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Empowerment of women

At the 96th International Women’s Day on March 8 this year, we have had at least one feather in our cap to show around. That is the Women’s Rights Protection Bill, passed during the past year, although not without great opposition and several unexpected political upsets in the Parliament. The law has many flaws undoubtedly.

Also, whether our executive will implement it in its true spirit or not, is a big question. Still, for the first time, our legislators could at least take a serious and practical step towards the empowerment of women. As each and every woman would know deep in her heart, the battle for her rights has now begun.

While the passage of a special law to protect women’s rights proves the point that their lights had not been protected before, it elms no great effort to estimate that men on the wrong side of the divide are still much more in number than those on the right side. Moreover, men who support equality of women in principle seem to have divided opinion on several issues. Some of them think our women are victims of a centuries-old gender specific bias. Some others like to believe that this anti-women bias is part of an overall exploitation of all the weaker sections of the society at the hands of the powerful, be it women, poor or dispossessed.

In any case, as a matter of fact, the command of the battle for women’s rights stays in the hands of men. To be exact, the battle for women’s rights is being fought between two groups of men.

Women, except for an easily countable few, are conspicuous by their absence on the front. Most of the times, we do not hear even a muffled applause or a suppressed protest from their side, whatever positive or negative happens on the centre stage.

Women in the United States today are worried over their under-representation in top-paying jobs. They want parity with men as corporate officers much faster than at the current rate of change of around 3 percent a year, since a recent survey says women in America are still unlikely to hold senior positions.

On the other side of the globe in our country, however, women seem to be living in remote past. Their right to live as independent individuals has not been accepted yet. Moreover, instead of a being part of a struggle, they are just beginning to learn to make demands.

Undoubtedly, our women face very serious difficulties, being physically weaker, and living under severe social restrictions and constraints. Their luckier counterpart elsewhere too did not enjoy equal rights fill the close of the 19th century.

They lived more or less in the same conditions as our women do today. Things changed there not because men provided them equal rights with a stroke of pen one fine morning, but because women stood up and had to be counted. The International Women’s Day is celebrated throughout the world to commemorate the beginning of their struggle 95 years ago. We lag far behind, at least one century. Our women have to go a very long way.

They in fact have yet to start this century-old journey in the sense that, primarily, our women have to understand that it is their battle, and they have to fight it. The powerful never relinquishes their power voluntarily. The question before our men today is, whether to stand up for the cause of women or not. But instead of waiting for a sympathetic consideration by men, our women need to assert themselves. The society has already given them a good start with a law to protect their rights. They can take it as a lead and start their journey. First of all, it is our women who have to start taking themselves as equal human beings. Only then they can expect support from men in the true sense.

Source: Business Recorder

Date:3/11/2007

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