Do we want the door opened for us, or would we rather do it ourselves?
India today is an enigma of many kinds, but on the front of gender sensitization and equality, there is a gaping chasm that separates what a woman can and cannot do. While urban India has awakened and slowly warmed up to the education and employment of girls and women, there seem to be no social advancements to creating a physical, intellectual and emotional environment that supports this. Safety and security of women after dark still looms large and there’s no telling when this dark cloud will disperse.
Urban Indian women today have stepped out of their worn out shoes of being another’s wife, daughter and mother and are boldly striding to workplaces, university classes and their independent homes and defining new, dual roles for themselves. This positive sign is a reflection of a metropolitan societal revolution supporting the advancement of women, but a lot more still remains to be done for India on the whole.
Whether it’s reservation in parliament, compulsory education for the girl child, incentivizing the birth of a girl child or sensitization of society at large, the ‘problem’ of women empowerment and equal opportunities across India still exists. Even more dismal than the policies supporting the rural development of women is the representation of women of character today. Objectified to a fault, women today for the most part are visualized as creatures of desire, rather than beings of substance.
In a focus group interview conducted by AIESEC India, with young girls aged 20-23 across the metropolitan cities, it was startling to note that all of their role models emanated from within their families- grandmother, mother and sister. While this is a positive sign that today’s families have created the right space for their daughters, it is disheartening that no singular female role model comes to the fore of a young woman’s mind.
It may be ungrounded to say that the future of India is inextricably linked to the education, development and employment of women. However, Rahel Chakola, 23, an associate in the field of interactive education in Bangalore believes that the equation is simple: Educated Women = Educated India = Developed India.
AIESEC is an organization that does not discriminate on any grounds, gender included. It is in this organization that I first understood the ability of leadership to transcend gender, race, colour and religion. Ironically, it is here that I have only had girls leading me and heading teams that I was a part of. This is the fabled land of equal opportunity where I witnessed girls succeed and supersede their peers, because of the safe, encouraging and comfortable environment it provided for their personal and leadership development.