Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had once said, “You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women”. 15th October was celebrated as International day of Rural women. The crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing, has been increasingly recognized. Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas.
Women used to command acute power and importance in our ancient culture. The proof of this fact can be found in all the scriptures and even our mythological stories. We worship Goddess Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati and many others. That shows how Indian civilisation had revered the female form.
Climate change affects women’s and men’s assets and well-being differently in terms of agricultural production, food security, health, water and energy resources, climate-induced migration and conflict, and climate-related natural disasters.
Women are powerful change agents to address climate change at scale. They are key actors in building community resilience and responding to climate-related disasters. Women tend to make decisions about resource use and investments in the interest and welfare of their children, families, and communities.
Empowerment of women involves many things – economic opportunity, social equality, and personal rights. Women are deprived of these human rights, often as a matter of tradition. In rural areas, women are generally not perceived to have any meaningful income generation capacity, and hence, they are relegated mainly to household duties and cheap labour.
At the same time, we cannot just brush aside women empowerment as a policy provided it is aimed at arming the poor and the uninitiated. In India, most of the action takes place in the rural areas because India is predominantly rural. Women are simply male appendages mainly because of the feudal characteristic of life there. The laws remain only in the statute book. They are seldom invoked.
The social legislation can be effective only when there is corresponding awareness among women.
There are signs of women pursuing things after their heart. But, they need catalysts. But the question of whether the catalysts should be in the nature of public spirited men or legal fiats or both depends upon the peculiar circumstances obtaining in each pocket.
(This is the first part of the article and the remaining portion will continue tomorrow)