Women’s Equality begins at Home
CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
On Women’s Equality Day here is a quick check on where we stand concerning the much-sung song on the equal status of women in our society today. Women’s representation in politics, positions of leadership at work, contribution in various fields of advancement are often cited as examples in favour of their potential and talents. The fact that our people and society have to be reminded of women’s skills and potential itself indicates that something is not right. Why do we have to look beyond our homes to prove women’s worth? Why is it that we forget to celebrate our women at home every day for their sacrifice, hard work, talent and contribution?
"Charity begins at home” and we’d know women have won the war of oppression when they are acknowledged at their homes as equal partners and as decision-makers; when they no longer have to put themselves last in priority when it comes to nutrition and health; when they are no longer expected to stay behind when they wish to go out and work; when their unpaid service and role as caregivers is recognized as work.
Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Gender Equality will be a distant dream unless the idea of women’s equality is localised. Every family and every community needs to recognise and identify women as individuals first. At an advocacy level, the idea of equality should not be limited to a right-based approach but as a basic necessity for every individual to live with dignity. Every family and community must make sure that the birth of their daughters is celebrated, their girls go to school and are not forced into early marriage, women are not forced to motherhood unless they and their bodies are prepared for it.
Localising equality would also need bringing stories of ordinary women and not just public figures to the fore, those who have broken stereotypes and have good for themselves and their families. Women from marginalised backgrounds who have improved their economic and social status by working as Uber drivers and conductors, working in MNCs, women who have become sports icons, are few examples.
There is a need to make women heard and visible in every sphere - education, health, economy, security and social protection within the communities first. At United Way Bengaluru, scholarship programs STEM education and mentorship are designed especially for girls from underserved communities to encourage girls in higher education and technical subjects where they are often under-represented. Our rural livelihood interventions are designed in a way that women’s unpaid work and skills are turned into sources of livelihood. For example, livestock cattle rearing and tailoring have a huge potential to impact the livelihood and earning of women. Through training, guidance on running businesses and with some support, women in rural Karnataka have been supported to start livestock and tailoring businesses.
United Way Bengaluru’s Born Learning Campaign initiative with a primary goal to make quality and holistic learning and development accessible to Anganwadi Centre children, also reach out to adolescent girls, pregnant women, lactating women and mothers from the neighbouring communities and create awareness about health and nutrition, provide scholarship support to adolescent underprivileged girls and provide training on financial management to women.
Standing up for women should begin at our courtyard and communities will go a long way towards "inclusive and equitable” nation-building. Women must first be empowered in the private spaces of their households as equality begins at home.