Voices for women’s rights get louder during poll season
GUWAHATI, April 15
[dropcap]E[/dropcap]very political party has all of a sudden started talking about women’s empowerment. Manifestos could be making copious promises on this count, but the real picture is quite dismaying across the country. The northeast is no different. The number of women in the fray is also a poor commentary on the government’s steps to improve their lot.
When TOI spoke to a cross-section of women, their collective voice stressed on the immediate need for education as it would lay the foundation for empowerment. The prevalence of male domination, they felt, also blocked their participation in active politics.
Zabeen Ahmed, a librarian at Cotton College, said women needed to be made aware of their rights. “I feel education is a must to make women understand their rights as citizens like any other member of society.Women are being deprived because of lack of education. The scene in rural areas is more pathetic. Steps should be taken to educate women, especially in rural areas, for a better society,” said Ahmed.
But Ahmed was optimistic that change would come sooner or later as women had already started taking the lead in several areas. “I feel good that at present around 70% teachers in our college are women. It’s very encouraging,” she added.
Stuti Goswami, a lecturer at Jagiroad College, echoed Ahmed’s views. “Education is essential but it has to be linked to employment. Financial security is very important for women to live with dignity,” said Goswami, adding that along with empowerment it was necessary to give her a safe environment. Popular Assamese actress Zerifa Wahid also harped on the safety factor. “Empowerment is not just giving her the right to vote or to give her an easy loan. Empowerment is also to ensure her security,” said Zerifa.
Dimapur-based writer Susan Waten said, “We have a long way to go before women are actually empowered. All these years women have been suppressed and change is happening only now.”
Sikha Hazarika, a young professional in the city, also felt a woman would be truly empowered the day she could walk on the streets feeling absolutely safe and secure. “This is no political statement. I feel change has to start right from the home. Besides, men first need to be educated to respect women,” said Hazarika.
At present, Assam has just two sitting MPs out of 14 seats.