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BREAKING PATTERNS
Shikha Tiwari

Feminism or feminist opinion/ideology so to say has been thought to be a pattern, which focuses on breaking families and homes. Most often than not, feminism is assumed to be coming from those women who aren't good at those responsibilities that belong to "woman". Though the complexity and dynamics of men and women as a whole is gloomy, it would be hopelessly pessimistic to assume that things haven't changed. Considering the long history of suppression of women in India, the peculiar characteristics and complexities of our society, and the scale and diversity of the country, the advancement in the status of women achieved during the last 50 years is something of a silent and soft revolution. The development of women situation has been uneven development.

We as women play so many different roles. A womans' life is thought to be a celebration of contributions she makes in every aspect of life: in the home, on the job, in their communities, as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, learners, workers, citizens and leaders. Whether it is while playing with our children in the park, or washing clothes in a river, or taking a break at the office water cooler, we come together and talk about our aspirations and concerns. And time and again, our talk turns to our children and our families. However different we may be, there is far more that unites us than divides us across the globe. We share a common future. It is integral to find common ground so that we may help bring new dignity and respect to women and girls all over the world - and in so doing, bring new strength and stability to families as well. And it would be an understatement to say that this common ground includes the men in our lives too. A woman's struggle is not so much her own or just for the female community. It is a humanistic struggle. It is for the betterment and development of mankind on the whole on earth.

And however different we may be we are told to think of ourselves in relation to someone. We are most often understood as daughters, beloved, wives, sisters and mothers. We are not understood in terms of what we are - we exist in relation to someone else. We need to be understood as individuals too, so I say that it is a humanistic struggle. For men it is a feminist struggle because with that definition it doesn't enforce any pressure on them. They exist as the king of the realm ever after. It's convenient to follow the patriarchy and that stands unquestioned.

It still is a contentious issue whether the lives of women and girls matter to economic and political progress around the globe. What we need to focus around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish. That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every nation on our planet has a stake in the struggle for gender equality. Women comprise more than half the world's population. Women are 70% percent of the world's poor, and two-thirds of those who are not taught to read and write. Women are the primary caretakers for most of the world's children and elderly. Yet much of the work we do is not valued - not by economists, not by historians, not by popular culture, not by government leaders. At this very moment, as I write, women around the world are giving birth, raising children, cooking meals, washing clothes, cleaning houses, planting crops, working on assembly lines, running companies, and running countries. Those of us who know how to read and write should be able to voice their opinion and lead the way for the ones who cannot. It is our responsibility to speak for those who could not.

There is no formula, which can be devised to solve the problem, which women face. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Every woman deserves the chance to realize her God-given potential. We also must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected and protected. We are the ones who give birth and nurture so many lives into human beings but tragically, it is our human rights are violated which are most often violated. This violation has continued because, for too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words.

It is a violation of human rights when women and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution. It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small. It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war. It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes. It is a violation of human rights when young girls are brutalized by the painful and degrading practice of genital mutilation. It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will. If there is one message that echoes forth from this, it is that human rights are women's rights - and women's rights are human rights.

Families rely on mothers and wives for emotional support and care; families rely on women for labor in the home; and increasingly, families rely on women for income needed to raise healthy children and care for other relatives. Now it is time to act on behalf of women everywhere. If we take bold steps to better the lives of women, we will be taking bold steps to better the lives of children and families too. Not it is the time for them to stand up for the cause of women. It is integral for men to get out of their system of convenience and supremacy to stand up for the cause of humans in general.







Men's Role in Gender Equality
Shikha Tiwari

Ideas about manhood are deeply ingrained. From an early age, boys may be socialized into gender roles designed to keep men in power and in control. Many grow up to believe that dominant behaviour towards girls and a woman is part of being a man. Risk-taking and aggressive sexual behaviour on the part of young men are often applauded by peers and condoned by society. These stereotypes result in harm to both women and men, and erode possibilities of establishing satisfying, mutually respectful relationships. Targeted messages that can help boys and young men reflect upon and discuss issues surrounding masculinity, relationships and sexuality can contribute to the deconstruction of negative, high-risk and sometimes harmful attitudes.

Because the right to reproductive and sexual health is so integrally related to a woman's well being, it can serve as a useful entry point to a discussion on empowerment. Conversely, neglecting a woman's right to reproductive and sexual health lies at the root of many problems. Women cannot achieve sexual and reproductive health without the participation of men. One clear example is the spread of HIV. Men are involved in almost every case of transmission of the virus and usually have greater power to protect themselves and their partners. Coercion and abuse, including rape, increase the risks.

The AIDS pandemic has helped underscore the linkages between power relations and sexual and reproductive health. And it has demonstrated that half of the population has been neglected in terms of reproductive and sexual health.

Children, parents and society benefit when men become more actively involved with their family. However, while the duties of a father vary greatly throughout the world, responsibility for children, in particular, is still seen as belonging to the mother. Fathers spend about a third as much time as mothers in providing direct childcare. However, in both developed and developing countries, a new ideal of fatherhood is emerging. The "new" father: supports the mother during pregnancy and childbirth, has close relationships with his children, cooperates with his partner, and shares in household tasks. While this ideal is, indeed, evolving, practice is slow to change. To successfully promote male involvement in the family, concerned leaders, governments, and NGOs must begin by confronting cultural barriers and providing education that prepares them for a broader fathering role.

Women's empowerment is the process by which unequal power relations between men and women are transformed and women gain greater equality with men. This transformation has been widely recognized -- in international, regional and national conferences'- as a basic human right as well as an imperative for national development and global progress. At the government level, women's empowerment includes extending to them all fundamental social, economic and political rights. On the individual level, it includes processes by which women gain inner power to express and defend their rights and gain greater self-esteem and control over their own lives and relationships. Male participation and acceptance of changed roles are an essential element of these processes.







Generic Scene of Gender Situation
Shikha Tiwari

Human development, if not engendered, is endangered." this message of the 1995 Human Development Report must be kept alive in all aspects of life and social development. The current "gender and development" focus acknowledges that the lives and livelihoods of men and women are interwoven. It necessitates that all policies, programmes and procedures to further the objective of equality between women and men. Gender mainstreaming -- "taking account of gender concerns in all policy, programme, administrative and financial activities, and in organizational procedures" -- has been endorsed by all agencies.

Despite the gains made in improving the situation of women, the reality continues to be disturbing, and bleak statistics have now become familiar. Women continue to constitute the majority of the world's poor - 70% of those living in poverty are women -- and in no society do women enjoy the same opportunities as men. This is a development reality and issue that affects all our other work and achievements and it is a shared responsibility.

The advancement of women can be considered a threat to the power-base of men, at both professional and personal levels. In addition, gender equality can be dismissed by men as being a "women's" issue. Under this construct of fear, there is also a degree of insecurity among men in being advocates for gender equality. Men hesitate to adopt a gender equality stance in part from not wanting to be misunderstood and/or ridiculed.

The Government of India had ushered in the new millennium by declaring the year 2001 as Women's Empowerment Year, to focus on "Our vision in the new century of a nation where women are equal partners with men". So what was the grandiose official declaration all about? A lot of programs with fancy names: Swashakti and Stree Shakti for women's empowerment; Swayam Sidha to benefit 100,000 women through micro-credit programs, Balika Samrudhi Yojana for the girl child and some 2,000 other projects, all with unimpeachable good intentions.

Political empowerment still remains a distant dream for Indian women. The Congress party began the "empowerment year" by lowering its quota for women in the AICC panel, after announcing its allegiance to 33 per cent representation. Reservation for women in Parliament was among the promises made in the ruling BJP's election manifesto. Three years after the Vajpayee Government came to power the Bill still remains in cold storage.

"Women's Empowerment Year" was announced with much fanfare. But where are the results? Except for organizing seminars and making speeches, what has the government done?" asks Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Najma Heptulla. "All three sessions of Parliament are over but the Women's Reservation Bill has not even been discussed. When the government is not ready to give political empowerment to women, how will economic empowerment be possible?" As for the programs announced by the government, Heptulla feels that they should be considered normal developmental initiatives. "After all, women form 50 per cent of the population so the government is supposed to formulate such programs. They are not special to the empowerment year."

Gender equality, equality between men and women, entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Gender equality means that the different behaviour, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally. It does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender Mainstreaming is " the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action including legislation, policies, and programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women's and men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality." The development of any society is impossible without gender equality and gender mainstreaming. Unless all sections of the society are working on an equal platform, it is difficult to even assume the overall sustainable development of any society.






ROLE OF MEDIA - II
Shikha Tiwari

We have been talking about the role of media in shaping the "idea of womanhood" within not just the male psyche but also in the mindset of women themselves. It would be an understatement to say that media plays a very very important role in shaping our thought process. Needless to say that it is a politically construed gender construct, the foundation of which lies in the assumed sexual difference. It is a powerful medium indeed and it can make people think - "think" yes, but only what it wants or what suits it. It shall not be problematic to say that it is hindrance in the socio-political and economic progress of the nation. Media and literature are so to say the mirrors of the society. Unfortunately, the problems, issues and the conflict that the media raises through its various mediums of expression are not the ones which women of the modern world face. It is disheartening to know any creation of the media does not reflect the woman and its substance, as it is in the real sense of the world.


I would devote this article to assess or so to say provide a critical review of what we see on the small and big screen in the present day. In today's modern world with its technological advancements and development, the face of our everyday live seems to have undergone a change. And this sea change has been complemented by the advancements in the mind-blowing progress in the world of communication.

For I am sure quite a few of you must have seen the latest box office hit "Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham". It is supposed to be a film about loving your parents. Well by the time one reaches the interval period one realizes that it doesn't do what it proclaims. For if that's the way one is supposed to love one's parents I guess one needs to redefine either the idea of love or the relationship between parents and children. And if there is anything in the world that brings the separated parents and children together is only the death of grandparents, the idea needs to be re-questioned. What seems simply deplorable is the idea that besides the fact that a woman is one major half of the family structure, their role seems to be fairly subsidiary. There is only once in the film that a woman speaks and that too is just a surprise or wonder to the idea of patriarchy. She still doesn't question it in the major sense of the word. Besides this what is even more offending to the idea of womanhood is the proclamation that the only thing she needs is a man in life, whether a father, lover or a husband. And they have a complete right to make a cast for a woman's life, which is to decide what shape will it take. And patriarchy does give them the right to decide what course will a woman's life take.

The only question, which still seems unanswered, is that who has given them the right to decide that they can cast a mould for a woman's life. Does it not bring into question the comprehensive idea of womanhood? What is a woman and who makes what it is perceived to be?





WOMEN AND THE MEDIA AT WORK
Shikha Tiwari

Of late we have understood that media is the voice of the public. Our opinions theirs and our struggles theirs. Media has always played a very important role in shaping not only just our lifestyles but our mindsets as well. More often than not our perception of our own personality is guided by what a powerful medium like The Media thinks of us. The very notion that media reflects what the masses feel is in itself is distorted. It is not that the media reflects what we think rather they mould our thinking and it becomes such a vicious trap that it is impossible to find a way out. It seems like the chakravyuh made in the war of Mahabharata, which seems undecipherable. Is it a war that the media is fighting or is it a war waged by them only? In concrete terms it seems that we women are striving to maintain that image which is painted by the media.


The Media has developed a socio-sexual-generic structure where the woman is expected to fit in to suit the consumer or the society at large. Since the dawn of marketing, advertisers have tried to sell their products by exploiting our needs such as sex, power, beauty, and money. These needs are used to sell the consumer anything from shoes to cigarettes. As ridiculous and crazy as it sounds, it is effective and can often times have negative cumulative effects on society as a whole. On a daily basis people are bombarded with a host of different advertisements and commercialized rhetoric. It is unavoidable to the average citizen who constantly sees women portrayed as sex symbols, conveniently displaying their "assets" for all to see. And it is this created image which the women try to live up to. Not knowing whether it defines their own personality or not, it becomes a prototype of a successful woman. And who doesn't want to be successful?

They also depict the woman in the traditional old-fashioned way of life. These two kinds of ads define the role and place of women in the society. A young women's presence in a grocery store plus the only product in her basket at the store being a box of laundry detergent contribute to the stereotype of a woman's place in the home. Not only are people's attitudes towards women being influenced, but also their attitudes towards their environment. As she is seen again gazing at herself in the refrigerator and dryer doors, she is taken away from her urban reality and placed into a tropical paradise. Besides solving the problem media has been involved in aggravating, rather creating a problem out of nowhere.

A day near the television set can actually kill a woman with enough self esteem to death. The roles, portrayals; the images crafted; the problems raised and the issues discussed and apparently solved are just not what the woman of the modern world faces. What is in fact a woman is also problematic and false. But we seem to be chasing it like cats and dogs. Indeed it just helps to establish that statue, the goddess so to say; to keep it on a pedestal to be worshipped. That's the most non-threatening situation. For the "Woman of Substance" is a threatening situation to the man dominated world. The media is doing today what Spencer and Donne apparently did during their times . It is a politically crafted situation, which suits the takers in this world. It seems like barter system, everything is quantifiable. Everything is consumable, everything can be sold and bought. And why not if it appeals to the eye?

Had we not been running after the viciously crafted image, I guess the entire substance of woman at large would have been much different form what it is now. As of now we are still moving ahead fast in a den where there is definitely a dead end at the end of the journey. How shallow can this journey of life can be?




DYNAMICS OF MOTHERHOOD
Shikha Tiwari

Motherhood is in all terms the most respected and idealized stage in a woman's life, especially with respect to the Indian socio-cultural system. Though it is not so difficult to visualize and understand the dynamics involved in it, but more often than not it is chosen to compartmentalize and ideologically authenticate the mother's role. Like in the Spensarian literature, women were supposed to be placed on a pedestal and worshipped. For that's the most non-threatening position for men. The very idea of viewing one's beloved in the role of a goddess, is almost like putting a free bird in a golden jail and making the bird feel that this is the best thing which can happen to her. Somehow it is the best way to ensure that the bird can't fly. But there is a whole lot of politics involved in this entire structure. It is not only patriarchy or a power structure but also a gender and sex dominated system. It is not difficult to imagine that for what reasons has the exploration of such a system being denied; not only denied but buried all through.


However, it is important to bear in mind that the sex-gender system is not merely a structured set of power relationships. Sex drives and the rules of the Eros game are far too powerful to be contained within the set of powerful relations that constitute patriarchy. The sex system and the gender system are two distinct, interrelated systems. The latter is a culturally constructed system construing gender in specific shapes. A woman or a man is not born. In shaping of genders, a culture is reproduced, and the relationships of power are redefined within it. The sex system, however, lies at a deeper level of the biopsychic structure of the individual, and is in some man is born, and can be remade only up to the point. The psychic structure, as Freud demonstrated, is rooted in a largely un-modifiable id, however much the ego and the superego might try and control it. There is therefore a sex system, and a set of interlocking drives and checks that have a powerful impact on the individual's emotions. The gender system, superimposed over the sex system, modifies the latter to some degree but not beyond that.

To express it as a formula, the sex system arises out of the biological differences between men and women; whereas the gender system arises from the culturally reproduced distinctions between them. The gender system is closely moulded by class; but the sex system, that lies at its core is in some measure beyond the reach of class. Gender and class have therefore been closely linked in human experience ever since the emergence of civilization: together they mould the mentality that is prevalent in all the civilized societies.

While the mind belong to the individual and the bio - psychic structure must necessarily correspond to a particular body and mind, mentality belongs to the society in which an individual is born and brought up. The mental outlook is culturally constituted, and in its constitution there is a melange of Eros, emotions, power drives. This view of the matter takes into account the culturally reproduced as well as the biological difference between man and woman, and does not fail to give due consideration to the psychic and emotional relationships that arise from this. The older term 'man-woman relationship' which preceded the current term 'gender relation', was sensitive to the psychic dimension of the sex gender system.

In this context if we see, the mental, social and emotional baggage which is attached with the idea or the role of being a mother. It is probably a situation where a woman is most bargained. The maternal instinct that a woman brings up her children kind of compartmentalize her as someone emotional, sensitive, forgiving and vulnerable and this is the image which kind of travels with her all through her life. Pregnancy is in some ways the best time to make the women feel such an ideal of love and care that she may never be able to get out of that mould. And this structure is not just male dominated but approved by the society (which is certainly male dominated). It is in this structure; social and ideological that a woman is born and brought up. This kind of a structure ensures that she will never be able to get away from that mould of thinking that she is nothing but emotional and sensitive.




DIMENSIONS OF REPRODUCTIVE VIOLENCE
Shikha Tiwari

Around the world at least one woman in every three has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Most often the abuser is a member of her own family. Increasingly, gender-based violence is recognized as a major public health concern and a violation of human rights. The effects of violence can be devastating to a woman's reproductive health as well as to other aspects of her physical and mental well being. In addition to causing injury, violence increases women's long-term risk of a number of other health problems, including chronic pain, physical disability, drug and alcohol abuse, and depression. Women with a history of physical or sexual abuse are also at increased risk for unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Yet victims of violence who seek care from health professionals often have needs that providers do not recognize, do not ask about, and do not know how to address.


Violence against women and girls includes physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse. It is often known as "gender-based" violence because it evolves in part from women's subordinate status in society. Many cultures have beliefs, norms, and social institutions that legitimize and therefore perpetuate violence against women. The same acts that would be punished if directed at an employer, a neighbor, or an acquaintance often go unchallenged when men direct them at women, especially within the family. Two of the most common forms of violence against women are abuse by intimate male partners and coerced sex, whether it takes place in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. Intimate partner's abuse also known as domestic violence, wife beating, and battering is almost always accompanied by psychological abuse and in one-quarter to one-half of cases by forced sex as well. The majority of women who are abused by their partners are abused many times. In fact, an atmosphere of terror often permeates abusive relationships. Violence against women is the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world. It also is a profound health problem, sapping women's energy, compromising their physical health, and eroding their self-esteem. Despite its high costs, almost every society in the world has social institutions that legitimize, obscure, and deny abuse. The same acts that would be punished if directed at an employer, a neighbour, or an acquaintance often go unchallenged when men direct them at women, especially within the family.

While intimate partner abuse is widespread, it is not universal. Anthropologists have documented small-scale societies such as the Wape of Papua New Guinea's where domestic violence is virtually absent (95, 275). This finding stands as testament to the fact that social relations can be organized in a way that minimizes partner abuse. In many places the prevalence of such violence varies substantially among neighbouring areas (255, 319). These local differences are often greater than the differences among countries. For example, in Uttar Pradesh, India, the percentage of men who said they beat their wives varied from 18% in Naintal District to 45% in Banda (319). The percentage that physically forced their wives to have sex varied from 14% to 36% among districts.

Not some very relevant matter is available as to why do such violence happen only in a certain strata of society. However, poverty increases the risks of violence whether it is due to low income itself or to other factors that accompany poverty, such as crowding or hopelessness. For some men, living in poverty is likely to generate stress, frustration, and a sense of inadequacy for having failed to live up to their culturally defined role of provider. Poverty may also provide cause for marital disagreements and at the same time make it difficult for women to leave violent or otherwise unsatisfactory relationships. And it becomes a vicious circle, which affects the women's mental and emotional well being.




ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Shikha Tiwari

Elimination of violence against women has been a vital area of concern for leading scholars from all areas of study of late. Though it is encouraging to believe that it is discussed as an issue of social concern across various tables but no so much as at the same time they chosen to leave out the dynamics of the whole social construct. The various level and the forms on which the discrimination exists is conveniently narrowed. There is a difference between gender and sex and the violence, which occurs at both these levels, can be so varied that it is nearly impossible to separate these parameters when the intensity of violence is concerned. But then a little move in the right direction can do some good at the end of it. So far so good the UN Convention does say, "...The full and complete development of a country, the welfare of the world and the cause of peace require the maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields". For probably the convenience of doing some work effectively in this area, discrimination is understood only as "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex...in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field". The Convention gives positive affirmation to the principle of equality by requiring the governing authorities to provide all appropriate measures, including legislation, relating the rights of women as human rights imperative for social upliftment and progress.


Most often than not the marital status of women is considered to be an obstacle in the progress especially economic growth. The women's legal status has been linked to marriage, making them dependent on their husband's nationality rather than individuals in their own right. But these equations become all the more problematic in the case of rural women whose particular struggles and vital economic contributions to the country are much higher than other women or even men in the cities. This seem rather significantly crucial keeping in mind the educational opportunities and options to be equal with men working in the same field as they and the awareness levels as well. Article 15 asserts the full equality of women in civil and business matters, demanding that all instruments directed at restricting women's legal capacity ''shall be deemed null and void". in this concern role of a woman as a mother and their reproductive rights are extremely important provide them economic liberty and status. The preamble sets the tone by stating that "the role of women in procreation should not be a basis for discrimination". Most often then not maternity is not considered as another social responsibility. In fact it is just another instrument to stop their growth and development. If a certain set of circumstance stun anyone's growth, then it does not mean that there is enough freedom in the air to live. The link between discrimination and women's reproductive role is a matter of recur ent concern in the Convention. For example, it advocates, in article 5, ''a proper understanding of maternity as a social function", demanding fully shared responsibility for child rearing by both sexes. Accordingly, provisions for maternity protection and child-care are proclaimed as essential rights and are incorporated into all areas of the Convention, whether dealing with employment, family law, health core or education.




THE ECONOMICS OF THE LIFE OF MODERN WOMEN
Shikha Tiwari

Most often than not it is found that the modern day gifted women face a lot of challenges and fight numerous struggles in the present social system. Some say may be they are too modern or in that sense too equipped to face the modern day struggle. Women in today's world are aware that they have faced enough challenges and miseries to channelized a thorough defense mechanism, which does not only make them prepared to strive through the tough moments but also come out successfully through each of these moments. It makes them stronger and more confident but at the same time unfit for the world.

BATTLES
Many battles have I fought,
It means existence to me,
Its eternal love between us,
Wed in a pre-natal ceremony,
Tachycardia meant breathing a struggle,
Devotion meant love a struggle,
Loyalty meant friendship a struggle,
Sincerity meant existence a struggle,
And I love it now,
A pseudonym of my existence.

And all these year things haven't been easier for us women of late. We have strived struggled, challenged the prevalent social structure and got out the hard way out, successfully. But how many of us are appreciated on that account. They don't even realize that there is any struggle whatsoever in a woman's life. For men all the struggles in this world are saved for them for only they are equipped to face them. Most often the thought of getting married is so very difficult because we are not looked up for what we are. But we are weighed on that scale where we, our self, identify does not show anywhere. It is still supposed to be that baggage of identities beyond our self, which is meant to please. And the modern day woman has consciously chosen not to be take up that job of pleasing for she never gets it back.

Its like all my life, I am conditioned to prepare myself for the big bad world. And when we are grown up enough to have made that our lifestyle, we are expected to let it go because that independence and grit was required to fight the world alone. But now when its time to get married, which means, " a woman would have someone to look after" she is supposed to let that entire tussle go for its not needed. For now that her independence grit, courage has kept her safe, she can easily get into marriage.

Men were able to exercise their power for their economic position but its not the same now. She is economically sound and is not ready to let the independence of mind rot in the rut. And that's certainly a problem, which we are all fighting nowadays. For god may someone respect us for what we are?



ECONOMIC EQUALITY
Shikha Tiwari

All these years' women have felt economically suppressed just because when a man enters the home on the 1st of a month and gives his entire month's salary in his wife's hand, he immediately places himself in a situation of power. Its not so much an issue that he is being considerate to his wife's needs but the fact that it is "HE" who provides everything at home. The very structure that a man will go out and earn places women in a second position. It suits the man's machismo and egoism to cater to all the needs of a woman and his family. And it continues to keep him at a higher platform. And to keep women suppressed all through.

Economic inequality is a central fact of women's lives in every country in the world, and a central manifestation of discrimination against women. Women's economic inequality includes a range of conditions - from utter destitution to the overall inequality of women's share of wealth, property, income and resources. Women are 70 percent of the world's poor and they own 1 per cent of the world's wealth. In every country in the world, women are poorer than men, and their poverty and economic inequality affects every aspect of their lives - their basic survival and the survival of their children, their access to food and housing, their physical security, their ability to escape from violence, their sexual autonomy, their health, their access to education and literacy, their access to justice, their ability to participate in public life, their ability to influence and participate in decisions that affect them. Women's economic inequality is integrally connected to their sexual exploitation and to their lack of political power. As long as women as a group do not have an equal share of the world's economic resources, they will not have an equal say in shaping the world's future.

There is growing evidence that the standardized economic agenda now being implemented globally - which encourages diminishing the size of governments, cutting social programs, privatizing public services, and deregulating markets - is having a negative impact on the economic and social conditions of women. In fact, women's inequality is deepening, as evidenced by the increasing poverty of women, and the proliferation of sweatshops and other forms of economic exploitation, including trafficking in women. On a global level, economic policy is being treated as though it is unrelated to the human rights of women.

Although the economic and social rights movement has been successful in putting specific rights such as the right to food, housing, and health on the human rights agenda, this movement has failed to consider the particularity of women's experience and consequently failed to incorporate a gender perspective into the interpretation and treatment of these rights. Gender-neutral treatment of economic, social and cultural rights does not advance women's equality. Programs designed to improve economic and social conditions often work best for men because they do not consider or account for the gendered character of poverty. Women are poorer than men in every society, and they are poor for different reasons. Women's persistent poverty and economic inequality are caused by a number of interlocking factors, including: the social assignment to women of the unpaid role of caregiver and nurturer for children, men, and elderly people; the fact that in the paid labour force women perform the majority of the work in the 'caring' occupations and this 'women's work' is usually lower paid than 'men's work'; the lack of affordable, safe child care; the entrenched devaluation of the labour of minority women, including indigenous women, migrant workers, women in the informal sector and women with disabilities; the economic penalties that women incur when they are unattached to men, or have children alone; and laws, policies and traditions which treat women as adjuncts to men and deny women independent entitlement to credit and loans, and to own, rent, or inherit land, property and housing.


GENDER SENSITISATION
Shikha Tiwari

In this article I will talk about a specific experience of my own. In the past few years I have been involved in conducting gender sensitisation teacher development programmes with government school teachers. The basic idea of sensitising this group was primarily that these teachers play a very significant role in shaping the minds of those children of belong to the less privileged economic group of the society. However they belong to the less privileged economic group, they turn up to be the torchbearers to the future nation. It becomes imperative to deal with such a group especially on an issue of discrimination, because the future of any society and successful society depends on equality of all groups. The issue is not a feminist one but a humanist issue. It is important for all groups to thrive on an equal plane.

The basic framework of the workshop was such that it tried to establish the distinction between gender and sex. Most often than not these two aspects are thought to be one. Anyway the workshop was designed in a way that it involved the participants in a way that it would evolve such issues and questions form their mind and ask them to re-question those ideologies themselves. Each of these workshops that I conduct are always a learning process for myself - each time I happen to interact with a new group and it's a new understanding for me at all times. But it was only this time I came across a group of men who were almost shouting or one can say that pleading that they do not exercise their power or authority upon their wives or daughters or their sisters because they like it. Their plea was that since women don't raise a voice they assume that it is acceptable. But at the same time they forget that women are not taught to raise a voice, and since they take it silently it is supposed to be suppression or exploitation. But then we men don't do it. I had come across these argument manier times during my workshops in all these years but I always countered it. But this time I don't know when this man said the same thing time and again I was forced to hear his voice. And he repeatedly said the same thing.

Why I am pointing this out is that we women are going through a certain kind of a problem, some kind of exploitation, which the men folk has been knowingly or unknowingly given it to us in all these years. But at the same time we forget that we have always taken it too. And may be taken it in the wrong way too. If we need to fight this struggle effectively we need to look at the whole structure in a positive way that it was rightly structured at some point of time. Of course when I am saying all this I am excluding all those women who are less fortunate in terms of the educational support they have received. But a change needs to come through the more educated lot. We need to understand the dynamics of the complete social structure, its design and its need and only then can we fight it.



HOW DOES IT HAPPEN
Shikha Tiwari

It's a Sunday and the husband is fast asleep. The wife gets up at her usual time and begins the day's chores. It begins like any other day for her. She has her morning cup of tea. Everyday her husband accompanied her for their first cup of tea. They began their day together though he would go away very soon for his work, and she would be all alone. But then that's a part of life. He has to go to work and the wife stays back home waiting for him eagerly to return back at the end of the day. He returns back home finishing the day's job, back to her. She is happy, elated and joyous that her husband is back to her to spend time with her, to speak to her to listen to her.

But the husband is too tired he has been listening to so many people for so many hours now that it seems an impossible job. He has been dealing with varied sets of crisis all the day that he just wants to retire to bed to prepare for another set of crisis situations. Even if she wants to talk to him she can hardly talk because he would not respond the way she would like him to. And this crisis goes on and on. But now it's a Sunday. She assumes that there would be enough time to spend qualitatively with each other. But today's the only day he would not be dealing with any other group, which would need his time, his expertise or for that matter would need him in any other appeal but himself.

But that's only half the story. She waits everyday to talk to him. And now that it is a Sunday she has all the more reason o assume that she would be able to spend some quality time with her husband. But then he is not ready or willing and then isn't it too difficult to do anything in this male dominated society without their acceptance.

If at last he ever plans to give her some time the only thing they blame she would talk about is her family, the home, the walls in the house seeping, the neighborhood daughter not doing too well and he is bugged. He assumed that she would talk about something interesting and romantic to him. This is the scene of every house in India where the wives don't go for work.

We have discarded this problem thinking that there is no solution to this but then this hasn't stopped hitting our minds with the same force or in fact hurting the wife with the same intensity as it used to hurt some two three centuries back.

That's because we have stopped understanding the dynamics of any situation different form ours. We are so self centered that it becomes absolutely unnecessary for us to give any consideration to the other person's situation. This is a very easy situation to understand. And each one would understand the others' situation better if he/she is put in the others' shoe for some time.

The typical and standard, social roles and structures that our society has created, during the past few centuries has been so embedde in us that it is difficult to think otherwise. But it is these very social structures, which are creating discord and disharmony in our lives now. Our age old traditions and norms have so differentiated men and women just because it suits a certain social structure, that now that very social structure and the basis of same needs to be questioned. If the basis of these structures and formula is convenience then, we need to just re-question our very fundamentals of existence.

If our existence has always meant just giving absolutely no importance to the other person's needs, space and individuality, we need to ask ourselves where are we going and what are we doing. At this stage it becomes imperative to understand ourselves better to understand the other person best. Giving meaning to our situation is integral to understand the other person's situation. And it is not the other for that matter. It is a part of our self. Our self is a set of all our past experiences and our present moment, which is our future. Everything that surrounds us is a part of our self; it is important to be in harmony with this other to be in harmony with our self.


REPRESSION
Shikha Tiwari

In my previous articles, I have spoken about repression in various ways, which are mostly situated in the socio-generic construct. With repression, here I mean all ways and means, which ensure the unfulfilled state of a girl child's mind. We have dealt with problems at work place,at home that can take so many different forms, can effect the mind in so many different ways, to such a great extent that there is no coming back. Most often than not we are not even aware of this damage because it is embedded in the mind…it is deep within the psychological processes of the mind… and the scar is invisible to people whose senses are blind.

The best way which our society has used till now in order to ensure the killing of a girl child: mind it I am here talking in terms of mind, the conscious and the subconscious is to constantly keep telling the girl child, "this is no way to behave! This is no way to sit, why are you speaking in such a manner?" and so on… questions like these ensure that the girl child cannot think by herself. Everything that she does is labeled as illegal or unacceptable. It is difficult to put it down on paper that what is the effect on any child if he/she is left with no correct answers. This is the type of conditioning that the girl child grows within, but even then anything and everything that is related to a girl child is specific, peculiar, indigenous and gravely wrong.

In so far as Freud referred to any conditioning at all in early stages of his researches, he had in mind the concept of repression. Till late it was a matter of study and research whether repression was socio-culturally constituted at all? A little reflection would show however that every individual has a range of wishes, not all of which can be fulfilled. The emotional history of a culture is based in the socio-cultural construct. In so far as the conscious emotions are shaped by repression - and it ought to be borne in mind that are allowed to surface from the lower depths of the mind - the emotional history of a culture must also give weight to the processes of repression. Human emotions are permanent but they are shaped by social and historical processes into sentiments. Thus emotions and sentiments change over time to time from one culture to another. Emotions can be both conscious and subconscious. It is always more difficult to track the unconscious emotions than the conscious ones. But in our society, the age-old trend has been just to deny it completely. Especially when it comes to the girl child. And more often than not, we forget that it is the emotions and ideas both conscious and subconscious which form the mentality and attitude.

It seems like a vicious circle. We women are blamed to have a sick and narrow mind, a mind that can not think and formulate anything. But then we are made to live in a society, in a construct where we are not allowed to think and if at all we think it is shirked off; for a simple reason that it shakes the code of human law. Would somebody ask them where are we to go?


GENDER POLITICS
Shikha Tiwari

How often has each one of us felt that we face a sad or an embarrassing situation only because we are women? How often does it not happen that we are into a group of men who pass on leading statements about women's sexuality? If we just take a minute to think before we read on, we would find that numerous times we come across these moments, sometimes we just ignore the whole thing as if it never happened and for that matter we are not even aware if anything happened.

For we have got so used to such incidents. At the same time there are times when such incidents can just scar a young girls mind to an extent that probably things can never the same for her. And how often does our society and here I would include the older women, thought about all this in its depth.

For example, Fat is (still) a feminist issue. Distorted unattainable sexist images are the inevitable consequences of a social system in which those with power benefit from the exploitation of women in the home and the workplace. The most effective way to combat this phenomenon is to develop strong campaigns involving large numbers of women which aim to change women's unequal living conditions in a whole range of spheres and out of which alternative images, created by women themselves, will develop.

'A WOMAN can't be too rich or too thin' so said the Duchess of Windsor, and so says every fashion and beauty magazine, every television ad, every weight loss center and even many families, friends and doctors. Fat is bad; thinness will bring you happiness.

This is being taken to extremes in the fashion industry's 'waif' look: hollow cheeks and skeletal bodies. The Beauty Myth, written by Naomi Wolf in 1990, powerfully documents the effects of the unattainable body ideal on women's physical and mental health, and indicts the fashion, cosmetics and plastic surgery industries, which benefit from women's misery to the tune of billions of dollars a year.

These profits are made by creating a deep sense of dissatisfaction amongst millions of women about their bodies, a dissatisfaction that is growing with the growing gap between the 'ideal' body and reality. But why can't women simply ignore all the ads and fashion magazines? They know from their own observations of reality that these ideals are fantasy.

Media images also do have a powerful effect, but they are also continually reinforced in everyday life. Comments on women's appearance are so commonplace and accepted that we can underestimate the effect they have on how women see themselves. Women are described in terms of what they look like; rather than what they think or do, far more than men: 'Mr Jones and his beautiful wife Sandy'. Family and friends comment weight loss on favorably: 'You're looking so well.You've lost weight.' Approval for being thin and disapproval for being fat, has more impact on a woman's self-perception. Needless to say, that this is only one kind of violence, which comes to a girl's mind. Passing out statements within the train, a bus, or any local conveyance for that matter can be equally hazardous. An incident of this kind probably takes only one second to happen but it spoils her completely.

It is suffering and not suffrage that keeps us women up on our pedestals. And if God hadn't wanted us up on pedestals, he wouldn't have made us shorter than our husbands. Well it never takes an extra sense to feel what the other person has undergone. And only if these men could have understood what we do feel and sense. Only if they would not have been judgmental to the extent that we don't exist and we can't feel anything. But it is high time we stopped living in hope that men would ever change or for that matter the society would actually pave the way for our peace.

Believe me, much of the strength comes from the mind. Before one actually starts doing something one has to think that one actually do it.

If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don't
If you like to win, but you think you can't
It's almost certain you won't

Life's battles don't always go,
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins,
Is the man WHO thinks HE CAN!

Similarly, we have to really shun this out of their minds that men are any superior to us or they have the powers. If you look at it from the other way, it is we who rule their lives sexually. So dear, where is the problem. Nowhere, but in ourselves. We have to consciously forget that we are weak before we can start feeling stronger.

Why can't we feel proud and laugh upon the thing that we regulate their lives in every sense of the word and are intelligent and witty enough to make them feel that they rule us. We face more challenges and hardships than them and come out successfully. Don't you (all women folk) think that men have actually been living in an illusory world and we have helped them do so, just for the reason that they feel happy about it. Moreover, it is one of those innate numerous qualities of women to make the world a happier place in their little/big ways in their little/big worlds.

So is the question hierarchy and power still troubling? Why can't we feel happy that we can do so many things and keep people happy at the same time?


WOMEN AT WORK
Shikha Tiwari

Young women entering today's workforce have more opportunities than previous generations. Not only are more women working, but also women occupy more senior, high-paying jobs than ever before. Women have moved from typing pools and schoolrooms all the way to corporate management. But while women face limitless opportunities on the job, the same cannot be said for their future retirement. Women face a lot of problems and challenges at their workplace due to their position in the social structure. 'Sex' does not just mean one thing. In fact the significance of sexual practices is that they stand in for so much, which can go, unsaid or misinterpreted as a result. It's rare for two people to be explicit about what they want and mean when they make love/have sex for the first time. The needs and fantasies expressed through sex make us feel too vulnerable, or too guilty, maybe. Yet people assume that 'sex' is simply about bodily pleasure and doesn't mean anything else. This comes from the assumption which sees sexual urges as natural and direct, unmediated by society as a biological urge has been applied to women's sexuality. So the meaning of 'sex' is different for women and men.

For example, the curious phenomenon - men refusing sex with women where there was a mutual attraction - would not have seemed so curious in the case of a woman. Men are assumed to want sex anywhere for its own sake. A man would sum up his sexuality in such terms: 'I want to fuck. I need to fuck. I've always needed and wanted to fuck.' It would be unusual to hear a woman say that. Traditional assumptions rather place women as wanting sex within the security of married life and motherhood.

Gender difference thus means that women and men experience their sexuality differently. According to Freud, material is repressed through defence mechanisms. These do not operate only within a person, but between people.

However, a psychoanalytic account does not draw the implications about the power differences, which result from these dynamics. Gender difference means that women are suitable vehicles for men's projections: they have already been constructed in such a way that they manifest the characteristics that men are suppressing. Likewise they experience themselves as wanting commitment and materially are more likely to be in the position of needing it, because this is how they have been positioned historically. Thus women's and men's positions are complementary, in the sense that these gender differences make it likely that both men and women will see men as wanting uncommitted sex and women needing committed relationship. The way that gender produces different identities leads to collusion between women and men, which make changes in these areas difficult. None the less, the effect is consistently oppressive to women: it reproduces a power difference where men are supposedly free of needs and are invulnerable. Women are left carrying this for both. No wonder we sometime feel powerless! Despite collusion, the resultant contradictions have created a significant space for change.

If men's sexuality were wholly accountable through these gender positions (subject of natural drives, object of women's wishes for commitment), why would they ever stay with women, need women, feel strong emotions, and feel lost and desperate when women leave them? The answer is that 'sex' does mean more than natural urges for men too, but their subject position in that discourse offers them the possibility of repressing their strong needs of women. They take up this position unconsciously, as the slippage from one meaning to another in J's account illustrated. As psychoanalytical theory would insist, the slippage of meanings, the inconsistencies and illogicalities; they are motivated. As M's account illustrates, they are motivated by the extreme vulnerability which is the consequence of needing a woman that much - a consequence which is not eradicated when the feelings are projected onto her.


" SHOULD PROSTITUTION BE LEGALIZED ? "

The arguments raised for and against the legalization proposition warrant an objective debate, as the issue is too complex and complicated. No doubt the pros and cons have to be examined thoroughly, care has also to be taken to ensure that the debate does not get mired in misplaced emotions, hypothetical assumptions and finally into a war of nerves between the protagonists and antagonists.

The debate must determine, define and deliberate upon the issues in the backdrop of recent developments the world over, the ideas of which have reached us and have inspired many people-feminists, human rights activists and commercial sex workers themselves. Let us for a moment think on the genesis of the debate which is somewhat like an old song sung on several world congresses on sexology and too many discussions on the plight of commercial sex workers (prostitutes in popular parlance) have had heated deliberations on legalizing prostitution as the only practical solution to the degradation and dehumanization of those women and girls (including girls children) who are engaged in flesh trade that flourishes unchecked in many countries especially those in our region where exploitation denotes the key feature of prostitutes' life conditions.

Let us first listen to those who favor legalization. The protagonists argue that we must recognize and accept the inevitability of prostitution in no uncertain terms and bring in some rules and safeguards to protect the interest of prostitutes. The other equally forceful argument is that by providing a legal status to this notorious profession of ancient vintage, we can partly control the daunting specter of AIDS of which prostitutes are the main carriers. Legalization the approvers say will enable prostitutes to insist on safe sex by forcing their clients to use condoms. Another argument of no less significance is that legalization will end clandestine operation of the trade, as there would be clearly marked authorized places of business. Legalization, approvers say, will entail statutory provisions for inspection, regulation, treatment and protection of prostitutes from exploitation by police, pimps and procurers.

The argument further is that legalization would entail the recognition of prostitutes as commercial sex workers, thereby making them eligible for protection under certain labor laws. They will have full access to their earnings and would gain the right to form unions. The undefined status of sex workers under current laws leaves them open to exploitation of various sorts

At the moment prostitutes have no legal protection and are left to languish in pigeonholes, controlled and commanded by unscrupulous elements-lady lords, lumpen elements and law enforcement functionaries. Legislation, it is said, would help eliminate middlemen who are at the root of most of the evils in the prostitution business. This, the protagonists say, would greatly reduce the scandalous nature of the business and minimize the racketeering in the induction of minors into the hell of the flesh trade. The last and the most compelling argument concerns the human rights of sex workers. The right to work, the right to human dignity, the right to protection against exploitation and sexual slavery are the pivotal points to considering the problem of prostitution from a humanistic perspective.

On the other end of the spectrum there are hordes of arguments against the legalization proposition. Those who are clearly against it find legalization as a moral affront and sickening proposition to debase and downgrade the proverbial, respectful and reverent image of women in the country. The reference is made to culture and tradition of the country and to its old pro-women ethos, which describes women as deities, adorable and admirable for the humane qualities they possess in plenty. The socio-religious backdrop permits no room for vulgarization of women by allowing them to sell their sexual favors in an open flesh market. Those who loathe legalization vehemently deny that prostitution is the oldest profession. They say that treating prostitution, as a profession is the product of the sick minds of evil persons. Prostitution does not possess any of the recognized attributes of a profession, at least in India. If it does in the West, it is none of our concern because sexual revolution in the West does not denote progress, it only indicates a moral decay of the western world, where sex has become a commodity to be sold like cassettes of pleasure. Indian society, they say, cannot and should not treat commercial sex activity as respectable work much less a profession.

The legalization proposition, it is feared, will let loose forces of further exploitation of women for commercial sex purposes. It will legitimize abduction and immoral trafficking in women and girls, will help open flesh shops in every nook and corner of the city, may strengthen the stranglehold of organized sex criminality, and finally will lead to consolidating the criminal commercial forces which intend to treat women as saleable sex products. The human rights arguments, these people say, are phony since the State cannot allow women to degrade themselves. Legalization proposition would mean the acceptance of the worst form of commoditification and legitimization of human depravity and degradation. Finally, the argument is that legalization of prostitution would vitiate the moral atmosphere of the country and would lead to increased debauchery in society. The sum total of the argument is that legalization being a western idea is unfit for any consideration in Indian society. To combat prostitution and immoral trafficking in women and girls what is required is the strict enforcement of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act and sincere and vigorous efforts to rescue and rehabilitate those trapped in the trade. The iron hand of the law needs to be strengthened to bring to book all those who help perpetuate the obnoxious sex trade.

Decriminalization of prostitution stops its clandestine growth, saves prostitutes and their clients from penal consequences, makes the sexual relationship socially acceptable like any other commercial transaction, eliminates intermediaries, ensures safe sex and avoids unnecessary stigmatization of prostitutes, and their patrons. Such a liberal approach to prostitution has become possible in some western countries because society there has no moral hang-ups about the sexual behavior of consenting adults. The selling and buying of sexual favors is not considered a sin and such transactions invite no social disapproval. The sexually permissive societies in the west have matured to a level where prostitutes are considered as commercial sex workers and are entitled for necessary protection against their harassment and exploitation. The sex workers have the right to refuse their clients, for there are no madams to manipulate consent through coercion and other demanding and deceitful means.


Domestic Violence as a threat to Security
Shikha Tiwari

Violence does not refer to common household arguments or conflicts. There is a difference between a domestic argument and domestic violence. It is important to understand and recognise this difference. People can argue without one party having more power or control than the other. This can be a healthy way to resolve differences. It is natural for men and women to try to use whatever power and control they have to win an argument. However, because men are often physically stronger than women and because our society has a history of encouraging men to be aggressive and powerful - while at the same time encouraging women to be weak and submissive - it is not surprising that the balance of power usually tips in favour of men. If men choose to use this power in harmful ways, the result can change from some of the more subtle forms of domestic violence to severe injury or death.

The term domestic violence can be sometimes very confusing. The terms domestic violence, family violence, spouse abuse, wife abuse, wife assault, and woman battering, are all often used to mean the same thing. The term family violence includes all forms of violence within families: children being harmed by their parents or caregivers; children being harmed by older siblings or members of extended family networks; women being harmed by their partners, elder sons or daughters; men being harmed by women; and older family members being harmed by their offspring. In fact, it includes any type of violence occurring in any type of family.

The term 'domestic violence' is commonly used to describe the abuse women suffer at the hands of their male partners. Sometimes, however, the term domestic violence is also used to mean family violence. Because of this confusion, the terms 'spouse abuse' and 'wife assault' are used to define more clearly the exact nature of the violence.

"Domestic Violence" should be understood in a more broader context, as it refers to violence between men and women in both gay and heterosexual relationships. This is done to acknowledge the fact that domestic violence knows no boundaries and is therefore not specific to males who abuse females in heterosexual relationships. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, psychological, social or economic. Violence generally refers to behaviour which results in humiliation, damage or injury to another person and/or which results in someone living in fear of another person's behaviour. Blaming men or women for the position they are in does not help us understand domestic violence. It is a complex issue at both the individual and social/cultural levels.

Sadly, domestic violence is a hidden problem. It occurs in the privacy of home, and those involved are usually reluctant to talk about it. And it can take many forms. Physical abuse like hitting, punching, pulling hair, slapping, grabbing, bruising, twisting arms; sexual abuse is also one kind of domestic violence and this kind of violence mostly takes place in the safe structures of the home. Verbal abuse consists of derogatory comments, insults and constant put downs, lack of physical attractiveness, inferiority and likewise. There is another more severe kind of damage, which is of spiritual abuse. It describes the damage violence does to the spirit of those who have been abused. For some women this cannot be equated with psychological or emotional abuse. Spiritual violence is deeper than any of these kinds of violence and disappointingly they all happen in the safe confines of the home and family.


SOCIAL SECURITY
Shikha Tiwari
Personal security is central to every person's physical, intellectual, emotional, economic and spiritual sense of well being. Crime and the fear of crime are two critical factors that can greatly undermine a person's sense of security. Personal security issues are particularly important for women and girls. Women consistently report higher levels of fear of crime than do men. Almost half of all crime victims in the society are women, and women and girls are the victims in the vast majority of certain reported crimes, such as physical and sexual assault by someone known to the victim. Various studies have indicated that gender-based violence is the primary threat to women's personal security.

The root of the problem lies in attitudes, behaviours and social institutions that sustain unequal power relations between men and women, and render women and girls 'acceptable targets' for violence and abuse. Gender-based violence has consequences for individual women and girls, and for the communities in which they live. Exposure to violence or an experience of victimization may increase the risk to personal security. A young girl who runs away from an abusive family situation may face new risks such as substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, violence from strangers and pressures to engage in prostitution and adopt an antisocial or criminal lifestyle. A woman who leaves an abusive relationship may face financial insecurity that limits her ability to find safe housing. Research suggests that personal security issues may be at the root of problems such as engaging in violent behaviour as a defensive coping mechanism and using inappropriate coping skills (such as substance abuse) to mitigate the effects of violence.

The level of gender-based violence in communities also contributes to a sense of fear and danger. Women and girls may modify their activities to lessen their perceived risk - hampering their access to educational and employment opportunities, and reducing their freedom to participate as equal citizens in community life.

There can be many forms and imperatives for violence against women. Physical abuse alone can take so many forms including hitting, punching, pulling hair, slapping, grabbing, biting, bruising and so on - the list is endless. And as women victims of such abuses, we all know very well how much does these kind of incidents affect our mind and our sense of personal security. The injuries are not always obvious as abusers often make sure the signs of their attacks are hidden under clothing. For many women there are a real and constant threat of death because of the seriousness of the abuse, "Most attacks took place at night. While my three small children slept I would sit waiting for him to come home. It was like living with a time bomb. The waiting, the wondering, when would he be home, what sort of mood would he be in, would he eat his dinner or throw it at the wall or me, would the children wake scared and frightened, would he break up the furniture again." (Family Violence Professional Education taskforce, 1991, p. 62). And this seems to be daily routine for quite a number of women.

There is another aspect to this issue: "like delivering verbal abuse in front of other people, such as put down jokes, criticisms about women's weight, appearance, sexuality, intelligence etc. controlling behaviours such as following her to work, controlling access to friends and family, thus leading her to cut herself off because she fears enraging her husband, or parents. " Social abuse is the constant monitoring and control of a women's activities, outings and friendships. She maybe forced to account for every movement, and may be denied the right to leave home and / or see friends. Some family members would go out of the way to control the females in their homes, including locking them in the house, control the phone calls they receive and like wise" (Family Violence professional Education Taskforce, 1991, p 64). And all this is just one aspect of the kind of insecurity women have to deal with in daily lives.


A CASE FOR EQUALITY
Shikha Tiwari
This article will be concerned with social and political equality. In its perspective usage, 'equality' is a loaded and 'highly contested' concept. On account of its normally positive connotation, it has a rhetorical power rendering it correct as a political slogan. At least since the French Revolution, equality has served as one of the leading ideals of the body politic; in this respect it is at present probably the most controversial of the great social ideals. The terms "equality", "equal", "equally" signify a qualitative relationship. Equality signifies correspondence between a group of different objects, persons, processes or circumstances that have the same qualities in at least one respect, but not all respects, i.e. regarding one specific feature with differences in other features. Equality need to be distinguished from 'identity' - this concept signifying that one and the same object corresponds to itself in all its features: an object that can be referred to through various individual terms, names and descriptions. For the same reason it needs to be distinguished from 'similarity' - the concept of merely approximate correspondence. Thus to say that men are equal is not to say that men are identical.

In distinction to numerical identity, a judgment of equality presumes a difference between the things compared. According to this definition, the notion of 'complete' or 'absolute' equality is self-contradictory. Two non - identical objects are never completely equal; they are different at least in their spatiotemporal location. If things do not differ they should not be called 'equal' but rather, more precisely, 'identical' as e.g., the morning star and the evening star. Equality and equal are incomplete predicates that necessarily generate one question: equality in what respect? Equality denotes the relation between the objects that are compared. Every comparison presumes a concrete attribute defining the respect in which the equality applies - equality thus referring to a common sharing of this comparison - determining attribute. There is another source of diversity as well various different standards might be used to measure inequality with respect in which are compared remaining constant.

For this reason it helps to think of the idea of equality or for that matter inequality, understood as an issue of social justice, not as a single principle, but as a complex group of principles. Depends upon which procedural principle one adopts, contrary answers are forthcoming. Both equality and inequality are multifaceted concepts. In any real historical context it is clear that no single notion of equality can sweep the field. Many theorists concede that much of these discussions of any concept are vague and theoretical. But they do agree that there is also a common underlying strain of important moral concerns implicit in it. Above all it serves us to remind us of our common humanity, despite various differences. Equality in its perspective usage has of course a close connection with morality and justice in general and distributive justice in particular.

The predicates ' just' and 'unjust' are only applicable when voluntary actions implying responsibility are in question. Justice is hence primarily related to individual actionsIndividual persons are the primary bearer of responsibilities. Individuals have to take responsibility for their actions and for the circumstances they could change through such actions and omissions. The responsibility people have to treat individuals and groups they affect in a morally appropriate and in particular, evenhanded way has hence a certain priority over their moral duty to turn circumstances into just ones through some kind of equalization. Establishing justice of circumstances is beyond any given individual's capacities. Hence one has to rely on collective actions. In order to meet this moral duty, a basic order guaranteeing just circumstances must be justly created. This is an essential argument of justice in favour of establishing social institutions and fundamental state structures for political communities; responsibility in the best possible manner. This structure further leads to equal respect and equal worth to all human beings. Any modern structure abandoning this structure will not exist for long. It appears impossible to peacefully reach a general agreement on common political aims or for the common good of society, without accepting all men and women as equals.



THE LIBERAL SELF
Shikha Tiwari
The constitution provides us with some fundamental rights like freedom and equality to provide us with legal and fundamental protection. But it only means legal protection. Even after 50 years of independence these fundamental rights have not attained a humane and social manifestation. These rights fail to protect a human being and especially women from injustice at home. It seems when these rights were instituted women were not supposed to have the same rights as men.

The situation is not very different in today's world as well. Because even after having these rights for long women still hold a secondary position in the social structure of today's society. Although Rousseau (1973 [1762]) seemed to advocate a positive conception of liberty, according to which one was free when one acted according to one's true will (the general will), the positive conception was best developed by the British neo-Hegelians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as Thomas Green and Bernard Bosanquet (1923). Green acknowledged that 'It must be of course admitted that every usage of the term [i.e., freedom] to express anything but a social and political relation of one man to other involves a metaphor...It always implies...some exemption from compulsion by another.

For Green, a person is free only if she is self-directed or autonomous. Running throughout liberal political theory is an ideal of a free person as one whose actions are in some sense her own. Such a person is not subject to compulsions, critically reflects on her ideals and does not unreflectively follow custom and does not ignore her long-term interests for short-term pleasures. But this kind of individualism does not exist in today's modern society. We have failed to understand that it is only when every human being in the society exercises her/his individualism to the fullest can a society progress in its holistic terms.

Individuality is the same thing with development, and...it is only the cultivation of individuality which produces, or can produce, well-developed human beings...what more can be said of any condition of human affairs, than that it brings human beings themselves nearer to the best thing they can be? or what worse can be said of any obstruction to good, than that it prevents this? This is not just a theory about politics: it is a substantive, perfectionist, moral theory about the good. And, on this view, the right thing to do is to promote development, and only a regime securing each individual's extensive liberty can accomplish this.

This moral ideal of human perfection and development dominated liberal thinking in the latter part of the nineteenth, and for most of the twentieth, century: not only Mill, but T.H. Green, L.T. Hobhouse, Bernard Bosanquet, John Dewey and even John Rawls show allegiance to variants of this perfectionist ethic and the claim that it provides the foundation for a regime of liberal rights. (Gaus, 1983a). And it is fundamental to the proponents of liberal autonomy discussed above as well as 'liberal virtue' theorists such as William Galston (1980). That the good life is necessarily a freely chosen one in which a person develops his unique capacities as part of a plan of life is probably the dominant liberal ethic of the past century.

Turning from rightness to goodness, we can identify three main candidates for a liberal theory of value. Insofar as perfectionism is a theory of right action --- that rightness consists of promoting what Mill called 'utility in the largest sense', i.e., human development (1991 [1859]: 15) --- it can be understood as an account of morality. Obviously, however, it is an account of rightness that presupposes a theory of value or the good: the ultimate human value is developed personalities or an autonomous life. Competing with this objectivist theory of value are two other liberal accounts: pluralism and subjectivism.


THE SELF
Shikha Tiwari
The topic of the self has long been salient in feminist philosophy, for it is pivotal to questions about personhood, identity, the body, and the agency that feminism must address. In some respects Simon de Beauvoir's trenchant observations, " He is the subject, he is the Absolute - she is the other," sums up why the self is such an important issue for us. To be the other is to be the non-subject, the non-person, the non-agent - in short, a mere body. In fact there was certainly this belief at some point of history that God created Adam first and then from him came the Eve. One can accept that only if one begins to understand that god did create man in the first place. In cultural stereotypes, women's selfhood has been systematically subordinated, diminished and belittled when it has not been outrightly denied. Since women have been cast as lesser forms of the masculine individual, the paradigm of the self that has gained ascendancy is derived from the advantaged men who have wielded social, economic, and political power and who have dominated the arts, literature, the media, and scholarship.

This socio - cultural view of womanhood is fundamentally misleading. Many feminists take up the question that who provides the paradigm for these conceptions as their point of departure. It has always been the MAN. He is pictured in two major roles - as an impartial judge or legislator reflecting on principles and deliberating about policies and as a self-interested bargainer and contractor wheeling and dealing in the marketplace. But, it is no accident that politics and commerce are both domains from which women have historically been excluded. It is no accident either that the philosophers who originated these views of the self so typically endorsed this exclusion. Deeming women emotional and unprincipled, these thinkers advocated confining women into virtues, in the role of submissive wife, obedient daughter and nurturing mother.

Feminist critics point out that this misogynist heritage cannot be remedied simply by condemning these traditional constraints and advocating equal rights for women, for these conceptions of the self are themselves gendered. In our culture, mind and reason are coded masculine, whereas the body and emotion are coded feminine. To identify the self with the rational mind is then, to masculinize the self. If selfhood is not impossible for women, it is only because they resemble men in certain essential respects - they are not altogether devoid of rational will. Yet it is understood that feminine selves are necessarily deficient, for they only mimic and approximate the masculine ideal. Problematic as well is the way in which these gendered conceptions of the self contribute to the valorization of the masculine and the stigmatization of the feminine. The masculine realm of the rational selfhood is a realm of moral decency - principled respect for others and conscientious fidelity to duty - and of prudent good sense - adherence to shrewd, fulfilling, long range life plans. However femininity is associated with emotionally rooted concern for family and friends that spawns favoritism and compromises principles. Likewise, femininity is associated with immersion in unpredictable domestic exigencies that forever jeopardize the best-laid plans and often necessitate resorting to hasty retreats or charting new directions. By comparison, the masculinized self appears to be a sturdy fortress of integrity. The self is essentially masculine, and the masculine self is essentially good and wise. Women are consigned to selflessness - that is, to invisibility, subservient passivity, and self-sacrificial altruism.

The nullification of women's selfhood has been the case ever since men and women existed on earth. Though we have come far ahead from this scene of the history but we women still struggle for our own identity, for our own voice in the family, in the society, in our workplaces. This is an overview of the problem we face in asserting our individuality. What could be worse to have to fight to assert that "I exist not as a body but as being with an independent consciousness"? Unfortunately we are living in this scenario only. How to tackle a situation like this is a problem, which we independent women are still fighting for. To solve a problem it is important to identify the problem and understand its imperatives. The differences, which exist in this society, are MAN made. When I say MAN I explicitly mean the masculine gender. It is to their benefit to call us the "other". And sadly the docile women were made to accept this disparity. But today it is high time we need to question this MAN made differences.


REJUVENATING SPIRITS TO FLY
Shikha Tiwari
Has it not become trendy to be talking about women's issues? And that's the reason, which inspires me to write about it, to present my point of view, which is open for any kind of criticism. I would like to start on a note, which though being in discussion down the ages is now a stark truth but still often discussed: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Believe it or not but to put it in a colloquial tone they are actually made up all together of different stuff. For that matter we are all very different from one another. No two people are the same. But women classify men as one breed and men classify women as another. It is not just an issue of differentiation and classification - but it is a socio - cultural construct. But more often than not, the essence, the individuality of a woman is at stake in this construct.

Investigations of reason and objectivity are crucial for feminist philosophy. Feminists contest powers that gender distributes asymmetrically between men and women, men otherwise privileged and other men, and some women and other women. Among those powers are powers to name and describe things, to find and attest fact, to be an arbiter of interpretation, to speak for oneself, in public, or with authority, to speak credibly of various things in different places, or to speak at all. These are matters not only of knowing but also of being able to claim that one does. Such powers have a peculiar role among those (economic, sexual, domestic, legal, political, cultural, and others) distributed by gender in the context of other differences. They can determine whether any differences or asymmetries of power-including the power to know and to claim to know-will be identified as such. And they determine from whose viewpoint, and at whose insistence or permission, they can be so identified.

Is this not strange, that a woman who is just another human being has to struggle or fight for issues like speaking her heart out, to be treated like any other member of the family and likewise. Fighting for these rights began long ago almost a century ago or it has existed since ages but has now assumed a pronounced dimension. The concept of International Women's Day is just one manifestation of it. This day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for "liberty, equality, fraternity" marched to Versailles to demand women's suffrage. The idea of an International Women's Day first arose at the turn of the century, which in the industrialized world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideologies.

But even after this century long struggle we all know how far we have actually reached. It is not that we have not moved ahead but there is still that extra mile to cover. And we all know what it takes to reach that point. But what is most important for any kind of success is to have the right kind of attitude. Believe me, much of the strength comes from the mind. Before one actually starts doing something one has to think that one actually do it.

If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don't
If you like to win, but you think you can't
It's almost certain you won't
Life's battles don't always go,
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins,
Is the one WHO thinks I CAN!

I would like to refer to the most mind blowing and helpful book I have ever read: Seven habits of Effective People by Stephen Covey. The first lesson "Be Proactive" comes as a tornado and hits you hard. Its goes on to suggest that we have to take a responsibility of whatever is happening with us. Easy enough a statement to make but is hell of a job to let it sink deep. This seems to be a milder version of it: If we try and contextualise it in the situation of women it is horrifying - whatever is happening with us it is because of us. All of us have to realise that the first thing we can do to stop this violence, crime and injustice against women is to raise a voice. Mind you, if one is simply raising a voice, the effort would turn fruitless if there is no attempt to change it internally. Nobody is that brave to take all responsibility or blame on one's shoulders and thus tend to forget an issue as important as one's life.

In the rush of everyday life, the entire meaning of life has been reduced to just the "physical" aspect of it. For a number of us life is at stake when we are just about to shake hands with death. What I am trying to put forward is that all this is a state of mind; the state which we most often neglect. Before the whole concept of women's liberation can prove effective on the road, at seminars, conferences and parliament, it has to champion itself in each of our minds. The entire revolution has to take place in our minds first. We just need to charge those wings in our mind to feel free and fly before we can actually fly.

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