Equality for women is the core of every feminist project. But in an unequal society where in equality is prevailing in almost every sphere of life is it possible to create equality for women? No. it is never ever possible.
Most of the workers in third world are working on unorganized sectors. They are deprived of decent wages and essentials medical aids. They are unprotected from every kind of occupational hazards and they have no social security. But in this field women are more exploited, they are getting less wages than their male colleagues. But in a country where the difference between the super riches and super poor vulgarly exists there equality sounds like a myth. According to United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia the gap between the poor and rich is growing in the Asia Pacific region. India ranks 5th in the Forbes list of super rich people. That same very India ranks 1st in United Nations list of countries where child mortality rate is high. Not less than 6000 children are dying every day in India due to poverty and poverty related diseases. Everyday thousands of children are entering to the stage of grade 3 and grade 4 malnourishment. Due to malnourishment thousands are losing their visions and intellects. Due to poverty thousands of children are joining different hazardous work fields every day. Child trafficking is increasing everyday because poverty in swallowing the India, India, the land of several billionaires and their astonishing stories of success. In a country where economic inequality is so high can we expect equality for women in that very country? My realization is that where survival is the greatest challenge there other fine necessary aspects tend to become secondary. We have tough laws to prevent dowry, child marriage, human trafficking, child labour and sexual harassment at work places. Some of our parliamentarians are trying to pass a bill to 50% reservation for women in parliament to improve the socio political position of Indian women. But in ground reality the scenario is pessimistic or better to say almost unchanged. Lots of women are working on the field of economic empowerment of women. Their belief is that through economic empowerment women will get dignified life in this society which is full of discriminations and institutionalized oppressions. I too believe economic empowerment is necessary. But it is not the only solution. Because most of the below poverty line women, basically from semi urban and urban areas are earning for their families and most of them are the victim of different kind of domestic violence and social discriminations. I have always asked myself why in the land of Durga( goddess of power), Laxmi( Goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Saraswati ( Goddess of education, art and knowledge) women are brutalized, subdued, burnt, sold, kept under educated or illiterate or economically less paid ?
Then one day when I saw a family of scavengers are struggling to push their rickshaw van loaded with garbage they all looked the same, be it the malnourished addicted father, be it the malnourished filthy mouthed mother or be it the dirty little girl or malnourished dim little boy of their family. They all are rootless, deprived of education and opportunities to have a good life. They all are the victims of economic inequalities and systematic socio – political exploitations. If they are the representative of mass India does really so called westernized feminism can make any difference in their lives? Where humanity has lost its homeland, where world’s largest internal migrated people are trying to survive at any cost, where children have no childhood there feminism sounds like word from a different region. I support feminism, I feel proud to introduce myself as feminist but I believe at least in India to improve the condition of women in society we need massive change in our economic and social policies. We need equal and judicious distribution of wealth and work opportunities. We need effective and unbiased education for all along with good medical facilities.

Does it mean India does not need feminism? Of course India needs feminism more than anything, but not in a conventional way. We need feminism to stop child marriage and dowry system. We need feminism to stop domestic violence. Sexually abused women need feminists to guide them in normal life with dignity and to punish the culprits. But these are only few aspects. Women are not isolated from their man of love, parents and children. So unless we, the feminists, are improving the economic, social, moral and ethical structure of underprivileged families of India hardly we will be able to achieve what we call equality for women. We have to broaden our reach and work field. Every single social problem is generated from economic disparity and socio- religious conflicts. So if we want to bring equality, prosperity and health for our women we have to reduce economic disparity and social discriminations. It is tough job but the only option we have.

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Thank you for sharing your piece on feminism and challenging its standard traditional defines. I really appreciated your candid writing on the current situation in India. Additionally, I think your call for an unconventional feminism, that goes beyond traditional efforts, in India is wisely argued. You are right that one must first address the root causes that create gender inequality. In addressing the root causes and creating inclusive structures, the ability to fight for and achieve greater equality for all becomes a possibility. Ideally, one day allowing for a world in which full equality exists (regardless of gender, age, social, economic, religious, and other statuses) and that equality is protected.

Wishing you all the best! Heather Ley

Thank you Heather Ley for those encouraging words. I believe it from my heart and practical experiences that economic inequalities and social discriminations are two major causes behind gender inequalities. Wishing you all the best

Amriyota