Structure of the Essay:
You can start the introduction through following ways:
- Start with a general introduction/anecdote/an example/a short story/a poem/a quote/a recent event or trend etc which can help in describing the need for self-reliance.
- “I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” ― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
- “It is time to effect a revolution in female manners – time to restore to them their lost dignity – and make them, as a part of the human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.” ― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
- When Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said the following, he was tying oppression of people to the lack of progress of a society. According to Ambedkar, pushing certain groups of people down, and disallowing them from attaining their potential and gaining selfhood, denying them independence and freedom, ultimately only hurts the society, of which even the oppressors are a part. Therefore, though it may seem like a victory to the dominating class – in actuality, the entire society suffers when a significant proportion of people of a community/society are unable to grow as people, and thus contribute to the society. Each society has a class or classes of people, which have been denied societal acceptance, support and encouragement necessary to make a mark. Women, oppressed classes, poor – are just some of these categories.
- According to Deloitte report titled ‘Voice of Asia: Demographics Fuelling Asia’s Shifting Balance of Power’, “India will account for more than half of the increase in Asia’s workforce in the coming decade, but this isn’t just a story of more workers: these new workers will be much better trained and educated than the existing Indian workforce, and there will be rising economic potential coming alongside that, thanks to an increased share of women in the workforce, as well as an increased ability and interest in working for longer. The consequences for businesses are huge.” At Davos, IMF chief Christian Lagarde, quoting IMF research, said that women’s participation in the workforce to the level of men can boost the Indian economy by 27 percent. However, the reality is grim, and less positive.
- It is a transition statement between introduction and body of the essay.
- In thesis statement, you should write outline of the body with your own arguments. You should prove these arguments in body of the essay with relevant examples.
Body of the essay:
According to Economic Survey 2018, in the chapter titled ‘Gender and Son Meta-Preference: Is Development Itself an Antidote?’, despite India’s increasing prosperity, the situation of women (regarding their participation in workforce, extremely harmful norms such as preference to sons, early marriage, etc, are all very much still prevalent, though in a less obvious manner. Though in the last decade, in 14/17 indicators India’s position of women improved, in matters of employment and son-preference, India is simply not budging. And since northeastern states are outperforming all states in these matters, it debunks the myth that increasing prosperity leads to loosening of gender discrimination. In fact, the role of women evolves with development. In fact, rising prosperity has led to lessening of women in the workforce (reasons being women themselves prefer to leave work once their husbands reach a level of security at work). Also, household wealth does not cause families to become more equal towards girls versus boys – as though they may not commit the heinous act of female infanticide or foeticide, they will keep having children till they land with a male. This reduces the emotional and the physical resources available to these girls from the start, cramping their growth.
Gender discrimination is also widespread in other areas, and continues to be so. In July, Reuters reported that India was the most dangerous country for women. For once, the report leaves the middle-upper classes, and focuses its lens on the underprivileged. Like other issues, gender discrimination is a multidimensional affair – or intersectional – being moulded by class, caste, and religion as well. For example, a Dalit woman of a village, does not just have to fight poverty (by often working laboriously and also managing domestic affairs), but has to also be alert to sexual abuse, lack of institutional help, caste discrimination and of course, patriarchal constraints/abuse by her own family. Thus, she carries a triple burden of (lower) caste and class, and of being a woman – whereas an upper caste woman of urban areas has perhaps just the burden of patriarchy. Outside the urban place, the reality of women of the poor (which comprise around 60% of the country), is bleak, and same policies cannot be applied to them as they would be to say an urban, working woman.
A woman’s role or independence in society depends upon the amount of agency she gets to mould her own life, and to the attitudes of her community regarding gender. In terms of both, women are not favourably placed.
There are various schemes in place such as the over-arching Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, the Integrated Child Development Scheme, One Stop Centre Scheme, UJJAWALA: A Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation scheme, NIRBHAYA, Mahila E-haat, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana etc. All these initiatives try to lessen the burden of dependency of women on their spouses and on housework, and strive to make them selfsufficient and independent in the public sphere by trying to remove them more from the domestic sphere.
Yet, even these wide-ranging national schemes fall short. And this is because despite all the work the state puts into spreading awareness, people hold onto ancient manners of doing things in life because it is what they feel is best for them and their families, and also because it gives men extra privileges. Female infanticide is so prevalent today, that around a nation-worth of women have gone missing – a practice that has not stopped for thousands of years. Dowry Acts have not stopped the evil of dowry practices at all, with women committing suicides on the regular due to the bullying and cruelty of the in-laws. Child marriage (which though has lessened) still exists! In rural areas, brothers are sent to better private schools, but their sisters to worse-off government schools. The minimum age for marriage of men and women is still not the same, but at 21 and 18 respectively, allowing domestic slavery of women anyway. The media continues to exploit women’s sexuality, the gender pay gap is prevalent, the shaking up of the system and emergence of independent unmarried women is leading to heightened rapes in cities and villages, sexual harassment is most prevalent within families, babies as small as 3 months old are being raped, and families continue to see marriage as the only ‘safe’ option of women. Contraception and family planning is too less in most states, abortion is being questioned in cases of complicated pregnancies, healthcare is biased against women, and daughters are neglected since they are born. According to Economic
Survey, the last child sex ratio is also biased against girls, as families now prefer to keep having children till they have a boy. All of this, and many more customs and practices, exist because the society at large is having trouble shaking off age-old manners of thinking about women, and is suppressing and denying them resources and opportunities to grow. At the same time, it is holding the bar higher for them to reach – a distinct double standard indeed. Many in the country are still living in the medieval ages.
All this despite the fact that there are various constitutional measures that grant women autonomy.
India’s Constitution grants liberty and equality and rights against discrimination on the basis of gender to women; and equal employment to all. The Directive Principles of State Policy of India, which, along with the Fundamental Rights, forms the conscience of the Constitution, states:
– Equal pay for equal work for both men and women – Article 39(d);
– Provisions to be made by the state for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief – Article 42;
Fundamental Duties too frame this goal: To promote harmony and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women – Article 51(A) (e).
The Constitution guarantees reservations for women at the local governance level.
There are legislations in place which aim to give women an equal opportunity, such as the:
- Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
- Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
- The National Commission for Women Act, 1990
- A National Plan of Action for the Girl Child
- The Protection of Women from Violence Act, 2005
- Maternity Benefit Act, 2017
- Triple Talaq Bill
Therefore, it only leads to the conclusion that though on paper, the law understands the issue. But in reality, the majority of people have been unable to imbibe these values at all. Though India is, on paper, a liberal democracy, in real, it is orthodox.
The first step to any empowerment is education. Primary, secondary and higher education – all three must not only be emphasised and given to girls, but the discussion in the household must also be about the woman’s next career move. Attaining economic independence must not be stressed only because of the salary it offers, but also because it helps women grow to their potential, and makes them independent of everyone. Economic independence is the best way to mitigate many social evils. Educating men and women, boys and girls, to see more similarities between the genders than the differences, is also key to making sure that in future, it is the men who treat women with as much respect as they treat other men. Encouraging provocative thought on these matters is essential, as mere education does not make a mind less prejudiced. In fact, education has almost nothing to do with lessening prejudice. Public and private discussions on these matters are what make a difference.
Infrastructurally, many things could be done, beginning from proper public toilets in cities and in schools, safety in the public space so as to enable mobility, proper functioning and clean creches, day-care programs for working women, healthcare benefits or diligence to women, who are often ignored, proper and safe transport networks in all areas so that women can travel safely, including school girls, women helplines, women police, police sensitisation etc., are some methods that can mitigate the problem on a surface level. The real change, of course, begins with the way the parents treat the girl-child from when she is born. Family is truly the most pivotal support any child can get.
The way forward is to implement schemes and laws in the best manner. Media and the government too must take the initiative of spreading awareness. Drop by drop, the enlightenment of people regarding gender discrimination will wash away most prejudices.
There are many upholders of tradition (many of them women too) who fear women empowerment, as they see it as a break of the basic unit of a society – the family. But in reality, by empowering women, by encouraging them to become their own person, independent and capable, the family unit is only being strengthened. After the Economic Survey stated that there are around 63 million missing women in this country, it drives emphasis on the fact that encouraging women to participate in the public arena is only going to benefit the society, its economy and hence boost its growth. As Brigham Young said, “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”
One can judge a society in the manner it treats its women. A society which is sure of itself, and which cares for the growth of not only a special class of people, but all of them, is a society worth making, worth living in – a happier place to reside in, versus that in which only one group of people are allowed the right to be happy and successful. It is actually very commonsensical: the entire society benefits. Keeping in mind that India’s demographic dividend is extremely favourable placed, it is important that half of its population also matures (is allowed to) and contributes to the society and economy. Only then, can India will truly be known as that which has progressed with time.