Figures speak out loud. And in this context, they do not tell a happy tale. According to ‘Women and Men in India’, a 2018 compilation of gender statistics as of March 2017, “For all scheduled commercial banks in India, there are 23% women employees. Foreign banks have the highest percentage of women employees at 31% followed by Nationalised banks at 25%. Regional Rural Banks have the least percentage of women employees at 14%. There are three women judges out of 31 judges in the Supreme Court and there were 73 women judges out of 689 judges in different High Courts and no women judge in 7 High Courts. ‘Cruelty by the husband’ continues to be the highest recorded crime against women (33%).” According to www.data.gov.in, the total number of crimes against women in India was 3,38,954, in 2016.
Are there any silver linings?
- Rape – Rape is about power and not sex. Where men believe they can have women as they please. There is no fear of consequences and our social systems such as patriarchy allow it. The first reaction to any rape is about the women – why was she out so late, why didn’t she go home? Why didn’t she call the police instead? Not a stir about the men. Not one questions why men do what they do because the narrative is women need to protect themselves and men/ boys are like that only!
- Feminism – Feminism for me in an ideology that believes that every individual is equal and that an accident of birth that is gender or class should not come in their way to negotiate life. It believes that we don’t ascribe something permanently to anyone and allow their true nature to emerge. Like Kamla Bhasin said it’s an ideology and not biology where people often mistake that all women are feminists and men patriarchal. It’s ultimately what you believe about equality.
- Pay Parity – People are more or less getting the same pay for the same job. There might be discrepancy in pay in Bollywood however, because it’s out in the open.
- Personal experiences – Whenever I have argued a case, I have never been paid less heed to by the judge because I’m a woman.
- What I think – It’s the mothers who don’t fight for the girl child. If she has suffered as a woman why should she want her daughter to suffer? Usually boys are treated like an asset, which will support the parents in later life. It takes time to establish that even a girl can be an asset.
"It’s the mothers who don’t fight for the girl child. If she has suffered as a woman why should she want her daughter to suffer? Usually boys are treated like an asset, which will support the parents in later life. It takes time to establish that even a girl can be an asset." — Sunita Masani, Law professor
- What I think – I grew up with romantic notions that the genders were equal. However reality started kicking in when I had my daughter, realising that there were so many things my husband couldn’t do which I could, because I was a mother.
- Personal Experiences – My husband and I have always treated money like a kitty. It’s ours. It’s not just his or mine, whoever makes it.
- Maternal home – My parents treated my sister, my brother and me equally. All of us took turns sweeping the house.
- Work life - Where I teach there have been instances where women change from their burqas to mini skirts for college and then change back before going home. Women today are taking the lead in relationships, even in terms of having a physical relationship.
Founder of an HR and Wellbeing consultancy
- Corporate sector – Most women in our country are brought up to not take up leadership positions, to not be very assertive. This baggage doesn’t let them climb the corporate ladder.
- #MeToo – Women are a lot more open to complain about any misconduct now than they were a decade back. In my previous organisation our endeavour was to constantly communicate a zero tolerance sexual harassment policy and encourage women to step up and escalate when they see any signs of harassment.
- Rape – India shouldn’t be wasting time in endless trials and take severe action. Rapists deserve no mercy. It is the men who need to wake up and smell the coffee about what kind of environment they are creating for themselves. Men will have to raise their children well.
- Pay parity - There should be no distinction when responsibilities and pay packages are decided.
- Children - I would instil the same values, and sense of social responsibility in my child, whether girl or boy. As society moves ahead, it is disconcerting that stereotypical upbringing is still the norm.
(December 10 is World Human Rights Day)