Naina Rajkumari is a communication specialist, brand strategist, storyteller and columnist with over 23 years of experience. Prior to joining Solidaridad Network, in the International Development sector, she was heading the publications, PR and media relations in Osho World.
For over a hundred years, International Women's Day on 8 March celebrates the social, economic and political achievements of women, reflect on the progress, demand gender equality and puts the spotlight onto issues affecting women all over the world.
Even after a century of highlighting women’s issues and demanding equality, the need to celebrate this day is becoming ever pressing. It is 2023 and it's incomprehensible that we still have inequality between women and men. At the heart of the International Women's Day lies women's rights. As humans all deserve the same rights – human rights.
Across the world, women in government are underrepresented in most if not all countries worldwide. An UN Women report states, “as of September 2022, there are 28 countries where 30 women serve as Heads of State and/or Government. At the current rate, gender equality in the highest positions of power will not be reached for another 130 years”.
Patriarchal gender biases, marriage, pregnancy, child and elderly care leads to women dropping out of workforce or failing to achieve their full potential. Women do the lowest-paid jobs and earn less money for the same work. During the pandemic, everyone suffered job losses and was pushed out of secured social nets. Even though the pandemic affected everyone, more women lost jobs compared to men. According to a report by Mckinsey, the dual role of handling household and work pushed women out of the workforce at a faster rate. It’s given that the pandemic had an impact on everyone but women were impacted further.
The lack of voice is a critical factor of gender inequality and hinders women’s access to decision-making and agenda-setting processes, and beyond that, opportunities for leading these processes. A critical example is that women represent a substantial share of the total agricultural labour force, as individual food producers or as agricultural workers. Despite the women's increasing involvement in agricultural work and management, their role as farmers is underplayed or denied, and that various social determinants affect the ability and readiness of women themselves to assert an identity as farmers. Women play a critical and transformative role in the agricultural growth of developing nations.
All said but the reality is that we are missing out on the potentials of the half of our population.
Women have been repressed continuouslyfor millennia. While he has been given every opportunity and chance, the woman has been repressed and crippled. She has not been allowed to compete with man shoulder to shoulder in life. That’s why we don’t know how many Einsteinsand Fords have simply been denied any possibility for growth, Buddhas denied the possibility to blossom. One needs opportunity. By barring the women from education, training, and freedom, we have made the society and the whole world poor.
If the woman is allowed freedom to grow to her potential, there will be many women leaders, bankers, artists, entrepreneurs, mystics, poets and painters. They will not only enhance the woman’s part of the world; they will enhance the whole world.
As the contemporary mystic Osho says, “The freedom of women is going to be the freedom of men too. We can create a world together, with men and women sharing their insights, their visions, their dreams. Because they are different, their dreams are different; their contributions to the society will be different. And if a society can be created in which men and women have participated equally, that will be for the first time the richest society in the world”
Man and woman are neither equal nor unequal, they are simply unique. We have to create a world where there is no question of somebody being superior and the other inferior. Beyond equality, women will also have to keep their uniqueness. It would be insulting to have second hand men. Then only we will have an enriched world of man and woman existing as complementaries and not contradictories; the woman becoming strong and the man becoming more sensitive. The redefining of feminism, therefore, depends not only on women rediscovering themselves; men will also need to redefine their role and restructure their attitude vis a vis women.
“Gender inclusivity is neither discriminatory nor biased towards any particular sex. It believes in an equal world with equal opportunities for everyone while celebrating their uniqueness. A gender-inclusive workspace, for instance, does not expect a woman to behave like a man to be considered for a leadership role”, says Kritika Banerjee, Senior Editor, Solidaridad Asia, a CSO that works towards sustainable supply chain.
The woman can be of immense help in creating an organic society. She is different from man, but not unequal. She is as equal to a man as any other man. She has talents of her own which are absolutely needed.Man and woman both belong to one humanity, and they both have complementary qualities. They both need each other, and only when they are together, they are whole. Differences are not contradictions. They can help each other and immensely enhance the world.
Gender expert Neha, rightly concludes, “Equity, equality and empowerment is the key to gender inclusive society.......both men and women are equal and should have equality in all kind of opportunities”.