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Greater Political Power Will Not Change the Plight of Indian Women

Will the woman's plight end after she becomes financially secure, has an independent identity, takes her own decisions?

Most of the civilized world thinks so.

26 % of women population in India earn and have an income. Are all these women safe, secure, satisfied?

Then, why does the fisherwoman's husband hit her every night under intoxication? Why do we still have cases of sexual harassment in the highly educated corporate sector? Why did the rich family get rid of the female fetus to give the progeny a male child? The day all these questions ceased to be raised India would be a truly liberated democracy. Jawaharlal Nehru once said, "You can tell the condition of a country by looking at the status of the women"

6% of parliament posts are currently occupied by women. The highest political power gained by any woman in India was by our late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Did the women's status change after she took decisions for our country? The pressure of politics and the chauvinistic attitude of her subordinates made her want to prove her in every decision she took. It is said that a woman takes twice the efforts in a job than a man, who gets twice as much appreciated for it. In fact it was the more secure Rajiv Gandhi who could bring women to an almost equal status in politics. The 73rd and 74th amendment which reserves 33% of the seats for women at grass root levels in zilla parishads, etc. was brought into effect by him. The Bill of 33% reservation in parliament is yet to be passed. It states that 181 seats in lok sabha should be reserved for the weaker sex.

Weaker sex is a very interesting title. Muscular strength does not define mental capacity. God gave both men and women different bodies but the same brain. Then why are women undermined in decision making and their roles shrinked. Our Vedic ancestors realized the woman's status. In Vedic times women had equal stand and opinion. Our Goddess' were as much praised as the Gods. At least they were not beaten up, hid behind pardah or raped.

When the Moghuls invaded our country, they brought with them their tradition of polygamy. They raped Indian women and brought them to their harems after marrying them. The Indian in order to protect his woman hid her behind the pardah, kept her inside the walls and took away her freedom.

Plight of women will change only when the sensibilities of the society change. Rabindranath Tagore quoted,

"Lord why have you not given women,
The right to conquer her destiny.
Why does she have to wait head bowed,
By the roadside waiting with tired patience,
Hoping for a miracle in the morrow."

Women like Sarojini Naidu, Vajaylakshmi Pandit, Suchitra Kriplani, P.T. Usha, Saniya Mirza, Lata Mangeshkar, Sheela Dikshit, Pratibha Patil, Sonia Gandhi, and many more have indeed conquered their destiny. It needs a strong opposition to traditional beliefs and a stronger support of society to achieve that they have achieved.

Mumbai is blessed with women mayors like Shraddha Jadhav, Shobha Raut, in the recent past. They have done the necessary reforms for the welfare of the city but when it comes back to the plight of the women in Mumbai, we still have eve teasing in trains, colleges, etc. We see dowry cases; we have young girls exploited for trafficking and prostitution. Women in political power cannot change social behavior. It is something that grows in every individual. A woman can still decide to stay back and care for the family fulltime but she should get that respect, that liberation she deserves.

What this country really needs is more women to understand their individualism and rule their destiny and more men to respect the women's' potential.


Sonam Ambe