Wednesday, March 22, 2023

International Women’s Day 2023

Being a woman itself is a superpower. Happy women’s Day to the superhero in my life!
Every year on 8th March, International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender equality. Women are not made equal by observing women’s day annually. It is a conscious and regular effort both men and women need to avoid falling into the sin of patriarchy. Patriarchy is a social system that manifests in many social, legal, political, religious, and economic forms. Regrettably, the norms of patriarchy have been normalized through social institutions. Unfortunately, patriarchy is a strong element in every religion. God is a male especially in Semitic religions. In the attribute of God as male, the image of God is monopolized and man becomes the model of all humanity. Manusmriti clearly backs up caste and gender hierarchy. In Christianity, the maleness attributed to God or Christ is a stumbling block for an inclusive paradigm of the church, for some. On the other side, the Bible makes it clear that right from the beginning, God sees men and women as equal. Both are made in His image (Imago Dei) Genesis 1:27), both are separated from Him by sin and need a saviour (Romans 3:23).
Women are the embodiments of love, life, and caring for the existence and survival of every person. They nourish and sustain human life through their giftedness as women. They play a unique role for every person. Women are spiritually rich, active, wise and program oriented. Technically there is no barrier between men and women. There is nothing unattained. Reports claim women officers tripled in the last six years in Indian Defence forces. In recent years women ranked highest in civil service examinations. Every ordinary person is powerful. Not only Indira Gandhi, Sunita Williams and Mother Teresa are magnanimous, charismatic, compassionate outstanding leaders. Even rural women with proper guidance and support become ambassadors of social change. We have several Tribals, Dalits and adivasi women who are leading different grassroots movements like the Right to Food, Right to Work, etc. Sister rani Maria created a social revolution through her advocacy for the rights of the poor and the vulnerable.
Empowering Women today for a sustainable Tomorrow: Women’s empowerment refers to the process of enabling women to have greater control over their lives and to be able to make their own decisions. This can include empowering women to participate fully in the economy and in the political process, as well as empowering them to make decisions about their own health and well-being. Women’s empowerment is important because it can lead to a range of positive outcomes, including increased economic growth and development, improved health and well-being, and greater gender equality. Gender refers to the roles, responsibilities, characteristics, and behaviours that a given society associates with our identities as women, girls, men, boys, or non-binary people. Gender is socially and culturally constructed, so our understandings of gender differ across contexts and over time. Gender influences what is expected of each of us, the power we have in society, how we relate to others, and the norms to which we are expected to conform. Gender is a distinct concept and not the same as sex classification, which is typically assigned at birth. We know that education is an essential tool to empower women to gain confidence and achieve economic stability and success. In today’s digital era that has been largely defined by technological advancements, access to technology is essential to anyone’s educational and economic success. Women face significant barriers when it comes to accessing education and employment.
Gender-based violence is a major problem. The National Crime Records Bureau reports that in 2021, there were over 4,28,278 reported cases of violence against women. This included incidents of physical and sexual assault, as well as dowry-related violence and female infanticide. The statistics are alarming, with 31,677 reported rapes against women in 2021 alone. Many women live in poverty, particularly in rural areas. Poverty can make it difficult for women to access education and employment, and can lead to other challenges such as poor health and malnutrition. Women in rural areas often face greater challenges when it comes to empowerment. For example, they may have less access to education and health care, and may be more isolated and vulnerable to gender-based violence. Women in often face discrimination in many areas of life, including in the home and in the workplace. This can make it difficult for them to access education and employment opportunities, and can lead to unequal treatment and lower pay.
Innovation and technology for gender equality: Our lives depend on strong technological integration: attending a course, calling loved ones, making a bank transaction, or booking a medical appointment. Everything currently goes through a digital process. However, 37% of women do not use the internet. 259 million fewer women have access to the Internet than men, even though they account for nearly half the world’s population. If women are unable to access the Internet and do not feel safe online, they are unable to develop the necessary digital skills to engage in digital spaces, which diminishes their opportunities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related fields By 2050, 75% of jobs will be related to STEM areas. Yet today, women hold just 22% of positions in artificial intelligence, to name just one.
Bringing women into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality. Their lack of inclusion, by contrast, comes with massive costs. The United Nations Observance of IWD, under the theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, recognizes and celebrates the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education. The observance will explore the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities, and it will also spotlight the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and addressing online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence.
Conclusion: Women’s empowerment can have a range of positive impacts on women’s lives, including improved economic opportunities, greater control over their own lives, increased political participation, and greater gender equality. By empowering women to participate fully in the economy, women can have access to better paying jobs, which can help to lift them and their families out of poverty. Empowering women can also give them more control over their own lives, allowing them to make decisions about their own health, well-being, and future, which can lead to increased self-esteem and confidence, as well as improved mental and physical health. When women are empowered to participate in the political process, they can have a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives and their communities, leading to more inclusive and representative decision-making and policies and programs that better address the needs of women and girls. Women’s empowerment can also help to reduce gender inequality and promote greater gender equality, leading to more balanced relationships between men and women and positive impacts on women’s health, well-being, and overall quality of life.
Rev. Fr. C. Joseph, Counsellor-St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous) Jakhama, Kohima Nagaland

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