#BalanceForBetter is the theme for International Women’s Day 2019.
Although just a law student still in my teens, I also happen to be a founder of a woman-led, woman-oriented social entrepreneurship organization – Adamya The Unconquerable. Adamya means a person, a woman who is invincible.
A few weeks back, our organization had collaborated with a few NGOs for organizing a talk program. All the founders of the collaborating organizations were supposed to give an introduction about their works. Before me, three men, working absolutely fantastically in the field of blood donation, education, and youth development etc had already spoken and made their points.
I was eagerly for waiting to introduce the organization for the very first time on a public platform. As I was about to step on the stage, one of the organizers taps my shoulder and says – Ma’am! You cannot go to the podium.
I could not comprehend his statement for a minute, could not fathom that Why would he stop me like this?
Being able to guess the confusion on my face, he informed me, “Ma’am, Swamiiji has graced the occasion. He does not face any woman. Please send some man of your organization to introduce, if you can.”
End of the story – My speech was read out by the anchor. As a feminist, vehemently arguing for women rights and the role of women in this society, this incident took me aback. I realized that for women and their rights, things are easier said than done, especially with the strong-embedded patriarchy in our culture in the name of faith.
However, to all the strong women I have met and interacted with – the first one being my mother, I am also aware and confident in the fact that it is not the victimization of the feminine gender, but the strength of it will help us achieve what is already ours.
This Woman’s Day, the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London revealed some interesting surveys to mark the occasion. The one that caught my attention was a statistical analysis which said, that two-third of the respondents believed that women cannot achieve equality in their country without the cooperation of men. Another study, a relatively positive one revealed that the attitudes of people are changing.
Accepting the premise that, we live in a male dominated world, there seems no need for a debate on the role of men cannot be underestimated in the empowerment of women. India has made appreciable progress on improvement on figures concerning female foeticide, sexual harassment and criminal penalties for crimes against women.
However, the legal system of India still lacks certain important facets – the primary being considering women equal, not de jure but de facto. Not merely in terms of inheritance laws, improperly planned reservation policies and voting rights, but in terms of not creating a situation where a woman has to fight for a law on equal pay.
The gender needs equality in terms of having the personal liberty and personal autonomy to decide the fate of her pregnancy.
The gender needs equality in terms of not being discriminated by religious places because of a natural process like menstruation.
The gender needs equality in terms of a lady-advocate not facing vulnerability in the profession or being told that litigation is not meant for her.
The gender needs equality and internalization.
On 7th March 2019, a day before International Woman’s Day, Ms. Indira Jaising made Court recognize an important, though obvious fact, through her strong statement. She said, bold and clear before the Court, ‘I am a person in my own right’ expressing her objection being referred to as Mr. Grover’s wife before the Court.
Most lady-lawyers and female law students, reading this article would relate to how often we are told to accept the fact, that we are not capable of being at par with men in the profession, or that we must refrain from expanding our careers to criminal law. How often men are told be careful of woman lawyers.
It is fascinating, that in even today’s world, a woman, on any legal document is recognized by either her husband or her father’s identity (d/o or w/o). We have come so far. We still have a long way to go.
Fortunately, the King’s College Study also reveals that about half of the population believes the gender bias and differences to be over in another 20 years. The theme of this year, being #BalanceForBetter let us-both men and women build a gender-balanced world where everyone has a part to play. From grassroots activism to worldwide action, let us enter positively in a balanced world. Being a strong advocate of third-wave feminism – let us celebrate our differences and man and woman and create a society from the eyes of both the genders and create a balance that drives the world towards a better working.
Written by – Palak Jain
Institute of Law, Nirma University