Starting from 1975 March 08 every year the International Women’s Day is celebrated across the world. Generally United Nations declares a theme every time. However, every nation can choose its theme, too. For example, the UN theme for 2012 is Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty. However, European Parliament has endorsed its theme: Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value.
The UN has emphasized that women and men be united to end violence against women and girls. It may be recalled that in 1999 UN had declared a similar theme: World free of Violence against Women. Not only that both in 2007 and 2009 such declarations were made to end violence against women and girls. As it appears and is evident, violence against women and girls goes unabated. That is not a good sign for a civic society in the 21st century. Such a trend needs to be curbed. This can not happen by equal pay as European Parliament thinks of. It can not be achieved by enhancing quota in jobs for women. It needs more heart searching on the part of the society. It needs a complete change in mindset.
Let us think of the conditions of women and girls in our country. It is pathetic if one visits the countryside. There is no facilities for sanitation, though the policy makes talk big things. Years back late Ram Manohar Lohia put forward before the then PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi, ‘Madam, can you think of the plight a woman in a remote village has to face in a rainy night if she wants to answer the call of the nature?’ Sophisticated urban members of the Parliament had then closed their noses! But the situation has not changed a wee bit over the decades.
We do feel pround of Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, the women hockey team, Mithali Raj, Kiran Bedi, Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chouhan and many outstanding women politicians, writers, poets, academicians and scientists. Yet the situations for women in India remain unsatisfactory. Lack of education, discrimination, dowry harassment and female feticide do derange our society.
However, there is silver line for each cloud. The pitiable situation can be reversed if our society and our policy makers recognize the presence of such conditions to begin with and then look for a remedy. International Women’s Day is a reminder to all of us and a wake up call to our policy makers. It appears this year’s theme ‘Empower Rural Women’s – End Hunger and Poverty’ is tailor-made for India and other countries in Asia, Africa and South America. Let us hope India justifies the age-old saying, ‘Gods roam there where the women are worshipped.’
Happy Women’s Day to all our women and girls in India.