On Women’s Equality Day, We Celebrate Women Changemakers In India
By: Shrishaila, Diamond
Published On: August 26, 2021
August 26th is celebrated as World Women’s Equality Day around the world. The day marks another opportunity to acknowledge women around us who made an impact and how! When both men and women are given equal opportunities at a personal, professional and social level, they get access to an environment that is built to uplift rather than profit off of each other. In the past decade, India has seen a refreshing change in conversations surrounding women’s equality and empowerment - not just in privileged spaces but also introduced to the masses through popular culture and social media. On World Women’s Equality Day we look at women whose stories inspired us, whose actions broke the chains on our thoughts - that we didn’t even know existed.
Empowering Women and Communities Through Change
That women are capable of achieving incredible things isn’t new or particularly surprising - but that they can achieve these things in the face of patriarchy, oppression and inequality is what stands as a testament to their undying spirit and determination. One example of female leadership is evident in the proud launch of Chandrayaan-2 in 2019. Muthayya Vanitha from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh and Ritu Karidhal from Lucknow Uttar Pradesh spearheaded the launch, letting the world know about the Indian Space Research Organisation’s feat. Vanitha had worked in research for 32 years and Ritu for 22 years before the launch of Chandrayaan-2. It was their continued efforts and perseverance that were crucial in making the launch possible.
This goes to show that access to vital institutions is everything. Although the right to education is a prerequisite to this kind of access, it cannot, by itself, do much. This right needs to be implemented in a way where equal opportunities for research and knowledge and basic financial support for education is accessible. According to a report in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, most women in India are deprived of equal social opportunities be it in education or employment. This emphasises on the need for collective action as a society to work towards eradicating glass ceilings.
Another celebrated personality that comes to mind when we talk about women who empower, is Saikhom Mirabai Chanu. On 24 July, she became the first Indian player to win a medal for weightlifting at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. While we take the time to celebrate her victory, we must also acknowledge the labor that preceded the same. For years, Mirabai hitchhiked rides to the stadium for practice. She took help from truck drivers in her vicinity to ride 25 kilometres into Imphal as the stadium was located away from her hometown. Mirabai chose to pursue her passion despite the financial crunch or the lack of appropriate infrastructure for training. This goes on to show just how necessary the presence of infrastructures and opportunities are for women in sports.
Instagram: Mirabai Chanu
Sporting activities must be introduced as well as encouraged for girls at the school-level. According to a report, female participation in sports is lower in rural areas as compared to urban areas. However, the former has seen a rise due to policy changes since the early 2000s.
Developments caused by policy changes
The most notable developments that have been observed by experts are at the village council levels. According to a study, there are 20,56,882 Gaon panchayat members out of which 40.48% are women. This is because of the Indian government’s efforts to delegate leadership roles to women.
With all these incredible women, the two things common are the will to change and a support system. These women went against all odds to win medals and to mark their names in history. For gender equality, women empowerment is the first step, and some changes that can be made towards this are-
Instilling women empowerment in the education system by the central/state government.
Establishing equal opportunities at the workplace at the village and city levels.
Increasing punishment for exploitation of women in the judiciary system.
Allowing and improving the right to education and choice of activities for women in rural areas.
With the advent of technology and the internet, bridging the financial gap and infrastructure is now easier. One way to do so is crowdfunding a social, educational or personal cause. Women need not wait for policy changes that might take years to be implemented, they can take matters into their own hands and start a fundraiser.
One step at a time
ImpactGuru’s fundraisers have helped many similar women in the past. For instance, Sunita Krishnan led Prajwala to bring 24,000 women and girls out of slavery. As a platform, ImpactGuru believes in providing the right pedestal and assistance to women who believe in changing the world for the better.
Fundraising is a way to bridge the gap between gender equality and women empowerment. The latter is directly proportional to the former. The more the efforts on strengthening women in the country, the closer we are to progress. ImpactGuru is doing its bit by providing a free platform to women.
The combined efforts of campaigners and donors are exactly what is needed to work towards women’s equality. And what better way to mark World Women’s Equality Day than starting a fundraiser that is aimed at aiding and uplifting women.