Last year was a big year for women, kicking off with an unprecedented movement for women’s equality rights, including right to worship, abolishing of triple talaq, and increase in punishment for rape to social media campaigns like #MeToo. Women have been fighting for equal rights for generations: for the right to vote, the right to wear what they want, the right to education, and the right to equality in the workplace and the societies they live in. These battles have been hard fought, but we still have a long way to go.
India needs a new playbook for power, and here are the five ways in which you can be a women's rights advocate every day:
Stand up for what is right
There is an urgent need to change the current status of women and this can only happen if women start seeking and demanding their rights. By standing up for women’s rights and gender equality, you can spread awareness and break down barriers. In India, particularly, we need more girls to enroll into schools and complete their education. India needs to really work towards closing the “gender gap”. Many more girls are entering secondary school now, but there is a wide gap between girls’ and boys’ achievements.
Ensure that your daughters get the same level of education as your sons do, and that they are encouraged to take their rightful place at work and home with no discrimination whatsoever.
Educate every woman
Education is a very important aspect of development and the right type of education makes a big difference. Women should not only be encouraged to read and write, but should be taught their rights, especially that they are equal to men. Once they believe that they are equally capable and in no way inferior to men, that they have a right to work and earn and cannot be forced to sit at home against their free will, women will rise to demand what is rightfully theirs. That will be the beginning of a brave new world. This has been seen even in Saudi Arabia where women are treated as second-class citizens.
Know your rights
A lot of times the rights we have read about as lawfully available to us women don’t actually translate to our everyday lives. It is only if we fight for what we have been told is rightfully ours at every stage, that we achieve some sense of equality.
The question is why we should have to struggle to receive what a man achieves automatically. But, it is for us women to ensure that the rights conferred on us are effectively utilised.
Join a larger cause
If you wish to make a difference it is mandatory for you to join the cause, be it joining a bigger organisation that helps implement women laws and rights or taking small steps within your community. There are several NGOS who have taken up women’s causes and their efforts have borne fruit in many ways. See how you can help.
Donate to make a difference
Donating money for a cause that will have such a large impact on 50 percent of the population can make a huge difference. Moreover, every woman and girl deserves the opportunity to live a life free from violence and discrimination, and your donation can help in some way for sure.
India has changed considerably in the last few years. More women are entering the workforce and are fighting for their legitimate position in society as an equal. The feminist movements, the laws stemming from our Constitution which confer equal rights on women, the necessity felt for a dual income, and higher educational levels have all contributed to women being accepted as equals. The government too has realised that women should be supported in their urge to work and become financially independent, as they form almost 50 percent of the population and their earnings could lead to a big leap in the GDP.
Another big hurdle in this fight for equality is that men are not willing to give up their “feeling of superiority”. There are some men who have accepted that women are equally intelligent and capable. The gap is narrowing, and we hope that we will soon learn from developed countries where the percentage of working women and enlightened populace are double that in India. For gender discrimination has no place in any world.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)