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Whenever you appear for a GD round, remember it is on lines of a debate where you have to discuss for or against the topic. However, you have the liberty to represent both notions. And it is advisable to bring out different perspectives of the same topic. The topic of Women Empowerment is a common topic in most group discussions rounds. Since the likelihood of you getting this topic is quite high it is good to keep a few facts handy on this topic. For the topic - Women Empowerment is Limited to Debates – here are important points you can keep in mind and prepare on them.
What is Women Empowerment?
Women empowerment means emancipating (liberating, unshackling) woman from the stereotypes associated with them. The definition of women empowerment is subjective and it is an offspring of a rational and free-spirited thought process which must be endorsed by both men and women. Women Empowerment is a burning issue, which has not lost its relevance in any age and time. The need for women empowerment, much like other marginalized sections arise from the premise that history has not been kind to them. Since time immemorial we have lived in a patriarchal society, where women have played a second fiddle to their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. They have mostly occupied the domestic space and were expected to look after the house whereas the men of the house are free to explore.
Why do we need to empower women?
Women constitute 50% of the world’s population. Women are the backbone of our society, family, and existence. Gandhiji said “you educate a man, you educate only one person. You educate a woman, you educate the entire family.” Women are worshiped in different forms like Mother Mary, Laxmi, Durga, Kali etc. Yet we are still talking about women empowerment reveals how little we have achieved in this respect. This is largely because we have achieved very little in terms of gender equality in all these years. It is predominantly a patriarchal society, where men enjoy a privileged position and women still need to fight for their existence. Gender equality does not mean comparing the two genders on a physiological level. That is a futile argument. It is not the physical strength that we should be equating, but the psychological, social, ideological and financial level.
Against the Motion
What factors inhibit empowerment of women? It’s a long road ahead
One of the major reasons for lack of women empowerment is lack of financial independence. The society has conventionally been closed to the idea of women earning their livelihood, as this has been considered the domain of men. This marginalizes them and ensures the hold of men over them. This dependence on men feeds into maintains the patriarchal order.
The issue of Women Empowerment has always been around yet steps taken for the same have been unable to ensure an improvement in the situation of women. In the Indian context, in spite of the passions aroused whenever women rights are discussed, the Indian Parliament has found ways to stall the proposal for reserving seats for women in the Parliament. There is a huge gap in what we say and what we do as far as women rights are concerned.
Violence against women is still prominent. There are still deaths due to dowry and killing of the girl child. The female feticide statistics in India show that almost 2.5 lakhs girls are killed in India every year. UNICEF estimates that around 5000 women are killed in dowry-related incidents each year in India.
The wage gap exists in the corporate and unorganized sector which is largely due to the gender bias. The inequality is due to reluctance that men have in accepting women at par or a higher position than themselves. Women also lack appropriate representation in the administration and policy-making committees at workplaces. It is disheartening to see that many organizations do not have a flexible maternity leave policy which can help women balance between their personal and professional life. Many women have to quit after having a child since they are not able to cope up with the demanding job profile or cannot afford daycare.
Talking about women empowerment has become a fashionable thing for the society. It is something that people want to be seen talking about, lest they be considered ‘orthodox’ and ‘conservative’. This, however, does not necessarily translate into concrete action to change the lives of women even in the personal lives of people talking about women issues. The issue is one which is hotly debated but remains unfulfilled.
For the Motion
How has the status of women changed over the years? Are they being empowered or is it just restricted to debates?
The situation is gradually changing. Women are becoming aware of their rights and are asserting themselves like never before. Parents are beginning to view their daughters not as liabilities but important contributors to the house. Women are asserting themselves like never before and creating a new space for themselves, challenging the patriarchal order in the process.
There has been a rise in the number of women who have broken from the mold to become successful, such as Kalpana Chawla, Saina Nehwal, Kiran Bedi, Anoushka Shankar and others, and steps being taken by the government to empower women, such as ‘The Rashtriya Mahila Kosh’ to make credit available to women among others. In the present government women hold important and significant positions – Nirmala Sithamraman is the first female defence minister, Sushma Swaraj is the external affairs minister, Smriti Irani is leading the ministry of textile in India.
The 70th Republic Day saw the women power in full display - Major Khushboo led the contingent of 144 women personnel, of Assam Rifles during the parade. Lieutenant Bhavana Kasturi was the first woman Army officer to lead an all-male contingent of Army Service Corps and a woman officer was part of the Army's daredevils motorcycle team.
In the field of entertainment women are no longer just treated as objects. They are scaling new heights every day. Movies and digital content are created by women like Guneet Monga, Shelly Dhar, Rhea Kapoor, Sumukhi Suresh, Lily Singh etc. who are opinionated and are paving path for many women. There is awareness created on subjects like menstruation, child marriages, women education, female feticide, personal hygiene and family planning. All these issues need to be dealt from a grassroot level and gradually a wave of awareness is spreading. The maternity leaves have been extended to six months of paid leave and up to three months of unpaid leave. These are all measures which give hope that work has already started.
It is long road ahead, but there are actions being taken outside the debate rooms.
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