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Diminishing Differences and Empowering Eves

“Woman was taken out of man;
Not out of his head to top him,
Nor out of his feet to be trampled underfoot//;
But out of his side to be equal to him,
Under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved”

???? - Anonymous

Each year, from the 4th to the 10th of March, the world is awash with the celebrations of the International Women’s Week. The celebrations, which reach their crescendo on the 8th, the International Women’s Day, is a global attempt to honor the ‘feathers’ on the feminine ‘caps’, by accolading their socio-economic, cultural and political achievement. It is also a time when policy makers, social- scientists, health professionals and patrons of the ‘female cause’ put their heads together to ponder on the progress made thus far, and to consider new vistas for female upliftment. This year, the focus is on bringing equality among women, despite their differences, and to eliminate violence against them.

The International Women’s Day originated to commemorate the protest by female textile workers, against their working conditions, in the USA, during the 19th century. What ensued was a long saga of oppression and denial of rights. Subsequently with time, the struggle gained momentum, and thus the quest for rights began to be noticed and rewarded. Education has, no doubt, empowered women in a manner unthinkable in the past. Over the years, women have proved their prowess, and have shown that the sky is their limit. They have traveled to the earth’s horizons and beyond, conquering destinations that most men fear to tread.

Women have succeeded in replacing men, as masters of their own destiny. Science and Technology too, has favored women, and several vaccines, such as the one for cervical cancer, are being discovered to counter illnesses that have been plaguing womanhood since eternity. Contraceptives and condoms for women have pro vided them with more control over family planning, a concept that was earlier non-existent. A woman of today need not enslave herself for the sake of bearing a child. She may opt for the father of her child to be confined, as an insignificant number, to a Donor’s List of an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) center.

It must be noted with sadness that the upliftment of women, is rather skewed. While issues related to education and health has improved by leaps and bounds, there are many more issues that need to be addressed in a befitting manner. In several countries, women still continue to be used as commodities. Sometimes they are seen as ‘soft’ targets for revenge between feuding individuals or families. This would result in a single woman being serially raped, an act that would churn the stomach of our stone-age ancestor, and raise doubts on the appropriateness of calling us ‘evolved’. Domestic violence too, is rampant across the world, irrespective of a women’s status.

Women from various spheres, face issues that are completely different. While an urban woman faces issues such as divorce and sexual discrimination or abuse at work, her ‘country cousin’ faces issues like illiteracy, early marriage and childbirth, female infanticide and a decreased access to health care. A western woman may face issues like teenage pregnancy, drugs, divorce or broken homes, while her eastern counterpart is a victim of gender discrimination and denial of several basic rights, like education. Yet there is a lot of common ground in women – related issues and a concerted effort is to be generated this year, to even out the differences on a global scale.

There are many more avenues that need to be addressed in an earnest fashion. Screening for various cancers such as those of the breast and cervix, should be universally made mandatory . Protecting the girl-child from societal evils should be another primary concern. Prevention must be the key to usher in the all -round growth of women. It must be remembered that it is imperative for the women of a country to be empowered and liberated, in order for that country to be considered developed.

Surce-Medindia
RJA
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