As the curtain falls on 2019 and we look back at the year gone by, there are many reasons to celebrate women and their achievements across different fields. But along with the hits came the misses – women still face challenges that impede their growth and development.
Women still face patriarchy, bias and injustice. There were incidents like the burning, and death of the Unnao rape victim and the brutal gangrape and murder of the Hyderabad veterinary doctor that shook us to the core.
It made us question, and rather harshly, ‘is India really a country for women?’
Safety remains the top concern and priority for women in India.
This lack of safety alienates, puts pressure and impacts women’s contribution to the workplace and the economy.
We simply wish things would have worked out better for women this year. And that’s why we present to you headlines that if they had happened would have changed things for women.
We can only hope for a “safer” future as women march forward.
Exclusive sports academies for women across 10 states to nurture talent
Given the performance of women in sports despite lack of resources and infrastructure, we would have liked to see more encouragement and better infrastructure for women in sports.
Dutee Chand, Mary Kom, Hima Das and so many sports persons did the country proud this year and became role models. Given the consistently good performance by Indian sports women it is time to nurture young girls and their sporting skills and talents.
From asking girls to not take up sports because no one will marry them or they will become tanned, it is time to encourage girls to pursue their passion for sports.
Exclusive academies for girls across multiple states would help do just that, and give women access to training grounds, coaches and other infrastructural support that girls are often deprived of.
Every state gets more fast track courts for swift trials; harsher punishment for rapists
According to government data, almost 90 rapes happen in India every day and most of the time, the culprits are known to the victims. According to the shocking statistics, India still remains a vulnerable country for women.
Though there are fast track courts in place, we need them to swiftly resolve cases and award harsh punishment to the guilty.
The lack of swift judgement in such matters has led to women’s faith in judiciary decrease. No wonder then that a recent encounter of rape accused without trial is being hailed as a victory by a large number of people in India.
Police shows sensitivity in dealing with victims of abuse and assault
Given the lack of sensitivity by the police force, women often don’t report incidences of rape, assault and abuse. It’s time that the police force is offered mandatory training on how to approach and handle such cases.
In the recent Hyderabad rape, the police wasted precious hours by assuming that the vet hadn’t returned home because she may have run away with someone. Training to respond swiftly in such situations will help not just the victims but also, in some cases, save them from death.
Gender sensitisation course to be made mandatory across schools in India
Patriarchy and lack of gender sensitisation are the primary causes of crimes against women and why Indian women don’t feel safe. If gender sensitisation is taught as part of the school curriculum, this would be a big step towards reducing the level of crime in the country. .
10 top corporates showed us diversity and inclusion is about walking the talk
Gathering women in a room and talking about their challenges at the workplace is not the right and only way to promote diversity and inclusion. Hiring women just to ensure there is some female representation does not make the cut for gender diversity either.
Corporates need to walk the talk when it comes to diversity and inclusion - don’t just hire because you need a certain number of women. Create an environment where women can actually thrive and grow, where managers are invested in their growth and the management ensures women do not face gender bias.
These corporates lead the way in bringing women on a break, back to work
While returnship programmes in corporate organisations should be lauded, it would make more sense if leaders would address the unconscious bias of hiring managers who do not prefer to hire women after they have taken a break. Women take a break for a variety of reasons – to have a child, look after the elderly, and others.
They should be supported if they want to rejoin the workforce through upskilling and specific training programmes.
Sanitary pad units to be set up at gram panchayat level
With thousands of women in rural areas using cloth instead of sanitary pads, there is a definite need to set up low-cost sanitary pad manufacturing units led by women. These can be done at the gram panchayat level with the help of government organisations and non-profits.
These units can also spread awareness about menstrual health and hygiene.
Action taken against social media trolls threatening rape and abuse
Social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others have given rise to an unending stream of abuse and trolling of women online. Social media platforms must act on complaints and block/suspend such accounts immediately, especially if they pertain to rape and sexual abuse threats. They must also work in close association with the cyber crime department and the police to ensure safety of women online.
ICC at the workplace to be taken seriously
Women's safety at the workplace needs to improve drastically. While companies over 10 employees may have an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in place, they should be monitored to see whether regular meetings on sexual harassment take place. This lax attitude towards the POSH act should be discouraged and companies that do not have a proper redressal system in place should be fined.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)
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