Time to Build a More Equitable World
On the evening of March 1, 2020, the women of Nagaland’s capital city Kohima took to the streets, joining the rest of the country to campaign for women safety. The walk was organised by Nagaland State Commission for Women (NSCW) under the direction of the National Commission for Women (NCW). The campaign aimed at highlighting the importance of a safe environment for women in public spaces with emphasis on road safety, and to help facilitate a change in society’s mindset including the eradication of victimhood and victim blame. As India continues to await the verdict on the Nirbhaya case, wherein a 23-year-old paramedical student was brutally gang raped in a moving bus on the night of December 16-17, 2012, the women of India and the world marched to see true social and political change.
Violence against women is a major social problem and is a violation of women’s human rights. The World Health Organisation estimates that about one in three (35%) women worldwide have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. Sexual violence against women and girls is rooted in centuries of male domination. Patriarchal setups around the world have perpetuated gender inequalities that fuel rape. Lack of education opportunities, low literacy rates, lack of awareness and work opportunities have led to unequal political, social, economic and health status for womankind. Men are more likely to perpetuate violence if they have less education, are exposed to domestic violence against their mothers, abuse alcohol, and societal values of unequal gender norms and a sense of entitlement over women.
Empowerment and autonomy of women and girls, and the improvement of their status in society are crucial factors for reversing today’s environment and scenario. Women and girl empowerment are essential for true and sustainable development of societies. Education is perhaps the most important key to empowering women and girls with knowledge, skills and self confidence necessary to be a productive and empowered part of society. Education does not end with improving literacy rates; awareness programmes are crucial to educate men, women, children and whole societies of the rights of women. The integration of women folk with the workforce, political decision-making and elimination of inequalities between men and women require the participation of all people. Capacity building to equip women with autonomy of earnings and life determining decisions is another crucial aspect of empowerment. All over the world, women and girls are facing threats to their lives, health and well-being, however we can change the trends of the past and build a more equitable world. The time to act is now.