Monday, Dec 04, 2023 09:30 [IST]
Last Update: Monday, Dec 04, 2023 03:58 [IST]
Physiologically men and women are different there is no argument to that. However, all individuals (stressing women here) should have equal access to opportunities and resources, and be treated with equal respect and dignity. I vision of equality that transcends physical attributes, celebrating the diverse roles women undertake.
Unveiling the Unseen Barriers to Women's Empowerment: In the picturesque state of Sikkim, where the women's literacy rate stands at an admirable 75 %, there remains a stark disparity in the participation of women in politics. Despite the ongoing discourse on women's empowerment, a subtle yet formidable glass ceiling persists, impeding the growth of women in society. The need for women's empowerment is not merely a rhetorical question but a pressing reality in a region where patriarchal norms still dominate. In a society deeply entrenched in patriarchy, women are often viewed through a distorted lens, limiting their roles as leaders or entrepreneurs. The prevalent mindset treats women as inferior, perpetuating stereotypes that hinder their progress. It is disconcerting to observe women being objectified and misused for personal gains by the influential. The double standards applied to women , highlight the deep-rooted gender discrimination that persists. The time has come for introspection – what kind of society upholds these arbitrary rules, and who benefits from this status quo? The dominance of a select few individuals raises questions about the distribution of power and the need for a more inclusive society. Gender discrimination continues to be a significant roadblock to progress, hindering the full potential of society.
Unlocking the Power of Self-Help Groups to Transform Homes, Communities, and Political Landscapes of Sikkim: During my study posting in North Sikkim as a Mahatma Gandhi National Fellow, affiliated with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and with academic collaboration from IIM Nagpur, I had the privilege of actively engaging with numerous women-led Self-Help Groups (SHGs). This transformative experience shed light on the remarkable strides these women entrepreneurs are making in rural areas, showcasing not only financial commitment but also resilience and self-determination. These SHGs exemplify a commendable ethos, taking loans and repaying them, providing a tangible testament to their financial prudence and unwavering resilience. Their ability to make self-directed decisions is not just empowering on an individual level but also lays the foundation for a broader societal shift. When women actively participate in financial decision-making, breaking the traditional norms, it not only enhances their economic standing but also positions them as capable decision-makers within their families. The daughters of these empowered women, having witnessed firsthand the meaning of women's empowerment within their homes, become torchbearers for a more inclusive and egalitarian future. This transformative process promises overarching benefits for the entire community. As these empowered women navigate the intricacies of financial decisions, the barriers inhibiting their entry into political spheres start to crumble. Their demonstrated leadership and decision-making skills within the economic domain become a natural progression towards dismantling the glass ceiling in politics. The overall benefits of this transformative process are manifold. As empowered women step into political arenas, influenced by their financial decision-making prowess, they bring a fresh perspective that challenges the status quo. The community, having experienced the positive impact of women's empowerment at home, becomes more open to embracing the active participation of women in all spheres.
Furthermore, aligning with the government's vision, these women-led SHGs can play a pivotal role in fulfilling the ambitious goal of having entrepreneurs in every home. To truly harness their potential, it is imperative that the government invests in upskilling them with a market-based approach, equipping these women with the tools to navigate and thrive in the dynamic business landscape. The transformative power of SHGs extends beyond economic self-sufficiency; it holds the key to addressing and dismantling economic gender discrimination in rural areas. By empowering these women economically, SHGs become agents of change, challenging traditional norms and fostering a more inclusive and gender-equitable society. To unlock the full potential of SHGs, strategic collaboration is not just beneficial; it is indispensable. The government's involvement should go beyond token efforts, focusing on streamlining these groups into mainstream or niche markets. This strategic alliance will not only sustain their activities but also propel economic growth within the community. The collaboration between the government and SHGs is not just about sustaining rural activities; it's a vision for bridging the gap between rural and urban economies. The strategic collaboration between the government and SHGs emerges as a beacon, illuminating the path towards economic equality, inclusive growth, and empowered communities in the heart of the Himalayas.
A Collective Responsibility: Breaking free from stereotypical norms requires a collective effort, starting at the individual, householdss, and community levels. Instead of hindering women's aspirations, society should act as a facilitator for their success. It is essential to recognize and value the contributions of women, whether within the confines of their homes or in professional settings. Empowerment should not be confined to literacy or office jobs; it extends to every role that women undertake, including those within their homes. The ability to multitask, inherent in women, is a strength often underestimated. Rather than marginalizing women working at home, society should acknowledge and celebrate their efforts, appreciating the diverse roles they play. Sikkim, with its abundant opportunities, presents a canvas where women can paint wonders if given the chance. While there is a reservation for women in politics, full utilization remains a challenge. The government's reservation for women in the politics has not been fully capitalized upon, with instances of male dominance persisting even when women hold positions of power. Real empowerment goes beyond mere representation; it involves dismantling the barriers that limit women's decision-making abilities. The journey from financial empowerment within SHGs to breaking barriers in political participation is not a linear progression; it's a holistic transformation. It sets the stage for a more inclusive, egalitarian, and empowered Sikkim, where the barriers that once confined women are replaced by opportunities for growth and leadership. As Sikkim charts its course towards empowerment, embracing this perspective becomes a catalyst for genuine societal transformation, ensuring that all woman’s choices and ambitions are respected, celebrated, and supported beyond rhetoric and tokenism.