Once again the International Women’s Day is here like every year. Social media has gained momentum picking up women issues like gender discrimination in our society, their emotional and physical health, social and financial security, domestic violence, harassment at workplace, sexual abuse, women protests and agitations as well as their success stories and blah…! blah…..!! blah…..!!!.Women achievers are getting extensive coverage in print as well as electronic media propagating International Women’s Day. I have all praise for those actively involved in these campaigns with their full enthusiasm unleashed.At the same time, it very disappointing that all this is happening just across a span of few days, or maybe a couple weeks. What is most ironical is the fact that to mark the International Women’s Day, the enthusiasm exhibited across television screens, pages of magazines and newspapers as well as social media platforms soon fizzles out, only to reappear a year later with all the eagerness as a purely transitory ironical phenomenon. Do you think, it is enough to make the dream of women empowerment a reality..!! Of course not.Unless and until society as a whole, especially the men-folk reach out to the women in different sections of the society, become familiar with their mental, social and emotional state of mind, know the challenges they face, we can neither understand their plight nor do anything to redeem women out of a morass of discrimination, sexual exploitation and patriarchal hangovers. With an improved access to education and employment, millions of women are joining the Army, Air Force & even anti – terror operations. Yet, an obnoxious scenario emerges in the shape of working women facing sexual harassment at their workplace despite fact that the Government is committed to end all forms of violence against women that negatively impact society, hamper gender equality and erodes social fabric of the country.News Services Division of All India Radio has taken an initiative to launch programmes on women safety in order to create awareness among women. Taking a cue from it, The Regional News Unit of All India Radio Jammu on first Thursday of every month broadcasts a special programme in this context. As a media person working with this prestigious organisation which is known as India’s Public Service Broadcaster, I find myself lucky enough to get an additional responsibility to conduct a monthly programme on women safety and other related issues. It is under the guidance of R K Raina,(IIS) Deputy Director and in-charge Regional News Units of AIR Jammu and DD Jammu, something which I have been doing for last more than three years.Talking to women on different issues, topics, concerns and problems makes us realise the ground realities, threats & challenges they face in all the aspects related in this context to their professions. Talking to doctors we came to know about numerous health related issues. In a programme gynaecologist, Dr Shafika Bano shared the fact that hundreds of women, victims of unplanned pregnancy have either to go for abortion or just continue with it and in both the cases, such an approach casts an adverse impact on women’s health related issues. Female infanticide is still prevalent in some rural areas of the country and sex selective abortions, even in urban areas.Dr Kavita Suri, Director Department of Lifelong Learning, University of Jammu who had been a member of erstwhile J&K State Women Commission divulged hard realities of social setup which makes women suffer and nobody lends an ear to such horrendous facts. She holds the view that without men’s cooperation and contribution, women empowerment is just not possible.Former SHO women’s cell, DSP Aarti Thakur in one of my programmes shared her knowledge about a number of cases where women are tortured physically as well as mentally by their in-laws and even by their own parents. They are forcibly stopped to approach the police. Most women refuse to report domestic violence due to social and cultural acquisitions besides the fact that women have guarantee of justice, dignity and equality enshrined in the Constitution of India. Honour killing is also a major threat to women. If we talk about Haryana, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, the news about honour killing is a recurrent phenomenon. Quite often, due to marrying without their family’s acceptance and sometimes outside their caste or religion, daughters are burnt, beaten or shot dead.Advocate Monika Kohli in one of my programmes shared that number of women rather prefer to go on with sufferings than filing a case against their perpetrators. Similarly a social worker, writer and broadcaster, Suman Pal, with a vast experience in women and children related issues says that in the absence of financial independence the women suffer a lot at various fronts leading to mental physical as well as social harassment. Manager Women Helpline 181 Purnima Dhar in a programme shared a number of domestic violence related incidents even during the period of COVID-19 lockdown, with Helpline having a tough time to rescue the victims.Professor Majid Bhat, an expert of women related studies talks about various types of harassment of women at work places, including sexual abuse, molestation, biased treatment and harassment. In many cases there is discrimination in wages given to womenfolk as compared to men, for the same and equal work. I came across many encouraging examples also where the women with their sincere efforts and dedication are doing wonders and setting examples for others.Puja Devi, the first lady bus driver of J&K state while sharing her experience during one of my programmes told that her journey to become a driver was not easy. She had to fight with poverty, opposition of family members and above all, the cloistered thinking of the society. She takes a dig at a few from menfolk who instead of appreciating her achievement tried to discourage her. It is really unfortunate that in our country, patriarchy continues to an evil sociological reality, a curse for even educated women.At the same time she doesn’t fail to express her thanks and gratitude towards those who trusted her capability and gave her a chance to fulfil her wish to drive a passenger bus. In one of the programmes on Triple Talaaq, a participant Razia Majid expressed immense happiness and satisfaction on the law against Triple Talaaq. Razia, a working woman, writer and a social worker also has all praise for her husband and family members who support her in every step that encourages her to do better with more dedication and purpose. In all the success stories of women which I came across, support of husbands ,brothers fathers and other men was there and all of them gave due credit for their success to them. The same cooperation and support is required to bring women at par with men.An expert in gender studies, Dr Vandana Sharma from Central University of Jammu says when it comes to food, there is a stark difference between men and women in the same household. Women end- up eating the last and the least. The much-needed nutrition revolution can come about only if India takes up women’s nutrition as an agenda. Decades of malnutrition among Indian women, due to lack of access or awareness, haunt us today. With every second woman anemic, every third woman with low body mass index (BMI) and every fourth child born with low birth weight, the malnutrition nightmare has since attained a haunting and staggering status.Speaking on financial independence of women Prof Renu Nanda says our women are raised in an environment where they are made to believe that investments and financial matters are complicated and a man’s domain. Thus, they usually depend on their partners or other male members of the family, like father or brother when it comes to taking financial decisions.
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