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Role of Women in 21st century

“We plays many roles in our lives; if they get mixed up, it becomes dark; like when you mix all colors. Play each role distinctively side by side, like the colors displayed side by side form rainbow.” Sri Sri Ravi Shanker.

 “Women are, in every way that matters, superior to men and moreover, that this superiority is finally becoming evident in our societies.” Dr. Konner

Women superior to men – Dr. Konner, a professor in anthropology at Emory University, says in his book, “Women After All” that “Women are, in every way that matters, superior to men and moreover, that this superiority is finally becoming evident in our societies.” In making this argument, he ranges from evolutionary biology, through ethology, neurobiology, embryology, anthropology and history, with digressions into economics and politics.”

“They live longer, have lower mortality at all ages, are more resistant to most categories of disease and are less likely to suffer from brain disorders that lead to disruptive and even destructive behavior. And of course most fundamentally they are capable of producing new life from their own bodies, a stressful, and costly burden in biological terms, to which men literally add only the tiniest biological contribution – and one that in the not-too-distant future could probably be done without.” In addition, women’s superiority in judgement, their trustworthiness, reliability, fairness working and playing well with others relative freedom from distracting sexual impulses and lower levels of prejudice, bigotry and violence make them biologically superior. (The wall street journal, March 28-29, 2015)

Already broken glass ceilings – There is no doubt that 21st century women have already broken all glass-ceilings, moved forward and joined ‘man’ in all kinds of nation-building activities – be it social, political, economic, technical or professional. They work shoulder-to-shoulder with men, and are second to none in any sphere of work, be it industry, politics, social works and social reforms, administration, business, civil services, or in army, which are far away from her traditional role of a home-maker. They have proved their worth in all spheres.

 Despite all that, it is quite natural for women to enter into family life along with the opposite sex – men, where their role is complementary and not competitive. Together they raise a family, take care of future generation and prepare them to face the challenges in life.

Women’s Issues – If so, then where is the problem?  Many liberated females with negative mind-set think that they have to teach males a lesson, prove their worth in those areas as well, which were earlier regarded as man’s domain, show their superiority and make men understand women’s contribution to society.  Women desire to go ahead of men everywhere and dictate their own terms all the time.

Then, balancing career with familial responsibilities has always been a tough job and a very crucial issue in women’s life. Earlier in 20th and before, the main issues of women were of physical strain, constant psychological pressures to conform to socially induced images of femininity – to be a good wife, perfect mother, efficient home-maker. Their concerns revolved around issues like dowry, domestic violence, rape, equal opportunities and equal pay etc.

 Keeping balance in femininity and ambitions – After info-tech revolution of 1970’s, technological advancements have changed the role of women to a great extent. Along with it, changed her perspective, ambitions and equations with others. Economic independence has made women stronger, more confident and more vocal. Now they are aware and well-informed about their needs, problems and solutions.

For a woman, generally both family and career are equally important now. In order to maintain a fine balance between femininity and her ambitions, at every stage of life, she has to face many challenges and many a times it becomes difficult to do justice with the both – her familial liabilities and responsibilities at work place.  She needs to set priorities rationally after analyzing what is more important ‘right now’. She has to make many compromises. Most of women have to make compromises at home front.

Women in India

Immediately after independence, in 1950′s, free young India embodied a liberal and inclusive vision of India. People understood and interpreted liberally the problems of caste, gender, community, rural-urban areas, meaning of social-economic-legal justice and attempted to resolve the issues rationally.

The years during 1950′s and 60′s were the times of social and political turmoil. Society was in general conservative, attitude hardly rebellion against social norms, talks being all about sacrifice. However Gender bias started vanishing. 1970′s and 80′s was the period of transition, when though people were still family and society-oriented, rebellion attitude started. The government and society put emphasis on women’s education. The number of educated women in urban areas gradually increased. A new wave swept across the woman’s world – many young women joined the workforce becoming students, teachers, administrators or activists in different social movements. They achieved success in various fields.

Women acquired more education, economic and social power on their own without craving for any concession unlike other so-called weaker sections of society like SCs, STs or OBCs. In 1990′s, rebellion attitude became dominant. Family and society were considered major obstacles on the way to progress. In matter of employment, it is not so difficult for women to get employment/jobs, as it was earlier. Women were placed more or less on equal footing with men.

 Movement of ‘Women-lib’ – With economic independence of women, gender relationships and norms have undergone a sea-change because of changed socio-economic atmosphere and a change in expectations. It has ironically increased conflicts. The pressures on men has increased. A drastic transition has taken place in the roles of both males and females within family. Men tried to share with women the work of rearing up infants and toddlers as well as doing other household chores.  Also his say in family matters is diminishing. Usually voice of the lady of the house prevails, men finds himself in a helpless position.

“Who wears the pants in the family”? – Now a days, women plays a major role within a family, assume almost all the rights to take all major decisions and to dictate her own terms. She does whatever she wants to do and enjoys life in her own way. There is no denial to the fact that full freedom should be given to women to make her own decisions and to lead her life the way she wants. But it should be done in a  decent, balanced and civilized manner by exercising some amount of self-control and self-discipline, so that her actions does not adversely affect the feelings or living of other family-members.

Mindset of present generation’s young women – For many modern young women nothing, but ‘self’ matters in life. As movement of women’s lib along with the ideas like “I will do what I want”, “I do not care for anybody” has gained momentum, They pay more attention to grab more power, earn more money and further their careers at any cost. In some cases, they desire to set themselves free from all bondage of kinship. Some of them prefer to go far away from their native place to enjoy more freedom and settle down in unknown places or in foreign lands, to free themselves from any kind of social pressure, lead their life, the way they want, get total control over activities of their spouses and enforce on everybody in the family their own dictates/rules.

“Men from Mars, women from Venus?” – Thinking, working style, personal qualifications and abilities and sense of responsibility differ from person to person. It does not necessarily depend on one’s ‘gender’. It is unfair to generalize attributes of men-women on gender ground. However, nature has created some things in such a way that it is difficult to ignore gender gap – in physique, mindset, style of working and attitudes of men and women. It is difficult for a woman, how-so-ever hard she tries to bring to an end those inherent dissimilarities bestowed by nature itself.

Usually men are by nature more rational/sensible, more focused, faster in taking decisions or actions, less reactive and considerate. They have more physical strength, energy and authority. It is difficult for a woman ignore the charm of his physical strength and his ability to provide her and her family security – as a husband, father or son. As far as women are concerned, they are more loving, more caring and more social and maintain harmonious relationship with people around them. They have understanding and capacity to think practically. They are more attractive. However, sometimes the confidence gap in females tend them to look up to their male counter-parts to boost up their morale.

Roles of men and women in family are complementary, not competitive – Healthy relationship between couples makes the world more colourful, comfortable and give each other purpose of life. It gives them incentive to work hard, move forward and make everybody happy within the family.  But when they work on impulses and emotions, life becomes difficult for the whole family, as it is practically impossible for an impulsive mind to think rationally.

Women wants from the society and its male-members –

  • Change in its perspective/mindset about women’s role,
  • Not to be treated as commodities,
  • Respect and love,
  • To feel their difficulties/hardships they face in their day-to-day life.
  • Help them to make this world a better place for future generation,
  • Women should not just be given importance for a day or two, but every day throughout the year.
  • She can walk fearlessly anywhere at any point of time. Incidents of violence – filicide, rape, human trafficking against women be controlled.

More than equality and independence, women like when males open doors and pull out a chair for them.

 Conclusion

“Michelle Obama’s” role played sensibly and positively as a career woman and homemaker is a classic example for all. Of the two Obamas, Michelle, wife of American President Obama  (America’s first African-American First Lady) has been more successful professionally, when studying in Harvard Law School, working as a lawyer, as an associate dean at the University of Chicago and eventually as a highly paid executive at the university hospital. As her husband’s career took off, she became a steading force behind her husband. Instead of becoming an intensely political first lady, she championed mostly non-political causes. When she makes the case of healthier school lunches, she sounds like a parent, not a politician. She seems to have made a point of keeping family routine intact despite the pressures if life in the White House. She has instructed her staff to avoid events after 5 p.m. so that she could have dinner with her daughters, just as she did with her own parents on South Euclid Avenue. (Quoted from The Wall Street Journal, 8.4.2015, P. A 11)

No one – man or woman – should try to impose one’s superiority on the other. Both should accept life as it comes, discipline their mind-sets to face together the challenges in life. As a couple, both husband and wife, the main pillars of the family life, are supposed to supplement each-others weaknesses and become a stronger unit to give required support to other dependent members of the family. Harmonious relationship between husband and wife makes life interesting, enjoyable and worthwhile for themselves as well as for everybody else in the family and society.

Seeing the strengths and weaknesses of both the sexes, it can be said that roles of men and women within a family and society are complimentary and not competitive. A women should not try to ape. There is much more grace in femininity rather than talking, acting and behaving like man.

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January 16, 2016 Posted by | Education and training of civil services, Women's issues | | Leave a comment

Making nation a better place to live in for women

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“Respect for women and their rights flow from the ancient traditions of Indian civilization and are now enshrined into the Constitution and laws of modern India.” Dina Nath Batra, A famous historian of Ancient India.
“Violence against women remains one of the invisible and under-recognized pandemics of our time.’ (Nicole Kidman)
Introduction Continue reading

October 24, 2015 Posted by | Women's issues | , | Leave a comment

Role of a mother

“Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement, and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent.” Bob Keeshan

“When there is a loving and caring mother at home, there will be order in the family, then in society and in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”

            “If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the mother, the father,  and the teacher.”

                                                                     Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

The tragic incidents of murders of Arushi Talwar, a teenager daughter of Doctor Talwar and Sheena Bora, D/o of Indrani Mukherji are thought-provoking. One wonders how can a mother/father murder their own daughter? Can a mother be so in-sensitive because of her busy schedule that she has to depend blindly on domestic help? Or as heartless as Indrani Mukherji is? Is it not the responsibility of a mother to save her child from all kinds of problems?

Motherhood is the most wonderful experience in the life of a woman. Mothers are the pivot around whom the whole family revolves. They hold family together, make tough decisions, takes care of each member with love and makes everybody comfortable. Mother is everything for her children. She generates confidence in her children and gives them strength when they go through all the ups and downs, successes and failures later in life.

Divine pleasure in watching their child grow

It is a divine pleasure constantly for a mother to watch her child grow at each and every step. It is full of wonders. Innocent questions asked by a toddler gives many insights into the little and pure world of her child. Many a times she finds it difficult to answer the innocent questions of her child. Her comments/answers inspire and guide the children. Sometimes the insights of children astound mothers. Taking care of a child makes her matured and gives her a sense of fulfillment. More time she spends together is better both the child and mother feel.

Sacrifices her today

Every mother, on her own,  willingly and happily sacrifices her today’s comforts, does everything in her power, she can do for her children – sacrifices her day and night sleep while taking care of a baby, devotes her youth to take proper care of a new life – she has brought into this world – nourishes the baby, brings it up, makes the child comfortable and prepares her children to face the realities of life, when they grow up. Every mother does her best to make a healthier, happier and prosperous future for her children. It is because of her invaluable contribution to the family, society and nation for giving confident and responsible persons/citizens that it is said in Indian scriptures that one can never repay two persons – mother and father.

Changing scenario

Twentieth first century has brought many changes in the mother’s role throughout the world. Modern women are keen to be economically independent, having their own identity. Legally they have got freedom, equality, and access to education and employment. They have broken all glass ceilings in every sphere – be it  economic, political and social – and become bolder and more empowered now through their own efforts and government’s intervention.

Women have entered into the domains which were earlier completely under male domination and worked with them. They have also become career -minded like men. They became more confident. Gradual and greater awareness and realization of their direct contribution to improve the living conditions of the family make them bold. Now they question the stereo type assumptions of motherhood and responsibilities that go along with that. The older typical image, slowly and slowly, is getting diffused and diversified. Modern women are willing to make some compromises at familial front and seek greater support of their male spouses in the upbringing of children.

Modern career women considers themselves as friendly mothers, having a sense of self-realization in  taking good care of their kids, giving them their quality of time and try their best to inculcate in children good values. In her effort to do justice to both the role of an excellent mother and a career woman, she needs more energy.

Over-burdened mothers – In modern two income-group nuclear families, a mother of a small kid is over-burdened. Earlier in joint family system, responsibility of taking care of babies and kids was shared with other members of the family, therefore it was not so difficult, but without proper and reliable support systems, taking proper care of babies and toddlers has become very difficult even for young mothers.

The thinking is changing again slowly, taking a u-turn everywhere.  A young mother has to fulfil familial responsibilities including taking care of small children. Concerns of a young mother, having the responsibilities of raising up her babies into toddlers and then teenagers, can range from sheer logistic problems associated with providing proper child-care to emotional challenges because of not being physically there, when her children need her the most. Her husband is expected to participate actively in rearing up the children and help the mother in household chores.

Young mothers face many difficulties/challenges. Strains of modern living, nuclear family system, stressful and working long hours in offices and then late marriage put so much strain on woman body that that factors like stress, weight change, age, medicines disrupt the balance of her hormones. It is becoming difficult for a working woman to give birth to a normal child.

The major responsibility of taking care of home, having  growing up children usually falls on the shoulders of wife/mother alone, which in itself is a full-time job. Working women hardly get enough time to devote on proper upbringing of young children. They need  some reliable support systems to help them out in fulfilling her familial responsibilities. Modern support-systems – help and supervision of others including grandparents, domestic servants, crutches, day-care centres, maids, driver, child minders or hobby class teachers etc. is always available to young working parents, but does it works out as desired?

Quite often dependence on old parents for taking care of growing up children and household chores, becomes problematic because of their old age and failing energies. Total dependence on domestic help because of lack of time because of her responsibilities at work-place and social life, does not workout for desired upbringing of the kids.

Modern Support systems

Support systems available to her are either old parents or baby-sitters/domestic help/crèches/day-care/child minder etc. In all the situations, there are many problems.

  • Old people, due their old age and failing energies, find it difficult to look after kids properly. They have health problems too.
  • Domestic helpers are expensive, unreliable, untrained and temporary.
  • Formal institutions running more on commercial basis like creches/day care centres are overcrowded and are unable to pay required attention to children.

The plight of a young career woman in America is described beautifully by Linda Burton (What’s a smart women like you doing at home? Published in Readers Digest August, 1988). She says that she never intended to stay back at home. “Before the birth of my first child, I had a full time job as a fund-raiser at a public interest law firm”. “After my child was born, I found myself ….getting angry about all the things, he was keeping me from doing. I missed my job and my friends, I felt poverty-stricken and I looked awful. So, like many other women, I decided to go back to work” thinking that she would give her child “Quality” time in the evenings and on week-ends. She tried nannies, housekeepers, home-based day-care centres, crèches etc. but was not satisfied and found them unreliable and unqualified for the job. Apart from it “I found that I had little “Quality” time for my child in the evening; I was tired. I also discovered that I missed my son during day”. “No matter how many licenses we issue, how many guidelines we establish or how much money we pay, it is impossible to have quality controls over the capacity of one human being to love and care for another. I wanted someone who was loving and tender, with a sense of humour and an alert, lovely manner – somebody who would encourage my children’s creativity”…. “Slowly, painfully, I came to a stunning realization; the person I was looking for was right under my nose. I had desperately been trying to hire me. And that is what a smart woman like me is doing at home”.

Difficulties in balancing her responsibilities at home and at workplace. It is quite difficult to balance the responsibilities at home and at workplace. Neither they can do full justice to their familial responsibilities, because they are not there, when their children need the tender care/advice of their mothers, nor they can to concentrate on their work without tension. Young children get deprived of tender and loving care. Nation and society is at loss from having confident and healthy citizens – mentally, physically and economically.

Parents usually get disconnected with children’s friends, habits and mannerism. Children in their turn also do not want any interference in their daily routine and wait for their parents to go.

Today to keep the children busy, working mothers send their little children to play-school, school and coaching classes for other activities/hobbies. Where is the quality time with a working mother? Everyday from morning till evening she gets very little time to spend with her kids. Also many a times,  even when mother and kids are together, mother’s mind is pre-occupied in resolving problems of her workplace.

Giving quality time to their children?

Some full-time working women think that they will give quality time to their children. The comforting concept of giving children their quality time is always there in working women’s minds. Many women develop guilt feeling. They know deep in their heart that giving prime time to children is not enough. This is an excuse to hide their guilt feeling. To lessen their sense of guilt consciousness, they excuse themselves thinking of giving children quality time.

Usually lack of time to think and act for sustainable development of child tends working women  to worry more about children’s physical needs and gloss over their psychological ones.  Many times, mothers buy materialistic goods for their children as a bribe to teach their children mannerism and thus clear their conscience of not being there for them.  Financial position/status is immaterial, when there is a question of affectionate care, protection of the child in developing the personality, intelligence and character or in imbibing the right moral and ethical values. Absence of a mother hampers the child’s personality. A maid’s care is not sufficient to fulfill the growing requirements of a child and cannot compensate for love of a mother. A trial court observed while adjudicating upon child custody case. (TOI, 11.11.11, p. 8)When due to any reason, a mother is unable to give enough time for the proper care of her children, she develops a complex/deficiency or feels insecure. Many women develop a sense of guilt. So, saying quality of time they spend with the kids only lessens their sense of guilt.

Child-care is a full-time job

 Responsibility of disciplining, inculcating good values and mannerism? – Today it is a big question – who owns the responsibility of disciplining, inculcating good values and mannerism in growing up boys and girls – parents, educational institutions or the government? Both the parents are busy in earning money these days. They do not have enough time for it. One of the side-effects of such an attitude is that institution of ‘family’ is weakening. Parents depend on schools for disciplining the child. And both parents and schools depend on Government/Police. Government/police says it is the duty of schools and parents and schools say it is for the parents to inculcate good values in children.  During adverse circumstances, they blame each other and circumstances.

Lack of dependable support system for child-care is one of the reasons that women now prefers to opt out of a regular career, till her baby needs her. A transition is taking place to a stay-home mothers instead of a working one.  According to the latest American census, stay at home motherhood is an increasingly popular choice for women, primarily to care for their children. (Times of India, New Delhi, January 9, 2005, p. 13)

Even in India, as NSSO data shows, female labour force participation (FLEB), was above 40% in early to mid-1990’s, fell to 29.4% in 2004-05,  23% in 2009-10 and 22.5% in 2011-12. ( Quoted from TOI, P.2, 27.9.2014)

Child-care is a full time job. To a great extent, a mother along with the help of her spouse is responsible for all round development of her child. In performing this task, it is her tender love, which plays decisive role. Her role in the development of her child distinguishes her from other institutions.

A woman’s role as a mother is crucial. Nobody else can replace it. Nobody else could cultivate positive qualities in children, which once imbibed, inevitably become part of one’s nature. These in turn, provide guidelines for their future wholesome behavior patterns as responsible citizens and social human beings.

No substitute for mother’s tender care

There can be no substitute for mother’s tender care, be it grand-parents, maids or formal institutions. Society needs its children to be nurtured and looked after well. As traditional family support systems disintegrate, the need for new kinds of support system for proper care of children is an urgent imperative.

In Japan, the community’s perception of a woman’s success depends in large part on how well her children do in school. So accepted is this role, that it has spawned its own label – “Koyukuk Mama (Education mother)”. No one doubts that behind almost every high scoring Japanese student stands a mother completely involved in her child’s education and proper development of his/her personality. She spends hours together in helping kids everyday with homework, hires tutors and may even work part-time to pay for “Juku”. She shuttles youngsters from physical education class to music class to calligraphy and piano.

Access to good education, a mother can empower herself and her children. Education makes women  financially independent having broad mind with principles and ample freedom. Indian society and the nation must duly acknowledge the contribution of women as mother. Japanese society lays a good proportion of the credit for its economic miracle at the feet of Japan’s women (Smithsonian – March 1987 by Carol Simons). Japanese Women gives importance to motherhood and consider education of her child as number one responsibility. She knows it is a demanding job, but consider it prestigious. Intense competition in post-war Japan has made her job harder than ever. Much of a mother’s sense of personal accomplishment is tied to the educational achievements of her children. States “Japanese Education Today” – a 1987 Report from the US Department of education.

Suggestions

In order to ingrain right values in children, a lot of time and patience is required during their growing years. Actually parenting is a 24-hour job. A parent has to be there every-time the kid needs him/her. The concept of spending ‘quality’ or ‘quantity’ time with children does not work well.

Empower family – Happy, harmonious and peaceful environment in family is very important to save humanity. Warm and sensible parenting without bias/gender-discrimination can curb violence to a great extent.

It is easy to deal with the toddlers/small children while growing up. Teen-ager boys and girls, when they develop their independent thinking, need to be guided diplomatically, otherwise they may turn defiant, aggressive or even violent. Every mother should raise her children in a way that gender equity and compassion as core values are inculcated in them in their growing years. They should be guided to overcome injustices and fight against domestic violence, discriminatory social customs and practices.

Enlightened and educated women, should focus their attention  on efforts/actions, they can do themselves without depending on any outside agency or on abstract issues like criticizing patriarchal-system, male-dominated society, reservation for women, discrimination/violence against women, equality etc. The onus falls on women to create a better future and better world to live in for their children.

October 4, 2015 Posted by | Women's issues | | Leave a comment

Is Feminist Movement Getting Derailed?

 “Our generation is becoming so busy trying to prove that women can do what men can do, that women are losing their uniqueness. Women were not created to do everything a man can do. Women are created to do everything, a man can not do.”

Ketan Shah from facebook

“I think, women are foolish to pretend, they are equal to men, they are far superior and always have been.”     William Golding.

Introduction – Saying all the time that women are superior to men, gives an impression that somewhere something is getting wrong or derailed. In fact roles of men and women within a family and society are complimentary and not competitive.  No doubt, women have proved themselves better than men in judgement; their trustworthiness, reliability, fairness working and playing well with others relative freedom from distracting sexual impulses and lower levels of prejudice, bigotry and violence make them biologically superior. But by nature, a woman gets attracted towards a man in life and look forward for his support in life as a father, brother, husband and son.

Women superior to men – Dr. Konner, a professor in anthropology at Emory University, says in his book, “Women After All” that “Women are, in every way that matters, superior to men and moreover, that this superiority is finally becoming evident in our societies.” In making this argument, he ranges from evolutionary biology, through ethology, neurobiology, embryology, anthropology and history, with digressions into economics and politics.” …. “They live longer, have lower mortality at all ages, are more resistant to most categories of disease and are less likely to suffer from brain disorders that lead to disruptive and even destructive behavior. And of course most fundamentally they are capable of producing new life from their own bodies, a stressful, and costly burden in biological terms, to which men literally add only the tiniest biological contribution – and one that in the not-too-distant future could probably be done without.”  (The wall street journal, March 28-29, 2015) If so, then where is the problem?

Already broken glass ceilings – Modern woman has already broken all glass-ceilings, moved forward and joined ‘man’ in nation-building activities. She works shoulder-to-shoulder with man. She has proved her worth and is second to none in  any sphere of work, be it industry, politics, social works and social reforms, managers, civil services, armed forces etc. which are far away from her traditional role of a home-maker. Despite all that, has she been able to resist her attraction towards the opposite sex? Why does she want to live with him lifelong and marries him?

Women’s issues of earlier times – Earlier in twentieth century, main issues of women were of physical strain, constant psychological pressures to conform to socially induced images of femininity – to be a good wife, perfect mother, efficient home-maker. Their concerns revolved around issues like dowry, domestic violence, rape, equal opportunities and equal pay etc. Now many liberated females focus their attention on teaching males a lesson, prove their worth/superiority in those areas as well, which were earlier regarded as man’s domain and be ahead of them everywhere.

Keeping balance in femininity and ambitions – Modern way of thinking, technological advancements, info-tech revolution has changed the role of women. Along with it changed her perspective, ambitions and equations with others. Economic independence has made them stronger, more confident and more vocal. Now they are aware and well-informed about their needs, problems and solutions.

For a modern woman, both family and career are equally important in life. At every stage of life, she has to face many challenges.  To face them courageously, she has to maintain a balance between femininity and her ambitions. Balancing career with familial responsibilities is a tough job, but a very crucial one in woman’s life. She needs to set priorities rationally after analyzing what is more important ‘right now’. She has to make many compromises. Most of women compromise on the home front.

Immediately after independence, in 1950′s, free young India embodied a liberal and inclusive vision of India. People understood and interpreted liberally the problems of caste, gender, community, rural-urban areas, meaning of social-economic-legal justice and attempted to resolve the issues rationally.

1950′s and 60′s was the time, when society was in general conservative, attitude hardly rebellion against social norms, talks being all about sacrifice. 1970′s and 80′s was the period of transition, when though people were still family and society-oriented, rebellion attitude started. Those were the years of social and political turmoil. Women gradually achieved success in various fields. Gender bias started vanishing.

Women acquired more education, economic and social power on their own without craving for any concession unlike other so-called weaker sections of society like SCs, STs or OBCs. A new wave swept across the woman’s world – many young women joined the workforce becoming students, teachers, administrators or activists in different social movements. With it, gender relationships and norms have undergone a sea-change because of changed socio-economic atmosphere and a change in expectations. It has ironically increased conflicts.

In 1990′s, rebellion attitude became dominant. Family and society were considered major obstacles on the way to progress. In matter of employment, it is not so difficult for women to get jobs as it was earlier. Women were placed more or less on equal footing with men.

 Movement of ‘Women-lib’ – As movement of women’s lib along with the ideas like “I will do what I want”, “I do not care for anybody” is gaining momentum.

The workload on men is increasing – in taking care of infants and toddlers, cooking, cleaning and doing other household chores. A drastic transition is taking place in the roles of both males and females within family. Man now shoulders more household responsibilities than his counterpart. Also his say in family matters is diminishing. Usually voice of the lady of the house prevails, men finds himself helpless.

“Who wears the pants in the family”? – Now a days, women plays a major role within the family, assumed almost all the rights to take all major decisions and to dictate her own terms. She does whatever she wants to do and enjoys life in her own way. There is no denial to the fact that full freedom should be given to women to make her own decisions and to lead her life the way she wants. But it should be done in a  decent and civilized manner by exercising some amount of self-control and self-discipline, so that her actions does not adversely affect the feelings or living of other family-members.

Mindset of Modern women – For many modern young women nothing, but ‘self’ matters in life. They are interested more in power, or money or in furthering their career-prospects. For the sake of money, power or position, they are willing to make every possible compromise.

Modern women desire to set themselves free from all the bonds of kinship. Some of them prefer to go far away from their native place to enjoy more freedom or settle down in unknown places/in foreign lands, not easily accessible. There they do not have any social pressure, they can lead their life freely and get total control over activities of their spouses and children. They can enforce their own dictates/rules on every family member within their nucleus families .

Tense relation ship with in-laws – It is said that without communication, there is no relationship. Without respect there is no love. Without trust there is no relationship. Quite often due to lack of communication, love and trust, for modern educated women relationship with in-laws become tense or weak. It is easier for a modern woman to break her relationship with in-laws, especially from her husbands old parents by cuttings off direct communication with them.

“Men from Mars, women from Venus?” – Thinking, working style, personal qualifications and abilities and sense of responsibility differ from person to person. It does not necessarily depend on one’s ‘gender’. It is unfair to generalize attributes of men-women on gender ground. Still it is difficult to ignore gender gap, that nature has created in their physique, mindset, style of working and attitudes.

It is difficult for a woman, how-so-ever hard she tries to bring to an end those inherent dissimilarities bestowed by nature itself. Mostly men are by nature more rational/sensible, more focused, faster in taking decisions or actions, less reactive and considerate. They have more physical strength, energy and authority. It is difficult for a woman ignore the charm of his physical strength and his ability to provide her and her family security – as a husband, father or son. As far as women are concerned, they are more loving, more caring and more social and maintain harmonious relationship with people around them. They have understanding and capacity to think practically. They are more attractive. However, sometimes the confidence gap in females tend them to look up to their male counter-parts to boost up their morale.

Roles of men and women in family are complementary, not competitive – Healthy relationship between husband and wife makes the world more colourful, comfortable and give each other purpose of life. It gives them incentive to work hard, move forward and make everybody happy within their family.  But when they work on impulses and emotions, life becomes difficult for the whole family, as it is practically impossible for an impulsive mind to think rationally.

 Conclusion

“Michelle Obama”, a classic example of the positive role

Michelle, (America’s first African-American First Lady) has been the more professionally successful of the two Obamas, studying in Harvard Law School, working as a lawyer, as an associate dean at the University of Chicago and eventually as a highly paid executive at the university hospital. As her husband’s career took off, she became a steading force behind her husband. Instead of becoming an intensely political first lady, she championed mostly non-political causes. When she makes the case of healthier school lunches, she sounds like a parent, not a politician. Mrs. Obama seems to have made a point of keeping family routine intact despite the pressures of life in the White House. She has instructed hetaff to avoid events after 5 p.m. so that she could have dinner with her daughters, just as she did with her own parents on South Euclid Avenue. (Quoted from The Wall Street Journal, 8.4.2015, P. A 11)

Conclusion – Within a family, no one should try to impose one’s superiority on the other. Both the couple should accept life as it comes, disciple their mind-sets to meet together the challenges in life. Both are the main pillars of the family life, are supposed to supplement each-others weaknesses and become a stronger unit to give required support to other dependent members of the family. Harmonious relationship between man and woman makes life interesting, enjoyable and worthwhile for themselves as well as for everybody else in the family and society.

Seeing the strengths and weaknesses of both the sexes, it can be said that roles of men and women within a family and society are complimentary and not competitive. A women should not try to ape, act or behave like a man. There is much more grace in femininity.

 

 

 

August 12, 2015 Posted by | Women's issues | | 1 Comment

India’s other daughters

 

Message from Justice Ashok Kumar Srivastava
Former Judge of Allahabad and Delhi High Court

This is a heart-warming and inspiring story that MUST be shared and replicated as much as possible across India and the world.

Share this and help to make our world greener and more equal!

                                                                   India’s other daughters
by

Major General Ashok Coomar
The village that plants 111 trees when a girl is born!
In a country that still favours the birth of a son, Piplantri village in Rajasthan not only embraces daughters but has created a tradition that benefits both the local people and the planet. This endearing village makes a conscious effort to save girl children and the green cover at the same time, by planting 111 trees every time a girl is born. A brilliant exercise in eco-feminism, this should inspire India and the rest of the world.
This wonderful eco-conscious tradition ensures that an increase in human population will never come at a cost to the environment. It is literally helping to ensure a greener future with each new generation.

The village gathers as a community and plants 111 fruit trees in honour of every newborn female child.

Village residents collect Rs. 21,000 between themselves and Rs.10,000 from the girl’s parents. This sum of Rs. 31,000 is made into a 20-year fixed deposit for the girl.
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Parents are legally bound by a signed affidavit stating that their daughter will receive proper education. The affadavit also mandates that the girl should be married only after she reaches legal age and the trees planted after her birth have been correctly looked after.
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The community ensures that the trees survive, attaining fruition as the girl grows up.

ImageProxy3  The villagers don’t just plant trees, they look after them as well. To protect the trees from termites, the residents plant aloe vera plants around them.
These trees, and especially the aloe vera plants, are now a source of livelihood for several residents.

This unique tradition was first suggested by the village’s former leader, Shyam Sundar Paliwal, in honour of his daughter who passed away at a young age. In the last 6 years, over a quarter of a million trees have been planted.

ImageProxy4 Villagers claim there has not been any police case here for the last 7 to 8 years.

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April 29, 2015 Posted by | Women's issues | , , , | 1 Comment

Reversed gender bias

“Woman has various dimensions to her personality – that of a daughter, sister, wife, a mother, a grand-mother – each one adds to the happiness in life.”

‘When I was born, A Woman was there to hold me…… My Mother; As I grew up as a child, a woman was there to care & play with me…..My Sister; I went to school, a woman was there to help me learn….. My teacher; I needed compatibility, company and love, a woman was there….. My wife; I became tough, a woman will be there to melt me… My daughter; When I will die, a woman will be there to absorb me…. Motherland. If you are a man, value every woman…If you are a woman. Feel proud to be one. (Quoted from Facebook)

Introduction –  On the basis of day-today observations it can be said empowerment of women without enlightenment, their disoriented psyche and ruthless competition with men have created a situation, where in a modern society gender bias gets reversed. There are diverse views on the issue – whether it is good for the society or not. Munshi Premchand, a famous Hindi novelist commented that when a man acquires the qualities of woman, he becomes a ‘Devta’ (just like God). On the contrary if a woman apes man, she can very easily destroy the peace of a family.

Overlooks her familial responsibilities – Some people say that in her hurry to win the race and further her career, a modern woman prefers to think, act or behave like men and be away from home as long as possible. She feels more comfortable outside her home, and. She craves for the freedom, liberty and carefree life-style -till now men were enjoying – so much that many a times, she overlooks her social/familial responsibilities.  And to compensate her absence at home, her male counterpart is taking up the responsibilities of household chores, in addition to earning and financially supporting the families.

Role reversal – There has been a role reversal within the family. Mama has become a tiger and Papa a lamb. Yester year’s hero ‘He Man’, the protector and provider as head of a family, today, willingly performs the role of ‘diaper-changing’ Dad. And yesterday’s loving and caring ‘lady of the house’ scares all family members. She can make or mar the peace of the whole family within no time – it depends on her mood.

Why women lagged behind men? – Many times the confidence gap in females prevents them from facing the challenges, for which men do not hesitate. That is one of the reason that they lag behind males in job-market.

Developing strong and smooth relationship – Man as a husband and woman as a wife are the two strong pillars of family. Developing smooth relationship between them depends, when –

  • There is constructive communication between the two,
  • They have mutual respect for and patience to listen each-other’s views attentively, emphatically and actively without any bias or preconceived notions,
  • There is mutual support and encouragement to fulfil their dreams,
  • The role is based on aptitude of each one with independent  decision-making
  • Understanding for each other’s likes and dislikes is there.
  • They agree or disagree after having constructive dialogue.
  • Relationship between them is reciprocal based on the feeling of ‘give and take’.
  • Relationship based on thinking about hypothetical situations creates complications.

Women superior to men – Dr. Konner, a professor in anthropology at Emory University, says in his book, “Women After All” that “Women are, in every way that matters, superior to men and moreover, that this superiority is finally becoming evident in our societies.” In making this argument, he ranges from evolutionary biology, through ethology, neurobiology, embryology, anthropology and history, with digressions into economics and politics.” …. “They live longer, have lower mortality at all ages, are more resistant to most categories of disease and are less likely to suffer from brain disorders that lead to disruptive and even destructive behavior. And of course most fundamentally they are capable of producing new life from their own bodies, a stressful, and costly burden in biological terms, to which men literally add only the tiniest biological contribution – and one that in the not-too-distant future could probably be done without.” In addition, women’s superiority in judgement, their trustworthiness, reliability, fairness working and playing well with others relative freedom from distracting sexual impulses and lower levels of prejudice, bigotry and violence make them biologically superior. (The wall street journal, March 28-29, 2015)

If so, then where is the problem? – Actually the problem lies in the silence of women. They keep on tolerating all kinds of atrocities without uttering a word mainly to save the ‘family honour’. As Dr. Konner tells, nature has itself empowered the women. Through introspection, they have to realize it. No outsider can make them empowered.

Already broken glass ceilings – Modern woman has already broken all glass-ceilings, moved forward and joined ‘man’ in nation-building activities. She works shoulder-to-shoulder with man. She has proved her worth and is second to none in  any sphere of work, be it industry, politics, social works and social reforms, managers, civil services, armed forces etc. which are far away from her traditional role of a home-maker.

Women’s issues of earlier times – Earlier in twentieth century, main issues of women were of physical strain, constant psychological pressures to conform to socially induced images of femininity – to be a good wife, perfect mother, efficient home-maker. Their concerns revolved around issues like dowry, domestic violence, rape, equal opportunities and equal pay etc.

Immediately after independence, in 1950′s, free young India embodied a liberal and inclusive vision of India. People understood and interpreted liberally the problems of caste, gender, community, rural-urban areas, meaning of social-economic-legal justice and attempted to resolve the issues rationally.

1950′s and 60′s was the time, when society was in general conservative, attitude hardly rebellion against social norms, talks being all about sacrifice. 1970′s and 80′s was the period of transition, when though people were still family and society-oriented, rebellion attitude started. Those were the years of social and political turmoil. Women gradually achieved success in various fields. Gender bias started vanishing.

 Now, women have acquired more education, economic and social power on their own without craving for any concession unlike other so-called weaker sections of society like SCs, STs or OBCs. A new wave swept across the woman’s world – many young women joined the workforce becoming students, teachers, administrators or activists in different social movements. Modernity, technological advancements, info-tech revolution have changed the role of women, her equations with others, her perspective and ambitions. Economic independence has made them stronger, confident and more vociferous.

However, along with it , since 1990′s, rebellion attitude started in gender relationships and norms have undergone a sea-change because of changed socio-economic atmosphere and a change in expectations. It has ironically increased conflicts. Now is the time to maintain balance between femininity and ambitions of women for better future. came dominant. Family and society were considered major obstacles on the way to progress. In matter of employment, it is not so difficult for women to ` get jobs as it was earlier. Women were placed more or less on equal footing with men. Now many liberated females focus their attention on teaching males a lesson, prove their worth/superiority in those areas as well, which were earlier regarded as man’s domain and be ahead of them everywhere.

Movement of  ‘Women-lib’ – As movement of women’s lib along with the ideas like “I will do what I want”, “I do not care for anybody” is gaining momentum, the workload on men is increasing – in rearing up infants and toddlers and doing other household chores. A drastic transition is taking place in the roles of both males and females within family. Man now shoulders more domestic responsibilities than his counterpart. Also his say in family matters is diminishing. Usually voice of the lady of the house prevails, men finds himself helpless.

“Who wears the pants in the family”? – Now a days, women plays a major role within the family, assumed almost all the rights to take all major decisions and to dictate her own terms. She does whatever she wants to do and enjoys life in her own way. There is no denial to the fact that full freedom should be given to women to make her own decisions and to lead her life the way she wants. But it should be done in a  decent and civilized manner by exercising some amount of self-control and self-discipline, so that her actions does not adversely affect the feelings or living of other family-members, especially her in-laws.

Too much attention on ‘Self’ – For a liberated modern young women nothing, but ‘self’ matters in life. She pays more attention to grab as much attention, power and money as she can within the family, further their career. In many cases, she desires to set herself free from all familial bondages. Some women prefer to settle down in foreign lands, far away from their native places to enjoy more freedom. They do not like to have any kind of social pressure and desires to lead their life, the way they want, get total control over activities of their spouses and enforce on everybody else in the family their own dictates/rules.

Sheen of the institution, called ‘family’, gone – Such an attitude has taken away sheen from the centuries old social institution known as ‘family’. Till now, ‘family’ has been giving refuge toddlers under the loving care of mother and emotional support to all – young as well as old members of the family. The toddlers are now sent to nursery, pre-school, children to schools and hobby-classes. Older generation has to take shelter in old-age homes. It has developed insecurity in minds of children, adolescents and old people.

Keeping balance in femininity and ambitions – Modern way of thinking, technological advancements, info-tech revolution has changed the role of women. Along with it changed her perspective, ambitions and equations with others. Economic independence has made them stronger, more confident and more vocal. Now they are aware and well-informed about their needs, problems and solutions. But even for a modern woman, both family and career are equally important in life. At every stage of life, she has to face many challenges.  To face them courageously, she has to maintain a balance between femininity and her ambitions. Balancing career with familial responsibilities is a tough job, a very crucial one in modern woman’s life.

She needs to set priorities rationally after analyzing what is more important ‘right now’. She has to make many compromises. Most of women have made compromise on the home front.

“Men from Mars, women from Venus?” – Thinking, working style, personal qualifications and abilities and sense of responsibility differ from person to person. Seeing the attitude and aptitude of various individuals, the theory of division of labour gains importance. Assignment of responsibility does not necessarily depend on one’s ‘gender’. It is unfair to generalize attributes of men-women on gender ground. Still it is difficult to ignore gender gap, that nature has created in their physique, mindset, style of working and attitudes.

It is difficult for a woman, how-so-ever hard she tries to bring to an end those inherent dissimilarities bestowed by nature itself. Mostly men are by nature more rational/sensible, more focused, faster in taking decisions or actions, less reactive and considerate. They have more physical strength, energy and authority. It is difficult for a woman ignore the charm of his physical strength and his ability to provide her and her family security – as a husband, father or son. As far as women are concerned, they are more loving, more caring and more social and maintain harmonious relationship with people around them. They have understanding and capacity to think practically. They are more attractive. However, sometimes the confidence gap in females tend them to look up to their male counter-parts to boost up their morale.

Roles of men and women in family are complementary, not competitive – Healthy relationship between husband and wife makes the world more colourful, comfortable and give each other purpose of life. It gives them incentive to work hard, move forward and make everybody happy within the family.  But when they work on impulses and emotions, life becomes difficult for the whole family, as it is practically impossible for an impulsive mind to think rationally.

 Conclusion

“Michelle Obama”, a classic example of the positive role

Michelle, (America’s first African-American First Lady) has been the more professionally successful of the two Obamas, studying in Harvard Law School, working as a lawyer, as an associate dean at the University of Chicago and eventually as a highly paid executive at the university hospital. As her husband’s career took off, she became a steading force behind her husband. Instead of becoming an intensely political first lady, she championed mostly non-political causes. When she makes the case of healthier school lunches, she sounds like a parent, not a politician. Obama seems to have made a point of keeping family routine intact despite the pressures if life in the White House. She has instructed her staff to avoid events after 5 p.m. so that she could have dinner with her daughters, just as she did with her own parents on South Euclid Avenue. (Quoted from The Wall Street Journal, 8.4.2015, P. A 11)

Within a family, neither husband nor wife should try to impose one’s superiority over other. Both should accept life as it comes, discipline their mind-sets to meet together the challenges in life. Both husband and wife, the main pillars of the family life, are supposed to supplement each others weaknesses and become a stronger unit to give required support to other dependent members of the family. Harmonious relationship between man and woman makes life interesting, enjoyable and worthwhile for themselves as well as for everybody else in the family and society.

Seeing the strengths and weaknesses of both the sexes, it can be said that roles of men and women within a family and society are complimentary and not competitive. A women should not try to ape, act or behave like a man. There is much more grace in femininity.  

April 6, 2015 Posted by | General, Women's issues | , , | 1 Comment

“All India Women’s Conference” – A premier NGO

“Women will work out their destinies – much better too than men can ever do for them. All this mischief to women has come because men undertook to shape the destiny of women” Swami Vivekanand

All India Women’s Conference is a premier NGO working tirelessly to uplift the status of women in society as well as to empower them through education and training and enlighten them through various awareness programs on different issues.

Newsletter 1914

All India Women’s Conference has started its journey towards women’s empowerment in 1927, when a handful of like-minded visionary members joined hands to give selfless voluntary service to the society and work for all-round development of needy women and children. Since then, AIWC has never looked back and moved forward step by step, slowly but steadily. It has survived the test of time and today it is one of the premier women’s voluntary organizations.

The uniqueness of AIWC lies in the fact that in an increasingly “money for work” conscious world of the day, its more than 2 lakh women members are voluntarily working at headquarters, Delhi and in about 520 branches and constituent branches at grass root level under 9 zones spread across the country, with a membership of about. All the members devote their valuable time and talents for the service of those helpless women in need, who are bearing silently all kinds of sufferings without uttering a word against discrimination or exploitation prevalent in the society.

Newsletter 1914 1In January, 2014, the new managing committee took charge, Mrs. Veena Kohli as President; Mrs. Asha Gambhir as Secretary general ; and Mrs. Amreshwari Moria as treasurer. As has been its tradition, along with its entire team, the new executive members have started working with full zest, as is evident from the style of its working.

In 1995, Beijing Platform of Action guided Global society to work on 12 core issues – (like poverty, unequal access to education and training, health-care, violence against women, persistent discrimination against the rights of girl-child etc.) –  for the sustainable development of women. However, AIWC has already been involved since 1928 to tackle all those challenges, which obstructs empowerment of women. The year 2014 has been full of activities for AIWC in various fields.

During Half Yearly meeting at Moradabad in June 28-29, 2014, due to increase in the number of branches and increased workload/activities, the Standing Committee has given the charge to monitor the activities of its respective branches to the offices of Zonal Organizers (nine in number throughout India). These offices will act as the focal points, working as a link between headquarters at Delhi and its branches spread all over India. Each of the Zonal organizers and their teams will be responsible for coordinating and monitoring the work done at branches working within their respective ‘Zones’.

On 21st    and 22nd Feb., there was a National Conference at Vigyan Bhavan, N.Delhi. The focus was on saving the rich Indian heritage of herbal medicines and make people aware of their role in making India healthier in future.

newsletter 1914 2Every year, March 8 is celebrated as ‘International day for women’, when UNO salutes womanhood. AIWC feels felt why only one day? Every day, society should pay tribute to womanhood and acknowledge their contributions to the society as affectionate daughters, sisters, loving life-partners/wife and caring mothers. On 18th March, AIWC in co-ordination with Art Inc. organized a wonderful event and named it ‘Ode to Womanhood’. The event put emphasis on both the dimensions – Empowerment of women through legal awareness as well as make them socially and culturally rich.

 Aiwc in climate change workshopA series of Advocacy Workshop was conducted during May-August 2014 by AIWC on Post-2015 progress and Impacts of Climate change. The workshops were sponsored by Women in Europe for a Common Future, a Netherland based NGO. Mrs. Kalyani Raj, Member-in-Charge, New & Sustainable Project was selected as one of the Mentors under WECF’s EWA Project. The national workshop was conducted in Delhi and four regional level workshops were conducted in Kolkota, Trivandrum, Mumbai and Allahabad.

mcm library 2MCM library 1

Margaret Cousins Memorial Library (MCM library) of AIWC was established in  1956 as a general Public Library in the memory of one of founder members and ex-President, Margaret Cousins, an Irish lady. The library is a treasure of old Reports and correspondence, old journals, and reports pertaining to women’s issues. After its renovation, digitalization and restoration and preservation of valuable documents and digitalization, the library has started re-functioning again since August 2014. It The library has now been made more user-friendly through automation. Being located at a central place in N. Delhi, the library is a centre of attraction for students, research scholars as well as general public.

AIWC,s Gettogether

AIWC invited other premier NGO’s working in and around Delhi for the all-round development of under-privileged women. It was an effort to share their experiences and make concerted efforts to make women’s empowerment movement stronger and  find out jointly solutions of their problems, so that all women can live in the society with dignity and honor.

climate mitigation INFORCE 

On May 20th 2014, AIWC the national Focal Point of INFORSE South Asia organized a workshop on Climate Mitigation Initiatives for advocacy and awareness on Low Carbon Technologies at the Head Office, N. Delhi. It was attended by experts from MNRE, Ministry of Finance and Environment, WAFD, WEC, CSE, CANSA, IIT etc.

Mrs yachury's workshop

AIWC organized a National Workshop on ‘growing and preserving of Medicinal plants’ at Bengaluru from 14th to 16 of July 2014. 25 branches from Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry attended it with interest, as it would provide a livelihood and economic independence to rural women. Global Water Partnership and India Water Partnership sponsored   one year pilot project on Awareness Generation on ‘relationship between safe-drinking water, health, hygiene, water-conservation and sanitation. Mrs. Kalapkam Yechury conducted it at Kakinada branch at Komargiri Village. The project was sponsored by Global Water Partnership and India Water Partnership.

Seminar on violence against women

Head office of AIWC sponsored for 4 seminars on the theme ‘Violence against women’. Ms Kuljit Kaur, Vice President, responsible for it, organized seminars on ‘J.S.Verma Committee Report and Aftermath’. She  invited opinions and suggestions of women from all-over India – East, West, North and South as well as from upper, middle and lower class families. Zero tolerance was the motto of this National Consultation. Justice Leela Seth, also a member of J.S.Verma Committee, was the Guest of Honour at N. Delhi.

National Foundation for Communal Harmony (an autonomous body under the Ministry  of Home Affairs) sponsored for conducting workshops on national harmony. AIWC conducted workshops on “Role of Women in Promoting Communal Harmony and National Integration” at its branches in Punjab, U.P., Tripura and Gujarat. The aim was to promote peace and harmony, and spread the message of love and humanity in the country. It spread the message – ‘No religion supports violence’.

Essay competition

On 12th November, 2014, All India Women’s Conference held an Inter-College Debating Competition. The theme of the debate was: ‘Traditional values and ideals are no longer relevant for women’s empowerment’. The debate opened fresh avenues of thought for women’s empowerment coming from the young participants. Both boys and girls from about 35 premier colleges from different parts of Delhi participated in the debate. The debate concluded on the positive note that the role of traditional values in supporting empowerment could not be brushed aside coolly. Values are values, which give a purpose to human life. AIWC Inter-College Debate trophy was awarded to Daulat Ram College, University of Delhi. On this occasion, President of AIWC also invited students to join AIWC’S Youth Wing as volunteers and put their energies to the task of women empowerment ahead.

shilpkala utsavshilpkala utsav 1

From 26th Nov to 28 November , 2014 Ms Ritu Singhal, Member-in-Charge, Shilpkala Utsav organized the annual festivity of crafts. It is a unique initiative taken up by AIWC to encourage women artisans, to revive their skills and give them an exposure for marketing their products. This year, artisans from 17 states participated. Exquisite handcrafted collections of textiles, Crafts, Jewelry and accessories in variety of materials were showcased.

Chief guests were Dr. Jessica Hellett, EU Ambassador’s wife, Ms. Jaya Bachchan, M.P. Rajya Sabha, Mr. Samir Kumar Biswas, Development Commissioner Handicrafts, and Mr. Navraj Goyal, Addl. Development Commissioner (Handicrafts).

Participation in International Conferences

Recently, the members of AIWC have participated in some international conferences. Ms. Amarshwari Moria, treasurer AIWC went to Kathmandu Nepal, (from 26th Aug to 28th Aug.) to attend a ‘Low Carbon Options for South Asian Countries and sectors.

Pre-COP

A ‘Pre-COP Social meet on Climate Change’, a summit of Civil  Society Organization was held in Margarita Island (Venezuela) in July 2014, primarily to provide a forum for the international CSOs to meet and discuss their perspective of issues relating to the Climate Change. Kalyani Raj participated in the meet. The CSOs discussion was consolidated in a document “Margarita Declaration” and presented by the Venezuela government to the COP authorities.

UNFCCC has given AIWC the status of ‘Observer’. In June, in the capacity as Co-focal point (Global South) of the Women and Gender Constituency of UNFCCC, Ms Usha Nair she attended the Forum at Taipei, Taiwan in July 2014.

One day summit was organized by U. N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on September 23rd, 2014 at New York.  Kalyani Raj and Usha Nair from AIWC attended it.

Amreshwary and Kalyani

There was APAN Conference in Kuala Lumpur  this year. Treasurer Mrs. Amareswari Moria and Ms Kalyani Raj attended the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network. The Forum focused on various aspects of adaptation to the climate change.

Lima-Peru 1

In December, 2014, COP20 was held at Lima, Peru. From AIWC, Mrs. Usha Nair, Mrs Kalyani Raj, Mrs. Geeta Sinha and Mrs. Kumkum Narain participated in at Lima. Issues relating to technology transfer, mitigation, adaption, finance, transparency in action and support in a balanced manner etc. were discussed in this conference.

The year 2014 has been full of activities for AIWC. Its contributions to Indian society as a whole for women’s empowerment are immense and priceless. The efforts done so far for solving women related issues require much more to be done. The organization has miles and miles to go to make its dreams come true. So rest not, till it is done. Wishing all of you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

 

 

 

 

March 24, 2015 Posted by | Women's issues | , | Leave a comment

Malnutrition in India

 

                                                                                Malnutrition in India       

by

Mr. Ashok Narayan (Retired IAS officer)

Indian economy is full of contradictions and paradoxes. If we look at the economy in terms of per capita income, performance of the corporate sector, business opportunities, etc., one gets a rosy picture. For instance, India has a moderate GDP per capita of $3827 (World Bank, 2006) with an impressive growth rate of 9.2%. Population growth has declined to 1.6% (2007). Life expectancy at birth has increased to 62.9 (2007). Net enrolment ratio in primary education is 94.2 % (UNSD, 2006). Indian markets have zooming (until the recent phase of recession caught up with them) and have been attracting foreign investors in a big way. India economy has managed to remain fairly independent of the vagaries of world markets. India is a young country with an average age of 24 and 60% of its population (more than 600 million in absolute numbers) is below 35 years of age. According to R Seshasayee (“Advantage India” Vikalpa, April-June 2007) it is expected that in about 10 years, the world will face a severe shortage of skilled manpower to the extent of 120 million. India is the only country which can fill in the gap; provided, of course, that steps are taken to create the skills in demand. The world is moving towards a knowledge economy and India seems to have a big advantage in this respect, if the potential is tapped. The entrepreneurial spirit in India is higher than in several countries including China. India has 107 million entrepreneurs as compared to 96 million in China. 18% of Indians in age group of 18-64 are entrepreneurs (according to Seshasayee). In short, Indian economy is all set to grow in a big way. Many think that India is poised to become a superpower.

 However, there is another side of the picture which is not so encouraging. 34% of India’s population lives below PPP $1 per day. Even according to the standards of poverty adopted by the government of India the population living below the poverty line (BPL) has been stagnating at 25% for the last several years. In many states this percentage has been rising. The absolute number of people in India living below the poverty line is around 300 million.

 Agricultural sector has not been doing so well either. The food productivity is low as compared to global figures. The demand for food has been growing on account of rising incomes, while the food production has been rather stagnant. The result is that having achieved self-sufficiency in food, India has now been importing wheat again. India is already a big importer of edible oils and pulses. This fuels the already rising food prices in accordance with the global trend.

 When we talk of some non-economic indicators, we are in for even bigger disappointments. The Human Development Index (HDI) ranking for India is 126 in 177 countries (UNDP, 2006), the HDI value being 0.6 (UNDP, 2004).

The object of this paper is to briefly discuss two major issues: declining per capita calorie consumption and malnutrition.

 Calorie Consumption

 In this regard, following facts have been highlighted by Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar:

  • Calorie consumption per head declined in 2004-05 (NSSO 61st round) to 2047 calories in rural areas as against the norm of 2400 calories and 2020 in urban areas against the norm of 2100
  • Per capita calorie consumption fell steadily between 1972-73 and 2004-05 (as revealed by successive NSSO surveys) although poverty ratio halved during the same period from 56% to 28%
  • On the other hand, NSSO surveys tell us that “hunger ratio” (meaning the ratio of people saying they do not get enough to eat) has been steadily declining from 15% in 1983 to 5.5% in rural and 1.9% in urban areas in 1993-94; and 2.6% in rural and 0.6% in urban areas in 2004-05.
  • People in all income groups (even the bottom 30%) are shifting from basic foods (like cereals and dal) to superior foods such as fats, tea, sugar, eggs, meat, vegetables and fruits. The per capita consumption of superior foods is rising even as that of cereals (and calories) is dipping. And at every income level people are consuming more non-food items. This phenomenon typically shows rising prosperity.
  • The latest survey shows that the three states with the lowest rural calorie intake are Tamil Nadu (1,842), Karnataka (1,845) and Gujarat (1,923), while Bihar (2,049) and UP (2,200) report higher calorie consumption. In fact, the data show that UP had consumption as high as 2,575 back in 1972-73. The lowest urban consumption among states is in Maharashtra (1,847 calories).

The trend of declining calorie consumption has been a puzzle, which can be called the “calorie puzzle”. It is an undeniable fact that as the incomes increase, the pattern of food consumption shifts from cereals to non cereals like meat, dairy products, fish, fruits, vegetables and processed foods; but whether this should give rise to a decrease in calorie consumption can be debatable. Some argue that the norms of per capita calorie consumption (2400 in rural and 2100 in urban areas) are no longer applicable in the context of changing life patterns. With physical activity declining in both rural and urban areas, the norms of calorie consumption need to be scaled down. This view is corroborated by the following observed facts:

 

  1. As per capita income has gone up in various income groups in India, per capita income has steadily come down
  2. There appears to be a trend for per capita calorie consumption to be lower in relatively more prosperous states of India. There appears to be hardly any reason why someone who has the money to buy food should remain hungry and calorie-deficient.
  3. The “hunger ratio” as explained above has been steadily coming down, which is consistent with the general rise of per capita incomes and decline in poverty ratio. Therefore, the decline in per capita calorie consumption need not imply impoverishment.Those who hold the contrary view argue that a decline in per capita calorie consumption should worry us, because there has to be a minimum amount of calorie intake in order to keep one reasonably healthy. They claim that the per capita income is too crude a parameter to tell the real story about the financial status of the various strata of the society. The data collected about the “hunger ratio” may not be reliable, being too subjective.There may be something in both points of view. No one can seriously deny that the poverty has declined over the years in India. At the same time the amount of physical activity in rural and urban areas might also have declined on account of mechanization of various processes (replacement of bullocks by tractors in agricultural fields, for example). Food preferences have also undergone a change, as has been mentioned above. All this might result in a changed requirement of the body. The norm of 2400 calories in rural areas and 2100 in urban areas may not hold now; though it might have been an appropriate benchmark at one time.However, one thing seems to be beyond doubt: there has to be a proper yardstick of appropriate calorie consumption for a person depending on his physical activity and lifestyle. The norms of 2400 or 2100 may have to be revised suitably and then we have to see whether the Indian populations are getting enough calories according to their requirements. The issue of calorie consumption cannot be totally neglected. If people do not get enough calories, they will remain hungry and malnourished.Malnutrition            Coming to nutritional levels, a recent study by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has ranked India 66th among 88 countries (the higher the ranking, the worse are the nutritional levels). India’s score on Global Hunger Index (GHI) is 23.7 (better than 32.5 in 1990) as compared to the global score of 15.2. It may be mentioned that a value greater than 10 indicates a serious problem; a value greater than 20 is alarming while a value exceeding 30 is extremely alarming. Other highlights of the report are:
  4. Despite years of robust economic growth, India scored worse than nearly 25 sub-Saharan African countries and all of South Asia, except Bangladesh.
  5. Even states with high rates of economic growth in recent years such as Gujarat, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra have shown high levels of hunger.
  6. Almost half of all young children are underweight, many of them in the more serious categories of wasting and stunting.
  7. Rural households consume less food grains now than what they did in 1950’s (we have already discussed this point in some detail).
  8. The ISHI found that not a single Indian state falls in the ‘low hunger’ or ‘moderate hunger’ categories. While twelve states fall in the ‘alarming’ categories, Madhya Pradesh shows extreme levels of hunger. Punjab, Kerala, Haryana and Assam fall in the serious category.  Punjab, the best performing state and also known as India’s bread basket ranks below Gabon, Honduras and Vietnam on the GHI.
  • The GHI scores of some other countries are:
    • Bangladesh 25.2 points (70th place),
    • Pakistan 21.7 points (61st)
    • Nepal 20.6 points (57th)
    • Sri Lanka 15 points (39th)
    • China 7.1 points (15th).

To sum up, following facts attract particular attention:

  • India has about the worst indicators of child malnutrition in South Asia.
  • 48% of children under the age of five in India are stunted, compared to 43% in Bangladesh and 37% in Pakistan.
  • Meanwhile 30% of babies in India are born underweight, compared to 22% in Bangladesh and 19% in Pakistan.
  • UNICEF calculates that 40% of all underweight babies in the world are Indian.
  • Fifty million Indian children under the age of five are affected by malnutrition.
  • Rising food prices, UNICEF says mean 1.5 to 1.8 million more children in India could end up malnourished.

This is a very serious matter and a riddle also. How is it that malnutrition, especially among children persists in spite of declining poverty levels? How is it that levels of poverty are much higher in Africa but the prevalence of malnutrition is much more in south Asia? How does one explain that indicators of child malnutrition paint a grim picture of India as compared to many countries which are much poorer? In fact, India is almost at the bottom of the list in South Asia (only Bangladesh is below India). The percentage of children under the age of five who are underweight (48%) is inconsistent with the poverty ratio (25%). Even within India, UP and Gujarat both show the same levels of malnutrition (47% children born underweight) although UP is a much poorer state as compared to Gujarat. “Punjab, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, and Tamil Nadu report the lowest proportions of underweight children (27 to 33 per cent); whereas Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Madhya Pradesh report the highest levels of underweight children (52 to 60 per cent).”(June 22, 2007: The Hindu by, A.K. Shiva Kumar). Thus, the problem of malnutrition seems unrelated to poverty.

Unlike the issue of calorie consumption discussed above, one cannot quarrel with the international growth standards to assess malnutrition. A.K. Shiva Kumar note in the above-mentioned article:

“…extensive studies by the Nutrition Foundation of India have established that the growth patterns of Indian children who are well-fed and well-looked-after are similar to those of adequately nourished children in other parts of the world, no matter where they are born — in New Delhi, New York or New Zealand.”

Moreover, malnutrition is not a matter of opinion. It can be measured in purely objective way: in terms of stunting, wasting and underweight. It results in lowered capacity to do physical and mental work. There is no doubt that our people, especially children are undernourished, which affects their health and efficiency. It is a pity not only because our people do not enjoy the health they are entitled to, but also because our young country is a wasting a vast man-power potential.

The real causes of malnutrition lie elsewhere. One of the most important factors is the poor health and nutritional status of women, who give birth to underweight babies. The next factor is the care of the child after birth. This is a function of a larger issue. Child care is bound to be neglected if the mother is not well-educated or if she is not adequately empowered vis-à-vis her husband and other male members in the family. It is well known that the assets controlled in the house by female members have a larger bearing on the child-care as compared to the assets controlled by males. The status of women in the family is an important factor

A.K. Shiva Kumar notes that “According to NFHS-3, close to one-third of Indian women suffer from Chronic Energy Deficiency and have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 18.5 kg/m2.”

Talking about the limited reach of public health services and messages, the above author notes that “In 2005-06, for instance, only 44 per cent of children aged 12 to 23 months were fully immunized. And only 26 per cent of children with diarrhoea were given oral rehydration salts. Barely two-thirds (64 per cent) of children suffering from acute respiratory infection or fever were taken to a health facility. Also affecting the health and nutritional well-being of children is the limited reach of, and access to, maternal care services. Here again, NFHS-3 reveals some glaring shortfalls. In 2005-06, barely half (51 per cent) of mothers across the country received at least three antenatal care visits during pregnancy; and less than half (48 per cent) of births are attended to by a trained birth attendant, which includes a doctor, nurse, woman health worker, auxiliary nurse midwife, and other health personnel.”

“…Breast milk provides vital nutrients throughout the first year of life; but it alone is not sufficient. Beyond four to six months, infants must be given solid foods to supplement breast milk. Despite the importance of breastfeeding and appropriate feeding for preventing malnutrition, only 23 per cent of children under the age of three were breastfed within one hour of birth and less than half the babies (46 per cent) up to five months old were exclusively breastfed. And only 56 per cent of children aged six to nine months received solid or semi-solid food and breast milk. It is, therefore, not surprising that a child typically becomes malnourished between six and 18 months of age, and remains so thereafter. In most cases, nutritional rehabilitation is difficult.

Talking about limited opportunities available to women, the author notes that “Access to education, for instance, makes a big difference. According to NFHS-3, malnutrition among Indian children below the age of three born to illiterate mothers (55 per cent) is more than twice the levels (26 per cent) reported among mothers who have completed more than 10 years of schooling.”

“It is also well known that most infants get malnourished between six and 18 months of age. This raises three important issues relating to care of the child. First, six-month-old babies cannot eat by themselves; they need to be fed small amounts of food frequently. Feeding a six-month-old infant, however, is time-consuming. Many rural women simply do not have the luxury of time to feed infants. The task is often entrusted to an older sibling who understandably may not have the required patience to feed an infant. Related to this is the need to care for pregnant women by ensuring proper nutritional diet and by reducing the burden of work on mothers. Child rearing in most families is made the primary responsibility of mothers. It is important for fathers too to recognize their role in child care and share the burden with mothers. And third, it is important for state interventions to focus on care of newborns and those under the age of three.”

The above view is endorsed by the fact that the states which are poor in terms of nutritional levels are also poor in respect of health care facilities. To quote again:

“For instance, 60 to 81 per cent of children aged six to 35 months were fully immunized in the low malnutrition States, whereas the proportion is much lower — 33 to 49 per cent — in the high malnutrition States. Reach of maternal care services is also poorer in the high malnutrition States. In the low malnutrition States, 63 to 97 per cent of mothers receive at least three antenatal care visits; this proportion varies between 17 and 55 per cent in the high malnutrition States. Again, 53 to 100 per cent of births were assisted by a trained birth attendant in the low malnutrition States whereas in the high malnutrition States the proportion varied between 17 and 55 per cent. And finally, the nutritional status of women is better in States where children had lower levels of malnutrition. For instance, whereas 14 to 24 per cent of women in the low malnutrition States have a BMI below normal, the proportion varies from 40 to 43 per cent in the high malnutrition States.”

Similar conclusions have been reached by IFPRI (Annexure I). The article has quoted a study undertaken by Professor Ramalingaswami in this context. IFPRI highlights that 83% women in India suffer from iron deficiency anemia. . The figure is 40% in Sub-Saharan Africa. This should explain why levels of malnutrition are higher in India as compared to Sub-Saharan Africa in spite of the latter being much poorer in terms of income levels.

The poor state of child malnutrition is even more tragic, because studies have established that the development of brain is almost complete at the age of two years. If a child is malnourished at the age of two, the deficiency cannot be made up later by taking corrective measures. Thus it is crucial to take care if the nutrition right from the prenatal stage up to the age of two years. 30% of the children in India are born underweight. This handicap is hard to overcome.

It may be mentioned that the Intensive Child Development Programme (ICDS) has been a very good step in the right direction and has been extremely useful to improve the state of nutrition among children. Even so, in practice it has taken care of children older than two years, although the programme is meant for the children of 0 to 6. It would be a good idea to concentrate on the pregnant mothers and children below the age of two years. Of late, there has been an increasing awareness that children below 3 years of age have to be given special attention, the health of girls has to be taken care of since adolescence and women need to be educated and empowered generally in order to make a dent on the problem. However, the impact of these interventions is yet to be visible.

To summarize, it is not enough to be satisfied with India’s progress on purely economic front judged by the growth of GDP and per capita income. Bringing down the poverty ratios in consonance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is a big challenge (the MDG goals required halving of poverty ratios between 1990 and 2015).

Two trends in particular should worry us: declining consumption of calories per capita and alarming levels of malnutrition. While declining calorie consumption may be (partly or fully) explained by change in life patterns and physical activity, there can be little doubt that there must be norms of minimum calorie consumption for rural and urban areas consistent with the prevailing life patterns and level of physical/mental activity, so that one can judge whether there is insufficient calorie intake in Indian populations leading to malnourishment.

Action Points

Action is required on the following fronts:

  • First of all, we have to ensure that the people below poverty line (BPL) get the calories they need. A new exercise must be undertaken to ascertain the calorie requirement in rural and urban areas separately considering generally the level of physical and mental activity of BPL persons. The old criteria of 2400 and 2000 calories in rural and urban areas respectively may have to be revised.
  • Once the calorie requirements are determined, the government must ensure, by means of programmes such as “Food for Work”, that enough food grains are made available to all their BPL card holders through fair price shops.
  • Getting enough calories is a necessary but not sufficient condition for adequate nutrition. Therefore, for BPL as well as APL (above poverty line) persons a balanced diet is necessary containing adequate quantities of carbohydrates, proteins, pulses, vitamins, minerals, fats and fiber. In this context, Information, Education and Communication (IEC) are as important as material inputs. Special attention will have to be paid to the following target groups:
    • Adolescent girls are often neglected by their parents in male dominated families. There is a common misconception that girls do not need as much nutrition as boys do, because the boys have to exert more physically and mentally. (This, of course, is wrong. In rural areas, most of the physical work at home and in field is done by females.) According the seeds of malnutrition are sown in adolescent girls.
    • Pregnant mothers need enough nutrition for themselves as well as for the child they are bearing. A large number of children are born underweight and malnourished. Therefore the nutritional needs of pregnant mothers should be taken care of through special programmes.
    • Lactating mothers also need special attention. Apart from their nutritional needs, their education also is very important. Wrong feeding habits contribute substantially to child malnutrition. For instance, in a study (Annexure II) conducted in Jaipur city, it was revealed that 85% mothers discarded colostrum and 96.6% mothers gave prelacteal feeds to their infants. Colostrum is highly nutritious and must be given to the newly born babies. Prelacteals should never be given as they may be a source of contamination and may adversely affect the intake of breast feeding. Breast feeding should be the only source of nutrition for six months without any other supplements or prelacteals. The recommendations for a proper feeding are:
      • Early initiation of breast feeding including colostrum
      • Avoidance of prelacteals
      • Initiation of complementary feeding at the age of six months
      • Feeding of cereal-based semi-solids/solids following age-specific frequency and in recommended quantities
      • Adherence to food-hygiene to avoid infections etc.
    • Children up to the age of two should be specially taken care of, because if the nutritional deficiency is not corrected by this age, it becomes, more or less a permanent feature of life.
    • Empowerment and education of women about child care. Education alone will not help unless they are empowered enough take decisions in the families.

Preventive steps

A number of preventive steps can be taken (Annexure III) to avoid permanent damage to children including mental retardation.

  • Improving the nutritional status of the community as a hole, especially girl children, focusing on adequate intake of calories and iron.
  • Iodization of salt to prevent disorders related to iodine-deficiency.
  • Administration of folic acid tablets to prevent neural tube defects.
  • Immunization of children with BCG, polio, DPT, and MMR to prevent brain damage. Rubella immunization (which is apart of MMR) can totally eradicate maternal rubella syndrome..
  • Avoiding pregnancy before 21 years and after 35 years of age. Children born when the mother is older than 35 years of age are prone to Downs syndrome and other chromosomal diseases.
  • Avoiding marriage between close relatives.
  • Spacing pregnancies in order to help mother recoup health and nutritional status in between pregnancies.
  • Avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals like alcohol, nicotine, cocaine during pregnancy.
  • Screening pregnant women for infections such as syphilis and promptly treating them, if any.
  • Preventing Rh iso-immunization in cases where the mother is Rh negative.
  • Prompt treatment of severe diarrhoea and brain infections in children to minimize brain damage.
  • Preventing exposure to environmental pollutants including leaded petrol. (Chronic exposure to lead can impair development of brain.)

Whether or not there is anything wrong with per capita calorie consumption, there are definitely alarming levels of malnutrition in Indian populations, which lead to physical and mental retardation on a permanent basis. Levels of malnutrition in India are higher that those in Ethiopia, which is much poorer in terms of per capita income as well as poverty ratios. This problem has deeper roots than just poverty levels. Special emphasis is needed on improving health care services, women have to be empowered and educated about child care and, of course, pregnant mothers and infants have to be ensured additional nutrition before it is too late.

 

February 25, 2015 Posted by | Women's issues | , , | 4 Comments

Motherhood for a Woman

When there is a loving and caring mother at home, there will be order in the family, then in society and in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.

Motherhood is the most wonderful experience in the life of a woman. Mothers are the pivot around whom the whole family revolves. They hold family together, make tough decisions, takes care of each member with love and makes everybody comfortable. Mother is everything for her children. She generates confidence in her children and gives them strength when they go through all the ups and downs, successes and failures later in life.

Divine pleasure in watching their child grow

A mother feels a divine pleasures constantly, when she watches her child growing, the time which is full of wonders, of innocent questions asked by a toddler and gives many insights into the little and pure world of her child. Many a times she finds it difficult to answer the innocent questions of her child. Her comments/answers inspire and guides the children. Sometimes the insights of children astound mothers. It gives mother a sense of fulfillment. More time she spends together is better for the child.

Sacrifices her today

Every mother, on her own,  happily sacrifices her today, all her comforts, her day and night, her youth and everything in her power to take care of the new life, she brings into this world and make a healthier, happier and more prosperous future for her children. Every enlightened mother gives to the family, society and nation confident and responsible person/citizens. It is because of it that it is said in Indian scriptures that one can never repay two persons – mother and father.

After marriage a woman has to fulfill many familial responsibilities including taking care of small children. She does everything, she can for her children. She brings a new life in this world, brings it up, nourishes the baby, make the child comfortable and prepare her children to face the realities of life, when they grow up.

Changing scenario

Twentieth century –Twentieth century has brought many changes in women’s world. Women were keen to be economically independent, having their own identity. Legally they got freedom, equality, and access to education and employment. They became more and more confident and started questioning the stereo type assumptions that went with them.

The older typical image, slowly and slowly, got diffused and diversified. Gradual and greater awareness led them to take action to improve their living conditions and secure more and more justice and welfare through government’s intervention in economic, political and social life.

Today women have broken all glass ceilings, entered into domains which were earlier completely under male domination and worked with them. They became more career -oriented.

Twenty first century women –  In the twenty-first century, the thinking is changing slowly in America. According to the latest American census, stay at home motherhood is an increasingly popular choice for women, primarily to care for their children. (Times of India, New Delhi, January 9, 2005, p. 13)

Even in India, as NSSO data shows, female labour force participation (FLEB), was above 40% in early to mid-1990’s, fell to 29.4% in 2004-05,  23% in 2009-10 and 22.5% in 2011-12. ( Quoted from TOI, P.2, 27.9.2014)

With more and more women opting out from a regular career, a transition is taking place to a stay at home mothers instead of a working one. The image of modern mother has changed. This group comprises of those women, who considers themselves as friendly mothers, having a sense of self-realization in  breeding their kids properly and inculcating in them the good values. They are in pursuit of excellence in mothering and are putting more energy in being perfect mothers.

Over-burdened young Mothers?

Strains of modern living, stressful and working long hours in offices and then late marriage put so much strain on woman body that that factors like stress, weight change, age medicines disrupt the balance of her hormones and makes it difficult to give birth to a normal child.

In modern two income-group nuclear families, a mother of a small kid is over-burdened. In joint families responsibility of taking care of babies and kids was shared with other members of the family therefore not so difficult, but without the support systems of joint families, taking proper care of babies has become very difficult.

The major responsibility of taking care of home, having  growing up children usually falls on the shoulders of wife/mother alone, which in itself is a full-time job. Young mothers faces many difficulties/challenges. They are overburdened. A mother needs some new support systems to help her out in fulfilling her familial responsibilities. Quite often she has to leave her growing up children and household chores under supervision of others – domestic help or old parents. Full-time working mothers are becoming so dependent on domestic help because of getting virtually no time from the responsibilities of work-place, for the proper upbringing of the kids. When something goes wrong, they blame others.

A young mother has to fulfill many familial responsibilities including taking care of small children. Concerns of a young mother, having the responsibilities of raising up her babies or toddlers, can range from sheer logistic problems associated with providing proper child-care to emotional challenges because of not being physically there, when her children need her. As a new age companion, her husband is expected to participate actively in rearing up the children and help women in household chores. It is a fact that though the help of grandparents as well as the support of crutch, day-care, maids, driver, child minder or hobby class teacher etc. is always available to young working couples, but does it always works as desired?

Need of Modern Support systems

Support systems available to her are either old parents or baby-sitters/domestic help/crèches/day-care/child minder etc. In all the situations, she faces problems.

  • Old people, due their old age and failing energies, find it difficult to look after kids properly. They have health problems too.
  • Domestic helpers are expensive, unreliable, untrained and temporary.
  • Formal institutions running more on commercial basis like creches/day care centres are overcrowded and are unable to pay required attention to children.

The plight of a young career woman in America is described beautifully by Linda Burton (What’s a smart women like you doing at home? Published in Readers Digest August, 1988). She says that she never intended to stay back at home. “Before the birth of my first child, I had a full time job as a fund-raiser at a public interest law firm”. “After my child was born, I found myself ….getting angry about all the things, he was keeping me from doing. I missed my job and my friends, I felt poverty-stricken and I looked awful. So, like many other women, I decided to go back to work” thinking that she would give her child “Quality” time in the evenings and on week-ends. She tried nannies, housekeepers, home-based day-care centres, crèches etc. but was not satisfied and found them unreliable and unqualified for the job. Apart from it “I found that I had little “Quality” time for my child in the evening; I was tired. I also discovered that I missed my son during day”. “No matter how many licenses we issue, how many guidelines we establish or how much money we pay, it is impossible to have quality controls over the capacity of one human being to love and care for another. I wanted someone who was loving and tender, with a sense of humour and an alert, lovely manner – somebody who would encourage my children’s creativity”…. “Slowly, painfully, I came to a stunning realization; the person I was looking for was right under my nose. I had desperately been trying to hire me. And that is what a smart woman like me is doing at home”.

Difficulties in balancing her responsibilities at home and at workplace. It is quite difficult to balance the responsibilities at home and at workplace. Neither they can do full justice to their familial responsibilities, because they are not there, when their children need the tender care/advice of their mothers, nor they can to concentrate on their work without tension. Young children get deprived of tender and loving care. Nation and society is at loss from having confident and healthy citizens – mentally, physically and economically.

Parents usually get disconnected with children’s friends, habits and mannerism. Children in their turn also do not want any interference in their daily routine and wait for their parents to go.

Today to keep the children busy, working mothers send their little children to play-school, school and coaching classes for other activities/hobbies. Where is the quality time with a working mother? Everyday from morning till evening she gets very little time to spend with her kids. Also many a times,  even when mother and kids are together, mother’s mind is pre-occupied in resolving problems of her workplace.

Giving quality time to their children?

Some full-time working think that they give quality time to their children. The comforting concept of giving children their quality time is always there in working women’s minds. Many women develop guilt feeling. They know in their heart that giving prime time to children is not enough. This is an excuse to hide their guilt feeling. To lessen their sense of guilt consciousness, they excuse themselves thinking of giving children quality time.

Usually lack of time to think and act tends working women to worry more about children’s physical needs and gloss over their psychological ones.  Many times, mothers buy materialistic goods for their children as a bribe to teach their children mannerism and thus clear their conscience of not being there for them.  Financial position/status is immaterial, when there is a question of affectionate care, protection of the child in developing the personality, intelligence and character or in imbibing the right moral and ethical values. Absence of a mother hampers the child’s personality. A maid’s care is not sufficient to fulfill the growing requirements of a child and cannot compensate for love of a mother. A trial court observed while adjudicating upon child custody case. (TOI, 11.11.11, p. 8)When due to any reason, a mother is unable to give enough time for the proper care of her children, she develops a complex/deficiency or feels insecure. Many women develop a sense of guilt. So, saying quality of time they spend with the kids only lessens their sense of guilt.

Child-care is a full-time job

Child-care is a full time job. To a great extent, a mother along with the help of her spouse is responsible for all round development of her child. In performing this task, it is her tender love, which plays decisive role. Her role in the development of her child distinguishes her from other institutions.

A woman’s role as a mother is crucial. Nobody else can replace it. Nobody else could cultivate positive qualities in children, which once imbibed, inevitably become part of one’s nature. These in turn, provide guidelines for their future wholesome behavior patterns as responsible citizens and social human beings.

 

No substitute for mother’s tender care

There can be no substitute for mother’s tender care, be it grand-parents, maids or formal institutions. Society needs its children to be nurtured and looked after well. As traditional family support systems disintegrate, the need for new kinds of support system for proper care of children is an urgent imperative.

In Japan, the community’s perception of a woman’s success depends in large part on how well her children do in school. So accepted is this role, that it has spawned its own label – “Koyukuk Mama (Education mother)”. No one doubts that behind almost every high scoring Japanese student stands a mother completely involved in her child’s education and proper development of his/her personality. She spends hours together in helping kids everyday with homework, hires tutors and may even work part-time to pay for “Juku”. She shuttles youngsters from physical education class to music class to calligraphy and piano.

Access to good education, a mother can empower herself and her children. Education makes women  financially independent having broad mind with principles and ample freedom. Indian society and the nation must duly acknowledge the contribution of women as mother. Japanese society lays a good proportion of the credit for its economic miracle at the feet of Japan’s women (Smithsonian – March 1987 by Carol Simons). Japanese Women gives importance to motherhood and consider education of her child as number one responsibility. She knows it is a demanding job, but consider it prestigious. Intense competition in post-war Japan has made her job harder than ever. Much of a mother’s sense of personal accomplishment is tied to the educational achievements of her children. States “Japanese Education Today” – a 1987 Report from the US Department of education.

Suggestions

In order to ingrain right values in children, a lot of time and patience is required during their growing years. Actually parenting is a 24-hour job. A parent has to be there every-time the kid needs him/her. The concept of spending ‘quality’ or ‘quantity’ time with children does not work well.

September 27, 2014 Posted by | Women's issues | | 2 Comments

How to combat violence against women

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“Respect for women and their rights flow from the ancient traditions of Indian civilization and are now enshrined into the Constitution and laws of modern India.” Dina Nath Batra, A famous historian of Ancient India.
“Violence against women remains one of the invisible and under-recognized pandemics of our time.’ (Nicole Kidman)

“The idea that a woman loses her dignity if she is sexually assaulted is instilled in our mindset. The shame should be on the perpetrators instead of the survivor.” Amitabh Bachchan


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April 19, 2014 Posted by | Women's issues | | Leave a comment