Why fulfillment of ‘New Woman’ in India is a myth?
Post-Independence, Indian constitution guaranteed a place of equality and dignity to women in the country. Several schemes and initiatives were undertaken to assure overall development of women and provide opportunities to lead a meaningful life. Government has launched schemes like BEti Bachao Beti Padhao, Sukanaya Samriddhi to promote gender equality in the society. There is an aspiration to create women of empowerment who can contribute to nation building as well as inspire other women.
Census 2011 data show otherwise, though adult sex ratio has improved but Child sex ratio continues to decline. This trend is reflection of deep mindset which still discriminates against girl child. Female feticide still continues in many pockets of the country which violates their basic right to life.
Horrifying incident of Nirbhaya continues to frighten women in public places. Though the presence of women in public places has increased dramatically these places are still not safe. Measures to protect women in such places have failed immensely.
India has one of the lowest rate of participation of women in workforce and it also has huge gap in the male and female income. Such disparity is result of unequal access to quality education to girls, unsafe public places. Even at workplaces the laws to protect the dignity of women are not implemented in letter and spirit. Feminization of poverty is one of the emerging phenomenon in this era of globalization.
Government has remained slow in reforming personal laws which provide property rights to women, guardianship of child in case of a single parent, divorce etc. Laws such as Maternity act reinforce the norm that child rearing is only women’s responsibility. Laws need to reflect the social changes.
Society is plagued by social evils like Child marriages, Dowry which remnants of old patriarchal order. Any attempts to eradicate them have met with strong resistance or these activities have gone underground.
Creation of new women is possible if each woman feels safe, empowered to make her own decisions. Achievement of this requires pushing for socially relevant laws and waging a war against social evils, empowering the women with skills and education and creating opportunities. In absence of all this new women may remain limited to few sections of society in metropolitan areas.