rooted bias of the society. In India, this attitude is entrenched in the minds of the people, both in rural and urban societies. For instance, in 2012, the World Bank estimated that 2.5 lakhs girls were killed in India each year over the last two decades. This because several people in India prefer a son over a daughter. This bias continues in the way a boy and a girl are brought up in a family. A boy is marked to be the bread winner of the family and hence, looked after well, in terms of quantity and quality of food, educational opportunities are provided to him and so on. A girl, on the other hand, is devoid of such opportunities. They are thought to be non-productive members of a family and their roles are limited to the household. Furthermore, boys have easy access to higher education and are allowed to make a career for themselves, whereas women are pressurised into marrying at a certain age and look after their families. The practice of dowry is still prevalent in India. UNICEF estimates that around 5000 women are killed in dowry related incidents each year in India. Empowerment, therefore, remains a mirage.

We tend to celebrate the few women who have achieved something in their lives despite facing hurdles at every step but ignore the several other women who remain buried under the stereotypes and are not given support.

The government of India has been taking a flurry of measures to correct the gender bias and support women. For instance ‘Priyadarshini’- a pilot programme for women empowerment, ‘Support to Training and Employment Programme’- to develop skills of women for self and employment, ‘Udaan’- to promote girl education and ‘Sukanya Samridhi Yojana’-under which girl child below 10 years will have bank accounts with more interest to name a few. These schemes are also an acknowledgment of the fact that gender bias is a reality, that women remain a neglected lot, and until that is tackled, women empowerment will remain a hollow idea. 

Undoubtedly, there has been a marked improvement in the condition of women. More and more women are making their presence felt in all walks of life, be it academics, sports, entrepreneurships or politics. There are more women role models such as Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, Kiran Bedi, Anoushka Shankar, Aruna Roy and Arundhati Bhattacharya to inspire the young generation of women to break free from the shackles of patriarchy, assert themselves confidently and pursue their dreams. Though the Indian Parliament is yet to pass the bill which seeks to provide reservation to women in the Parliament, the number of women representatives in the Parliament has been steadily increasing. This augurs well for the future.

Education and empowerment go hand in hand. If we are to empower girls, it is imperative to give women access to education. It is no coincidence that an improvement in the condition of women has coincided with an increase in the literacy rates of women to more than 50 per cent today. It is also important, at the same time, to sensitise the men of the society on gender issues so that the existing gender bias can be wiped off.

Swami Vivekananda rightly said that “It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing.” The world can no longer neglect half its population.

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