Read the following blog written by our new team member, Sanjucta Sarkar, on her first day at work. She comes fresh out of a transformative journey with Gandhi Fellowship to work on gender peace. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or us at email@example.com
‘Empowerment’ is the word; I got as solution for almost every Gender issue I have encountered till date. I have seen empowered women, I have seen women are working hard to empower other women, still I have found that the status of women in the society and perception of the society towards them are still the same (a little modified with new vocabulary).
I could not balance this thought of ‘empowering women’ with the current scenario of the society. I am not dismissing this idea; I am not denying the power of women empowerment, I just want to say we are missing a link. Perhaps we are not missing it but overlooking a fact-Mindset.
Have we ever thought of what we call empowerment actually comes from the mindset? Education, environment, economy just strengthen it. When we talk about empowerment, we emphasize on understanding the importance of being self sufficient, economically independent and all these happen to a woman when her mindset finally shifts from her conventional injected core values. So, we are anyway working on the mindsets may be in different ways. But here I feel that our prime focus should be the mindset. If it changes a life positively, we must not forget it is the same source from where the discrimination comes.
I have seen/read many educated women were burnt in the fire of dowry; I also know many women who are highly qualified but have paid dowry; I have seen women who are economically independent were beaten up by their husband but never confronted the situation out of the fear of getting divorced. Here what lacks is not empowerment, but mindset. I call it the flaw in the mindset. Sometime I wonder if it is the situation of the empowered women, then how those women who chose not to work or somehow could not manage to finish their education or secure any job lead their life! The answer I always get here is ‘luck’. They surrender their future on their fate. If their luck gets them good grooms well and good or else their fate shows no different results from those empowered women. Surprisingly, I have seen that irrespective of empowered women and underpowered women all pray to their fate to get them good grooms. That means they always have the fear of death, violence, divorce and empowerment fails to give them the peace of mind or security of life.
Culture and mindset- these two are very reciprocal. They build each other. They lead the environment and the behavior of a society. So when we are trying hard to change the mindset of a woman by empowering her, we are overlooking the patriarchal society’s mindset. For this I consider women empowerment as a sub sector, because it is not catering anything in a fair way. What about the woman who does not love to work or the girl who is not that ambitious or the girl who is economically backward? In other words what would be those women’s fate who chose not to be empowered? What do we have to respect their choice of life?
Have we ever thought that we talk about empowerment out of fear that in future we might face any kind of violence which can shatter us? I solely believe that empowerment is a great and very powerful idea. But are we truly serving the purpose? Actually we live in a fearful environment and that’s why we are almost imposing this very idea on the women of our society. The mishaps of our society are not the result of our judicial failure; we are equally responsible for it. If we would work on our own mentality, on the mindset of our society, the gender issues would be addressed with a positive approach. We must learn how to look at those issues, how to address those issues. For this we must work collaboratively which is possible only if our mindset shifts from its place of conventional injected core values. Only then all women will be empowered no matter whether they aim for a job or prefer to stay at home. Empowerment would not be confined in a stereotypical structure of environment, education, economy then. It would not be an imposed idea to get rid of an unseen fearful or traumatized life. The day a woman would make a decision not out of any compulsion, a woman would live her life without making a small compromise and the society would help her doing so, would be day when our society is truly empowered. For this we, irrespective of men and women must do better as mindset setter.