At the tender age of 12, my father gave me a gift on my birthday. Me being a bookworm, he gifted me a book called Ignited Minds by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Dr. Kalam had outlined in that book a quote that stayed with me all my life and gives me strength even till today – “Dream, Dream, Dream!”.
I followed the path of that book. And it empowered me to educate myself, identify what I wanted to do in life, and believe that I could achieve it. It happened because I was fortunate to grow up with my parents and in a society. They gave me the freedom to think, and as a consequence, it will be passed on to my future generation.
There may have been many young girls at my age who never had a chance to grow up and become great even though they may have been more competent than I was. Why? We have forgotten to see the female gender as a powerful force to reckon with. We see her as a homemaker, caretaker of children and parents, a good cook, a good budget keeper. But seldom we appreciate her for shooting for her dreams.
Gender equality and empower
Many countries across the world have been trying, struggling, and failing for decades to achieve gender equality and empower their women to take the lead. Even in India, there are sects of the society who believe women being born in the household is a bad omen, let alone educating her and supporting her education and career. Such is the tragedy that some districts have a phenomenal female foeticide rate in India. How can we make a change, and why is it essential to make that change at all?
Ensure a healthy life to women
Many years ago, infant mortality rates and women’s’ death due to complications in pregnancy were comparatively very high. Over the years, though, that number has significantly fallen, even today as many as 800 women die every day from a complication in childbirth. This happens mainly because of a lack of essential nutrition, hygiene, and prenatal care. Shockingly 99% of these deaths are in developing countries and not just rural sects.
Ensuring that women receive the due attention in nutrition and hygiene, education on proper sexual knowledge, the know-how of the right age to become pregnant, educating men in maternal care, and new-born care, all these factors contribute to saving more lives and making the world better. It is not just true for pregnancy. Even when a woman reaches puberty, most rural sects are unaware of sanitary methods and health conditions, leading to infections and severe conditions that result in deaths.
Educating the women
Over the years, a woman has had to go through all kinds of atrocities. Whether it was the age-old Sati or the widow of today, they are still considered a downtrodden and unequal gender compared to men. Why? Primarily because they were never given a chance. Women were never regarded as worthy of having an education, advancing a career, and fronting it on the home ground. They were always supposed to take a primary education, stay at home, cook, wash, dry, and take care of the house and their future children. They were considered inferior to the male, and it has remained so for decades now.
If a woman is shown her true potential, she can read, write, educate herself, find a job; she can contribute to the home economy and bring in revenue to run it. A family has a better standard of care, better living conditions, better thinking, and funds to educate their future generation, bringing down illiteracy. Statistics show that over 62 million girls are missing from their classrooms. It doesn’t involve just gender barriers but also social evils like domestic violence, abuse, basic toilets, and child marriage. All these are hindrances when it comes to their growth and in general, the growth of the country’s economy.
The men of today’s world need a good lesson in learning to respect a woman. Whether she is a friend, sister, daughter, relative or mother, basic respect, and looking at them as someone who is an intellectual equal is warranted. Today a woman runs toe to toe with any man in any corporate, government, healthcare, politics, and science or art genres. Whether you ask her to cook a delicious meal on a stovetop or fly to the moon, she does both with equal finesse.
Yet, the basic idea of merely treating her like an equal is missing because we let it go missing in our values, culture, and etiquette. If only all parents would bring up their daughters as much as a son, and teach their sons to treat a woman with the respect and dignity she deserves, we may find ourselves living in a much better and more peaceful world.