The place is Kundli, a small industrial area at the Delhi-Haryana border. While cycling to the shoe-making industry just the 2 km away from the chaul she lived in, Hasina remembered that her daughter Noor had asked for the crayons while coming back from work. The school her daughter went to was the same that every child in her chaul went to. It’s wonderful how time had changed. Some years back her family along with the most in the locality had so less of the purchasing power, that even providing proper education for their children wasn’t possible. It was only after the industries started setting up in the Tier-2/3 cities that men from the nearby locality started to get skilled and earn their living by getting the job. But was it enough? Was only a working male enough for the family?
Apparently, the initial NO’s equivocally by all the men in the locality had started to turn into affirmations after the one women-Hasina, fought her husband to join as a worker in the shoe-making industry. It was when her daughter Noor had started to go to school that people realized that women empowerment was real, that a women could equally be useful in improving the living condition of the family.
Development needs to be engendered, because if it’s not, it endangers. What exactly is the development that we are talking about here? Growth and Development, while being assumed as synonyms, have a difference. Development can be as small as building a toilet in the home where people have to go out to defecate, to as big as being the CEO of a start-up which adds to GDP of the country, along with increasing job opportunities for the people. Development can be a change at social level, at the economic level, the political level, and can even influence the environmental development and preservation.
But the thing is, in a patriarchal society of ours, it is a preconceived notion that while the building of toilets has always been a MAN’S job, being built only when the male member felt so, the neo-liberal-capitalistic society also presumes women to maybe just be an employee in the start-up, surely not the CEO herself!
Examples from the everyday society are the testimony to the fact that when a women takes over or voices her opinion, changes, changes that are for the good take place. An interesting piece that covered the print and electronic media in the recent time was a married women who disagreed to come back to his husband’s house because he wasn’t getting the toilet built. It was only after the husband built the toilet under Swacch Bharat Abhiyan that his wife came back to him. This small incident went viral and many such instances influenced by this came into being.
ASHA workers and Anganwadis in the villages have been the single most influential step in making women realize their potential, that has been a major factor in influencing women to not merely be a child-producing machine. A study on Effectiveness of “ASHA INCENTIVE” on enhancing the functioning of ASHA in motivating couples having two or less children to undergo permanent sterilization shows contribution of ASHAs towards achievements in female sterilization shows that maximum motivation was done by ASHAs. Similarly, Anganwadi workers have played a very important in providing antenatal health facilities. In addition to this they provide post-natal care to nursing mothers. All this has had its impact in even small and underdeveloped states like Jharkhand, where IMR was the least among all the states in the country.
This engendered development was not a phenomenon back when we were fighting our war of independence. Post Independence or rather Post cold war where countries were coming together, the feminist movement around the world was on a rise. The nexus of women and (economic) development was only started after Women in Development movements gained momentum. The idea was women’s disadvantages in society may be eliminated by breaking down customary expectations of women by offering better education to women and introducing equal opportunity programmes. Thanks to these feminist movements, gender equality has been a thing in our society. Women continue to realize their potential and are becoming lawyers and doctors contributing their bit in development.
Gender equality has had its influence on environment too. It was only when the Chipko movement in Gharwal started that prevented the large amount of deforestation while the women hugged the tree and tied rakhi around them. Women have played equal roles as in accordance with men in the tribal societies. They have played major role in conservation using sacred groves. The Donariya tribe of Orissa who fought against the corporates for their forest rights. Not only within our country, but internationally too in the countries like Ghana, women have started what is called the Ghana Bamboo bikes which provides incentives to women who want to build and use high-quality bamboo bikes, minimizing their carbon footprint.
Political development in past was more or less confined to the male members of the society. Right from the Vedic times where sabhas and samitis had forbidden involvement of women in the gatherings, their role played in the higher machinery was limited. Even in the medieval times, apart from Raziya being a sultan right after Iltutmish before being thrown off from the crown just because she was a women in front of who nobels refused to keep their heads down, we find barely other examples.
But it was only with the involvement of women in the French Revolution that equality found its true meaning. It was only their involvement in the American Revolution that the war for freedom became strong. In the Indian war of Independence, the role played by Annie Besant, Sarojini Naidu and likes cannot be ignored. Thanks to the role played by the women from the society who were hitherto confined to the four walls of house, that the Dandi March against salt tax and Non-cooperation movement came so strong. Clearly, a major political development with including 33%-50% reserved seats for women in local bodies wouldn’t be possible if the clamor of women wasn’t heard.
We saw how social, economic, environmental and political development has been influenced and nurtured in the past by an active gender equality through the changing and evolving history. But their are still certain problems associated which becomes a hindrance in realizing the full potential of this “engenderment”. Women continue to be repressed and objectified in the social order. Patriarchy, although lessened, is still prevalent. The age old concept of women not being physically compatible to men is a lie that has been repeated since centuries to become a truth – atleast in the minds of the people who still consider women inferior. Women have lost jobs. Politically, women are becoming nothing more than mere tokens/proxies who fight elections on behalf of their influential male counter part.
Things need to change. Women In Development(WID) movements all around the world is an evergrowing. Women are becoming aware like never before. Reports have shown that 50% involvement of women in economy is a necessity is economic development has to flourish more. Women like Angela Merkel are becoming Times Person of the Year. All this shows that the world is changing. The change is happening for good.
If development is not engendered, it may endanger, because when a women gets involved, it makes sure a toilet is built and the whole family is prevented from the disease that open defecation may cause. Development needs to be engendered, because if it wasn’t for both the genders coming forward, we wouldn’t have the Forest rights Act in this country. Development needs to be engendered, because it is only a women who can make sure a women gets involved in family planning. Women like Hasina is what we call real engendered development. While coming back from work, Hasina bought the crayons Noor had asked for, who was waiting for her mother with glittering eyes. This glitter is a hope for a good future to be.