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Women Empowerment

Women Empowerment

Celebrating women’s day is exalting women’s giftedness of life. International Women’s Day is marked as a special day for women to remember in a special way the dignity and identity of a woman. It is a time to reflect on the progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their families, neighbourhood, communities, society and country at large.

Today the world is in progress and changing its face, with significant implications on women. Women empowerment has become the buzzword today with women working alongside men in all spheres. They profess an independent outlook, whether they are living inside their homes or working outside. They are increasingly gaining control over their lives and taking their own decisions with regard to their education, career, profession and lifestyle. On one hand we have globalization, technological evolution, digital revolution and the opportunities they bring. On the other hand, the growing discrimination of gender inequality, domestic violence, unstable livelihoods and incomes, new fiscal and trade policies and environmental impacts all of which need to be addressed in the context of women’s economic, social, cultural and political empowerment, thus each one of them becoming the winds of change in this booming world.

As women are the major part of the society and plays a great role in the economic, political, and social activities, international women’s day is commemorated to remember and appreciate their overall achievements. It is a global day to celebrate women’s unity, advocacy and reflection on their small steps or actions of winds of change. 

A few years back during one of our meetings in Andhra Pradesh we came across a woman, Mrs. Sunita Dolbey, who gave a testimony of her life saying , “she became the first fisherwoman in her community”. Sunita at the age of 68 runs a training centre for fisherwomen in the village of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. After the death of her only son and being left without any support she takes up the profession of fishing and slowly gets herself empowered. Today she helps other women to secure livelihood through sustainable fishing and fish farming. Her story reflects   sustainable development which promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Of course, while being involved in the empowering initiatives, women also take care to strike a balance between their commitment to their profession as well as their home and family. Women play multiple roles of a mother, daughter, sister, wife and a working professional with remarkable harmony and ease.  With equal opportunities to work, they are functioning with a spirit of team work to render all possible co-operation and networks with each other which really witnesses the winds of change.

While it is true that women, by and large, do not face discrimination in society today, unfortunately, many of them face exploitation and harassment which can be of diverse types: emotional, physical, mental and sexual. They are often subjected to rape, abuse and other forms of physical and intellectual violence. Women empowerment, in the truest sense, will be achieved only when there is attitudinal change in society with regard to womenfolk, treating them with proper respect, dignity, fairness and equality. The world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist Gloria Steinem says, ‘The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights’. Therefore it is important to support the collective energy thus becoming the winds of change.

Last month when I visited the Commercial Sex Workers monthly meeting at St. Anthony`s Social Welfare Centre,  Mumbai Central, I encountered a woman who shared with me how she was helped by another woman to come out of the brothel and now was doing the business of Tiffin’s supplying to the families. If she was not supported by another woman, would she experience a change in her life? Therefore it’s important to extend our supporting hands to the women specially those who struggle and become the winds of change in this stormy and challenging world. 

Today one of the challenges placed before us is, How do we become more effective in inspiring change? There are various ways to work as an individual, as a member of a group, or community or an organization. We should not minimize the importance and power of the individual woman be it a mother, a teacher, a daughter, etc. Collectively, as members of groups or organizations, women have a unique opportunity to inspire change by voicing opinions and concerns in numbers. Whatever avenue we choose, we can make a difference. We can inspire change. The history of International Women’s day is rich in stories of courage, perseverance, resistance, change, inspiration and celebration. However, there is still much to be done on diverse and important issues such as economic equality, gender equality, political status and reproductive justice. Globally, there is much to do to ensure many women attain basic human rights. Eliminating violence against women and children in many forms requires action at the local and international levels. As we come together on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2017, let us remember the women who have gone before us. Let us appreciate the achievements, and renew our commitment to “inspire change,” day after day, until equality is attained for all women.

Let us work for the equality, justice and empowerment and pray together that there may be true freedom and respect so that the wind of change can sweep away all the injustice, atrocities and vulnerabilities. Let us mobilize our communities, neighbourhood and society in journeying with us to create a fascinating and effective journey in empowering women to be winds of change.  


#(Published on 06th March 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 10)