Staff Reporter

MADURAI: Women should become politically active and empower themselves through various employment avenues to ensure economic freedom and also fight for their ‘right to property,’ said K. M. Ramathal, Chairperson, Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women.

Delivering the inaugural address at a seminar on ‘Human rights: a move towards societal equity,’ at Fatima College here on Thursday, she said that basic human right denial was happening on a daily basis at several levels of the society, especially among the vulnerable lot who included women, Dalits and the minorities.

Hailing EVR Periyar as the ‘quintessential modernist,’ she said that whatever women achieved in this part of the world, it was because of him. Ms. Ramathal said that Periyar argued in as early as in the 1930s that men could take up ‘child rearing’ as well and it was not anymore the job of women.

By making parenthood rather than motherhood the decisive factor in nurturing lives, Periyar liberated women and thus granted the female a will and subjectivity. Periyar also strongly believed in the idea that ‘samadharma’ (egalitarianism) was the basic variable in the model of human society, said Ms. Ramathal.

Periyar believed that a civilised society was one that rested upon the ideals of self-respect, knowledge and discipline, and the condition of women in every society was the indicator of progress and development.

Periyar’s contribution to empowerment of women was essential and one could not bypass him and write a history of women or women’s movement in India.

She stated that the patriarchal society had constructed a dominant notion that women were always inferior to men through various overt and subtle forms of expression both in the media and through other systems of knowledge which needed to be exposed and opposed.

B. S. Ponmudi Raj, Assistant Advisor, National Accreditation and Assessment Council, also spoke.