I just read this article by Rukmini S published in The Hindu. Thought it is worth sharing. Gender inequity prevails almost across all countries and one of its major violent manifestation is rape or violating the modesty of a woman. Though media reports these cases on a daily basis but except it nothing has really changed on the ground level.
Not so long ago, the idea that women might rule the world seemed slightly ridiculous – like something out of science fiction. But in an essay to mark International Women’s Day, political analyst and former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers argues it’s now a topic that can be seriously discussed.
Women clearly lacked the intellectual capacity and emotional fortitude to make the difficult decisions that leadership required. It wasn’t bias, it was biology – it was just the way women were made.
But that was then. In recent decades, attitudes and ideas have changed – and fast. That’s not to say that every corner of the world has welcomed women moving from the traditional and private into the modern and public. But move they have.
So what’s changed? A lot. As a huge and growing body of research and experience makes clear, empowering women makes things better. Not perfect. But better.
Business is more profitable. Governments are more representative. Families are stronger, and communities are healthier. There is less violence – and more peace, stability and sustainability.
Why? Well, it starts with the simple fact that women often experience life differently. And that experience affects the way we see problems – and think about solutions.
“Diversity is absolutely an asset,” says Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
“With diversity you bring different ways of looking at the world, different ways of analysing issues, different ways of offering solutions. The sheer fact of diversity actually increases the horizon and enriches the thinking process, which is critical.”
Both women and men often say that women communicate differently, that they listen, encourage dialogue, and build consensus.
Studies also show that women also lead differently than men. They’re more likely to be collaborative, inclusive and team-oriented, all characteristics that tend to be effective, particularly in today’s less-hierarchical, fast-paced, innovation-driven world.
“I think it’s fair to say that women are a little more collaborative in their approach overall, and a little less driven to conflict as opposed to driven to working out problems,” says Janet Napolitano, the US Secretary of Homeland Security.
Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, says that women also bring an inter-generational perspective to their work. “We need to take decisions now that will make for a safer world for our grandchildren and their grandchildren, and I think women are more likely to do that when they come into positions of leadership.”
Acknowledging that men and women bring different qualities and different skills to public life is critical. For too long, women were expected to think like men and act like men if they wanted to succeed.
But increasingly their differences are seen as a source of strength rather than a weakness to be overcome.
Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to serve as Speaker of the US House of Representatives, tells women to simply be themselves. “You are the only person who can make your unique contribution. Your authenticity is your strength, be you.”
That’s not to say there aren’t obstacles, there are. Women have long been judged by a double standard. Study after study shows that their accomplishments are just a little less valued – and they have less margin for error.
Sometimes it’s women who hold themselves back – they don’t own their own value, raise their hands for promotions or ask for more money.
Despite these ongoing challenges, the benefits of empowering women are undeniable. Women are the engine driving global economic growth.
Women are also essential to building and sustaining peace. Today, nearly half of peace agreements fail within five years in no small measure because half the stakeholders are excluded.
When women are at the table, they help bridge the gap between different groups and ensure that a broader range of issues, from food security to sexual violence, are addressed. As a result, peace is more likely to take root.
Former US Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice says she has learned first-hand that you need women to participate in the peace process.
“First and foremost women are often the guardians of the village, the family, and are therefore the ones who suffer most in conflict zones. They’re often the target of marauding forces, the target of those who would rape and maim and if you can engage them in the process, then they also can help the society to heal.”
So empowering women isn’t about political correctness, it’s about improving outcomes. It’s about investing in stronger economies and healthier communities – it’s about ending conflicts, and sustaining peace. It’s about improving the quality of life for people all over the world.
Empowering women isn’t just the right thing, it’s the necessary thing. And because women are increasingly ruling, the world is changing for the better.
Disclaimer – The whole article is taken from BBC News. Its just reproduced here for spreading the information. For more visit – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-21661744?ocid=pan_gn_smc_all_feature_whatif_general_na
Writes Yoginder sikand…
Some three dozen women from a number of countries sit together in a large hall, soldering components onto electronic circuit panels and fitting switches into boards, gossiping and laughing as they work. They have no common language and come from countries as diverse asVanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Nauru and Samoa in the Pacific; Peru and El Salvador in Latin America; and Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Benin in Africa. But, these women will live together for six months in a small village in Rajasthan, and if you see the way they interact among themselves; their Rajasthani instructors and the village folk who live in the vicinity in broken English, a smattering of Marwari and Hindi, sign language and much laughter — you might think they’ve long been the best of friends.
These women have come together under a unique programme conceived by the Barefoot College, a development organization based in Tilonia, a small village in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district. Considered to be a pioneer in promoting solar energy in various parts of rural India through village people instead of formally-educated, certificate-wielding ‘experts’, Barefoot College has for several years now been actively involved in promoting solar energy technology in various poverty-stricken countries. Having started in 2004, every year a batch of thirty odd women from different countries are selected to attend a six month course in basic solar energy technology in Tilonia. From 2008 onwards, the scheme has been partly funded under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. So far, 200 women from almost fifty countries have completed the course.
Partner NGOs in various countries select women who live in remote villages to undergo the course. Initially, the course was open to both men and women, but later it was restricted only to women so that it could serve as a means for women’s empowerment. It was also felt that if men did the course, they might return to their countries to make money, while women were more likely to stay in their villages and work for development of their communities.
Typically, participants in the course are middle-aged women, some of them grandmothers from impoverished families. Most work as homemakers, though some also run small home-based businesses. Many of them are completely illiterate. Bhagwat Nandan, in-charge of the programme said, ‘Several of them had never visited the capital cities of their countries before flying out toIndia. Of course, most of them had never flown in a plane before coming here.’
The first month or so in Tilonia is a great challenge for the women. The culture, people, language, food, climate is new for them. But, in a small time they have adjusted themselves. Bukaewe, mother of six from Nauru says, ‘The people at the Barefoot College are very friendly. We women from different countries live here like sisters, members of a large family. We do not speak each other’s languages, but that doesn’t come in the way of us joking and playing Bingo and volleyball and having fun in our free time!’ Her compatriot Jaylyn, grandmother of two adds, ‘It’s good to be here, though I miss home, too. Some months ago I became a grandmother again and named my granddaughter “Tilonia”! I have learnt much after coming here.’
The ten course instructors, four women and six men are village folks from Tilonia and nearby villages. Some of them are illiterate and none of them have studied beyond middle school. They have no degree in solar energy technology, having picked up their skills through years of practice. These ‘barefoot solar engineers’, as they are called, are experts in their field.
The instructors don’t speak any language that the women can understand. This makes teaching the women an even more daunting task. Leela Devi, who has studied till the third grade and has been a solar technology instructor for the last ten years said that to solve the problem, Barefoot College has devised an ingenious method of using various colour codes to denote key words in the various languages these women speak, as well as a teaching manual based mainly on illustrations.
During the course, the women assemble several dozen solar power circuits, chargers, fixed units and lamps, which are then shipped to their villages when they return home. These are distributed to families through local NGOs. Once they are back in their villages, the women supplement their family’s incomes by running home-based workshops to repair the lamps and fixed units that they have helped install. Each family who receive a solar light or lantern pay the village committee a small sum every month, and part of the collection goes to the women.
‘The course isn’t only about solar energy,’ Bhagwat Nandan explains. He remarks, ‘Coming all the way from their homes, thousands of miles away, and living in a completely different environment is an empowering experience for the women.’ They are exposed to new ways of life, often being for the first time on their own without their families. That in itself is a major confidence-booster. In their free time, the women can also participate in various other activities of Barefoot College such as the women’s groups, a village-based development communications team, rainwater harvesting activities, and efforts to improve the economic conditions of rural people using local resources, producing goods like handicrafts, bags and toys.
Phester, mother of four from theSolomon Islands said, ‘I’ve learnt so much here over the past few months. At the Barefoot College, I’ve seen how meaningful change can be brought about through local initiatives. There are many people at the Barefoot Collegewho are physically challenged. Yet, they work, and are paid for it. That wouldn’t happen in my country. That is one of the many good things I have learnt here.’
Bhagwan Nanda said that upon returning to the village, these women are often treated with additional respect because of the exposure and knowledge of the outside world. By providing fellow villagers with a valued service, they help inspire other women in their villages to develop confidence and stand on their own feet.
Not a good bargain !
That’s what a life is for !
East or West, violence against women continues. Stop child sexual abuse. Media should protect victim’s privacy by sensitive reporting.
For more than a week, spectators and members of the press have been packing the Brooklyn courtroom where a prominent chasidic man is on trial for sexually abusing a girl from the Satmar community who was sent to him for counseling. The case is noteworthy for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that the young woman pressed charges in the first place.
Indeed, ever since she reported the abuse, the alleged victim of Nechemya Weberman — an unlicensed “therapist” to whom, testimony has indicated, Satmar schools referred “wayward” girls for “help” — has been subjected to intense pressure to withdraw her claim, including intimidation, harassment, social ostracism of her family and even a reported $500,000 bribe. Last spring, members of the Satmar community held a lavish fundraiser for Weberman’s defense. Not long after, four men were arrested and charged with witness tampering in connection with the case…
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