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As it happened: Chat with Kalpana Sharma, Subhalakshmi Nandi

Join our live chat with Subhalakshmi Nandi, head of the Women's Economic Empowerment unit at UN Women and Kalpana Sharma. Tweet with #THCitizenConnect and post your questions and views.

11:54

Comment From Pankaj Tyagi

On this day, women from all levels of society should take pledge that "they will going to raise voice against anything wrong happen with their dignity and womanhood (triviality of the incident must be immaterial)".......... GIRLS BREAK YOUR SILENCE and BOYS GIVE EQUAL RESPECT TO WOMEN

12:02

The Hindu: We have with us Kalpana Sharma, columnist and former deputy editor at The Hindu. Her areas of interest include development and gender issues.

12:03

Kalpana Sharma: Hello. It is good to have the conversation on International Women's Day but we should be having it all the time.

12:05

The Hindu: On Women's Day today, we have a lot of men asking why we do not have a Men's Day! Your response?

12:08

We have with us Subhalakshmi Nandi, who heads the Women's Economic Empowerment unit at UN Women. The unit provides provide technical assistance in developing programmes aimed at economic empowerment of women.

12:08

The Hindu: Welcome Subhalakshmi!

12:08

Kalpana Sharma: Well, you know every day is Men's Day in India, given that men are the majority! But seriously, the idea of women's day was to remind us about how much more needs to be done for women around the world to make them equal citizens.

12:11

Subhalakshmi: Hello, everyone... I suppose as long as we will have only 11% women in Parliament, and only 9% of women owning property and one in three women facing some form of violence in her life, we will need to keep having a Women's Day.

12:11

Subhalakshmi: Don't you think so? Not unless we have a level playing field can we start talking about a Men's Day...

12:12

Comment From Rukhi Sukhi

This country can never protect women. Women from higher caste feel disgusted when some things happens to their lot, but are perfectly ok when women from lower caste are ill treated. Women from lower caste feel bad when their lot is suffering at the hands of higher caste, but feel ok when their men ill treat christian women. All these women are perfectly ok when muslim women are ill treated, which they think they had it coming. When women cannot respect each other, then men who are generally dogs do not care. At the end all women suffer.

12:13

Comment From D

Just a thought - Would it be a good idea to give men paternity holiday like women have maternity holiday. That way fathers would take part in bringing up children and would give working women time to blend back easily into their jobs after their breaks. They would really share bringing up children right from the start. It is so in Europe!! We should not wait another 100 years to bring about this!

12:14

Kalpana Sharma: I agree with some of what you say. We tend to respond only when it is "People Like Us" who are affected. The entire debate around rape and December 16 centres around one rape but we forget the rapes that take place elsewhere, as devastating as the one in Delhi, but we in media don't report and our policymakers don't really care.

12:15

Comment From Vini

Government should at least get the easy things done like getting rid of patriarchy from government forms

Subhalakshmi:

Rukhi Sukhi, glad that you are highlighting the complex nature of POWER. Between men and women, but also between different categories and classes of women.

12:16

The Hindu: A question from Bageshree S, from the Bengaluru bureau: How do you view social media as a tool for empowerment? An increasing number of women are using social media as a space for articulating cases of street harassment, discrimination and so on. Bangalore has seen at least five such cases in the last year that caught public attention and forced the police to take notice and act. The flipside is that it is, by definition. restricted to the urban middle class.

12:16

Kalpana Sharma: I think paternity leave works when men accept that they have an equal share of responsibility in the home. We are a long way from that in India. You don't need to take leave to invest in your children and share the burden at home.

12:17

Comment From Guest

Kalpna and Subhalakshmi, violence against women is practiced at all levels of society and while the fight against that continues, can you tell us some examples of women's empowerment in India? What in your view, are some of the systemic changes that have taken place in India on this front?

12:18

Subhalakshmi: And getting rid of patriarchy is easier said than done... There is POWER and there are PRIVILEGES - for both men and women. Once we begin seeing that we are all a player in this system, I suppose the change starts from there.

12:18

Comment From Raj Kesav

Hello. If there ever is a Men's day it should be used to remind men that they actually make up less then half of humanity - that their world cannot be the one around which a women's revolves. It should be used to encourage men to 'bell' the cat of medieval patriarchy.

12:18

Kalpana Sharma: Bageshree S, I do think social media has been empowering, even if it is restricted to women with smart phones and therefore of a certain class. But every woman who reports gives confidence to others to do the same. And my sense is that more women are standing up to violence and harassment.

12:18

Kalpana Sharma: Well said, Raj Kesav.

12:19

Subhalakshmi:

Completely agree with you Raj Kesav. For too long women have fought their fight alone

12:19

Subhalakshmi: That men have not only a role, but indeed a responsibility to challenge power relations really cannot be over-stated.

12:19

Comment From Sid

Indian society needs Gender Sensitization starting from elementary level. It’s time we acknowledge the problem of patriarchal mindset which exists in our society and is the biggest reason for crimes against women. It's imp to understand that rapes, especially gang rapes happen not for sexual gratification but because these people believe that women do not have ‘right to consent’. These men grow in a social conditioning that regards women inferior, so what we need is gender sensitization right from primary school.

12:20

Subhalakshmi: UN Women globally has launched a #HeforShe campaign to emphasize just that. You might wish to sign up!

12:20

Comment From Anuj Sharma

Men should also grow up in an unbiased society, only then will realsize that women are equal.

12:21

Comment From Raji

How to change the mindset of men? It's the duty of every mother to sensitize her sons, but does it always work?

12:21

Subhalakshmi: Sid, Anuj - totally appreciate your comments

12:21

Subhalakshmi: from the time girls and boys are born, they get messages and signals about what it is to be a boy and a girl.

12:21

The Hindu: Raji: Doesn't it become the duty of fathers too?

12:22

Subhalakshmi: This is really what teaches behaviours and roles. And yes, Raji, it is the duty of fathers and mothers to challenges these stereotypes. But also of educators, media, religious leaders, politicians.

12:23

Comment From pankaj tyagi

@ Kalpana Sharma mam, i dissent from your point that "media don't report and our policy makers don't really care". Its the media which are highlighting so many cases from all parts of the country even without looking towards the genuineness of the case. Our policymakers care about such situations that's why they amended the law like inclusion of S-354A,354-B, 354-C IPC,1860 in 2013. They are also coming with different measures to give equal opportunities and protection to women

12:23

Subhalakshmi: It's everybody's duty to challenge these stereoypes. The next time our daughters get Barbie dolls for their birthdays, and our sons get guns as gifts, would be a good time to have this conversation with friends.

12:23

Comment From Sam

There we have people who have blown all this completely out of proportions like call Delhi the rape capital of the world and what not. The rape is a problem the whole world is facing and we here are hell bent on proving to the world that we are the forerunners in this area.

12:23

Comment From Amit Sharma

I wonder amongst those women empowerment protagonists, how many belong to the upper caste/class. Because man or woman, they all like to dominate and exploit the underprivileged.

12:24

Comment From Guest

International Womens day celeberations is under way in all parts of the world but what happened in Nagaland is highly condemn able and what Court was not able to is the Crowd has done it

12:24

Comment From NIRAJ SINGH

we only need provide educational help from primary education level to all who are somewhere lacked in society...all things will automatically improve.

12:24

Comment From Guest

I have a curious question in mind. Off late, we talk a lot about women/gender equality or empowerment. Sometimes, I feel that behind that, class distinctions or caste distinctions have been forgotten. Since much of the prevalent thought process is guided by the dominant sections of the society, I fear this women empowerment call is just a guise by the dominant society to protect themselves and further deepen the divisions.

12:24

Comment From Guest

There is a serious issue of Women abuse and differentiation. The women need to unite and fight for thier rights and the bias, it cannot simply happen automatically. I have seen many women openly dicriminating agianst other women due to their staion and social status.

12:24

Comment From Guest

Paternity leave is already in place in MNCs in India. Only the India government has to implement it.

12:25

Comment From sk

particularly the voices of women from rural places do not find the audience like the urban do.

12:25

Comment From pankaj tyagi

@Subhalakshmi mam! If every women start raising her voice against any form of violence in their life, then definitely one year will come when there would be no women's day. As equality reach at its summit.

12:25

Comment From Nitin Kumar

There is no doubt there shud be laws and regulation to protect women rights.But do we really have laws which will no be misused or used for blackmailing or arm-twisting. Before making a law there is need to address the misuse of law. If you see our jails they are full of un-convicts and courts full with pending cases in cases of dowry. And to assume those all in jails are guilty will be sheer prejudice. I was reading in some news paper today 200 rape cases reported in last 2 months in Delhi. Has Delhi gone insane?No! just by logic you can say many cases in this ought to be used for arm-twisting.So before enforcing a law you shud have ways to stop the misuse of it.

12:25

Comment From NIRAJ SINGH

Mam we started reservation for level playing among different social and economic background people, now i think i became sickness for the society and the problem is same as it was earlier? so i we have to choose something different for level paling.

12:25

Comment From Anuj Sharma

What women need is a unbiased society to grow up and live in.

12:25

Comment From Rajan M K

Happy women's day to everyone. Man and woman are meant for together. Celebration of one means the celebration of other also.

12:27

Comment From Guest

Feminism does not aim at humiliating or undermining men's significant roles in the society or to "oppress" them in any way. What I'm trying to say is, its something that only aims to bring out positive outcome. And for people who misuse this tool, please understand: There's a faint line between Feminism and Fanaticism! Happy Women's day

12:30

Subhalakshmi: I agree that there are complex power relations even among women - rural and urban, Dalit and non-Dalit, literate and non-literate, rich and poor. The women's movement itself has struggled with this. We have all struggled with it in our lives. But again, once we start recognising our privileges and our own power, we are more conscious I suppose. It's a long process and things do not change overnight.

12:31

Subhalakshmi: It's so unfortunate that we still Feminism as the bad 'F' word! All we're talking about is really 'equality'. Recognising that all are not equal, that all do not have equal opportunities, that all do not have adequate space and voice to raise their concerns.

12:33

Subhalakshmi: Sharing one of my favourite quotes on feminism by Dale Spender...

“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties.

Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”

12:33

Subhalakshmi: I think this says it all! :)

12:34

The Hindu: Women's emancipation is tied in with economic empowerment. Where do women stand in the current economic context of "job loss" growth?

12:35

The Hindu: Here is Kalpana Sharma's response to Pankaj Tyagi: You need to look at media coverage to realise how biased it is in favour of the metro centred crimes. So much else gets reporting in passing. All such crimes are important and we shouldn't be selective. Ultimately, it is this kind of selection, dictated by class and proximity, that also affect policy.

12:35

Subhalakshmi: Now, this is really another difficult issue. As we know, with India's economic growth, unfortunately, there has not been a matched job creation. Even the jobs created, have either been for highly skilled and educated, so women get left out.

12:36

Subhalakshmi: Or the jobs created are the most vulnerable - so we find women in forms of work that are vulnerable, underpaid, and invisible

12:36

The Hindu: Affirmative action in the private sector is still nascent and "voluntary". And the representation of women - especially in the top positions - is abysmal. What can be done to break this glass ceiling?

12:36

Subhalakshmi: Like in farming and agriculture, in home-based work, in domestic work, etc.

12:36

Comment From Usha

It is important for women to work, to gain self-respect and respect from men and family. Education and employment are important landmarks for respect in contemporary society.

12:38

Comment From Vini

I think to break the glass ceiling, the mindset of the women have to be changed.

12:39

Subhalakshmi: When we work on economic empowerment, we have a two-pronged approach - one, to work on laws, policies and programmes for women where they are currently concentrated - largely in informal employment. The second strategy is to try and bring them in spaces where they are currently not there - such as in the private sector, in highly skilled work. Of course no one can do this job alone. We need to make sure that girls have access to education, higher education, skill development. And also that once they enter the workforce, they have enabling conditions to support them.

12:39

Comment From pankaj tyagi

@ Subhalakshmi mam, our government recognize this phrase "all are not equal" from very beginning of our democracy. That's why they come up with policy like Reservation (equal opportunities), Navodaya Vidalayasa (equal education) etc. But there are flaws somewhere during the implementation of these policy or in the adaptation of these policy by society. Otherwise our constitutional framers were and government is trying to attain equality in society.

12:39

Subhalakshmi: More women in leadership within the private sector could be one strategy. Speciallly tailored mentoring and professional development programmes could be another. Strong compliance on prevention of and addressing sexual harassment at workplace is another important aspect.

12:40

Comment From NariNari

Not only is there the glass ceiling, but the "sticky floor" which keeps women in menial jobs as well! Your thoughts on that maam?

12:40

Subhalakshmi: Other enabling strategies should be to have strong social security cover, proper maternity rights, child care support, and of course, education - of men and boys to take on care responsiblities as well.

12:40

Comment From Usha

Comments like - "We allow our women a lot of freedom" shows men and elders' mindset which still believes that women need others permission to work, to have friends or to go out.

12:41

Comment From Usha

The ask is for genuine equality. Both men and women be treated as equal, who have equal right to live with dignity. No one superior or inferior.

12:41

Comment From Anuj Sharma

What we need to do is convince everyone in the society we live in that women are equal. And vote for leaders who shares our ideology

12:41

Comment From Raj Kesav

Couldn't agree more Subhalakhsmi - it is indeed everyone's duty to challenge stereotypes - societal or gender-based, who wears 'trousers' and who 'makes the home' is up to individuals themselves - there is so much untapped potential in the country because of prevailing norms and attitudes.

12:42

The Hindu: There are lots of queries on why feminism, why not humanism.

12:43

Subhalakshmi: Usha, you have pointed out something that is really important. Something about the language that we use also perpetuates inequality. When we say 'we allow our women freedom', I agree that some of us feel it is quite a patronising approach. Women do not want to be 'given' rights. We all have rights, we all just need to make sure that these rights are upheld.

12:45

Comment From Dilip

It is how men treat women an how boys are raised to respect women. It all start in family. Unfortunately male dominated culture in India does not give enough respect for women. But things are changing. Hopefully there change sooner.

12:45

Comment From Anu

we need to convince each and every person that women have equal rights as men.They should have freedom of working, dressing, speech and all freedoms men have. Women should be respected in each area of the India.

12:45

Comment From Usha

Even the most open-minded husbands who share house work feel self-conscious about the fact in front of their community and try to hide it because it has been ingrained in us what a man's role is and what is a woman's role. It seems like a monumental task to change this mindset. Perhaps the next generation can do better...

12:46

Comment From D

Well said Sid. That should be the mindset of women too. Sometimes I feel women betray women. They should not just give in easily. They should be ready to get kicked and kick when necessary. One should not cherry pick rights. It has to be held neutral and same at all situations. For instance when it comes to getting married- Its not a must that a women should have a good job as compared to men while doing the matrimony hunt! So even such form of simple bias should be taken out from ones mind. Empowerment starts from within!

12:46

Subhalakshmi: A focus on both humanism and feminism together is a good approach to take, I think. A specific focus on addressing the status of women is important - which is why feminism is important. But integrating feminism and women's rights into all our discourses is equally important - and therefore humanism is critical.

12:46

Comment From Mandira

@subhalakshmi, what in your view, are some of the systemic changes that have taken place in India to promote women's economic empowerment?

12:47

Comment From Vinay

Women empowerment must start at home, usually a woman is only responsible for taking care of the child, she eats after everyone else in the home eats, she sleeps after everyone sleeps and wakes up before everyone does, everyone eats but no one cleans the plate of their own and a woman does it for all, everyone in the family wears clothes but she only washes the clothes of all. Why only a woman have to take care of all household chores. These stereotypes must change. All these reflect the patriarchal mindset prevailing in the society and is at the core of violating against women.

12:47

Kalpana Sharma: Responding to NariNari about the "sticky floor". Very true. In fact in some countries, jobs where there are more women automatically get downgraded. It's as if the presence of women makes that particular vocation less important. It would be interesting to see if this happens with politics, when and if ever, women become the majority :)

12:48

Comment From Shubashree Desikan

To Subhalakshmi and Kalpana - There are fewer women in sciences as we go to higher levels - That is, except for mathematics and computing sciences - has this been studied in detail? How can this be addressed?

12:49

Subhalakshmi: D, Sid - while women and men are both carriers and promoters of patriarchy, I always find it useful to separate the individual and the systemic nature of it. You might think that change should always come from within, and that is absolutely crucial, But it is equally importatn to recognise the systems and structures that bind us. It's easy to say " aurat aurat ki dushman hai" but it's more difficult to actually see that the "saas-bahu" fight is becasue of the system, not the individuals, isn;t it?

12:50

Comment From Rahul

How much do you think our's being a patriarchal society affect the life of middle class indian working women?

12:50

Kalpana Sharma: Subashree Desikar: I know of women scientists who have been fighting on this issue. It begins with school when girls are discouraged from pursuing these subjects. And later, they are further discouraged from taking up careers in these subjects except for mathematics and computer sciences. Incidentally, not many noted that when the Indian Mars mission was launched, there were a substantial number of women scientists involved.

12:51

Subhalakshmi: Unfortunately, Mandira, very little has happened in the realm of "systemic changes" to promote women's economic empowermen. But I think there have been some crucial efforts of the government - for instance, to advocate for resource rights - equal property rights for sons and daughters.

12:52

The Hindu: Shubashree, Yes one in fact study on women in science in India has said that while the number of women enrolled for PhDs in science is substantial (37 per cent of all science PhDs), less than 15 per cent make it to faculty positions in top scientific institutes.

12:52

The Hindu: In some institutes such as the IISc, women comprise only 6.6 per cent of faculty.

12:52

Kalpana Sharma: I want to respond to Vinay and some others who talk about the woman's responsibility in the home and towards children. I don't see why we keep expecting women to do everything -- run the house, make sure the children have the right mindset, work outside the house, be career women, encourage their daughters, make sure their sons do not carry forward patriarchal attitudes, etc etc. Equality means the men also need to do all of these.

12:53

Comment From pankaj tyagi

@ Kalpana Sharma mam, Its not the media is biased towards "metro centered crime". Its the awareness of metro people who raised their voices against wrong acts and media is providing a platform to raise their issues. If we look for "discovering media" in India its very rare. I am agree that till some extent the policy got affected by these media reports on "metro centered crimes" and which is beneficial for metros. In overall, my preposition is that when everyone start raising voice against wrong equality will tend to come and media will go all such avenues. This courage of raising the voice will only come by EDUCATION.

12:53

Comment From Usha

Policies to promote women's economic empowerment can go only so far. Under the law, all children get equal share of their parents' property. But, in reality, we know that is not the case. The solution is nuclear family where a man and woman marry and make their own home. No dowry, but equal right to inheritance when it is divided between siblings.

12:53

Comment From NIRAJ SINGH

today we are fighting for women rights, but there is others human too like transgenders? what about their rights...are they not human being...are they don't have any needs which we have.? so we must talk about human rights irrespective of male, female and transgenders..

12:54

Subhalakshmi: Another very important initiative of the government to address the systemic issues was the TIME USE SURVEY. The first time use was done in 1998, and recently the government has completed another pilot. Time use tells us how much time men and women spend on which activities. It tells us that women do 51% more unpaid work - fuel, fodder, water collection, child-care, care of the elderly and disabled, etc. Time use surveys are a good strategy to understand men's and women's paid and unpaid work patterns, and can help to propose suitable policy recommendations.

12:55

Comment From Vinay

The media portrays working women as stressful and unhappy ones, while they show a home maker women as happy, contented one. This has to change.

12:55

Comment From Guest

In long history of India we always find a respectable position of women at family level. It was always confined to four wall of the house. But at mass level they always hold second place and faced umpteen restrictions.

12:55

Comment From Lakshmi

Are there any UN programmes to support women there. Basically economic equality at home goes a long way in destroying patriarchy, and improving women participation in the work force.

12:55

Kalpana Sharma: Niraj Singh, you have brought out a very relevant issue. The women's movement has also started using the term gender precisely for this reason. We cannot think in these simple binaries of male female and the fight for transgenders for recognition is very relevant.

12:56

Subhalakshmi: UN Women globally and in India has been supporting governments to refine Time Use methodologies and we must make it a reality if we want to address unpaid work. You might know that in the post-2015, post-MDG proposed Sustainable Development Goals, a stand-alone goal is being proposed by UN member states on gender equality - and addressing unpaid work is one of the targets! So time use could be one of the ways in addressing the systemic nature of exclusion and invisibility of women in the economy.

12:56

Comment From Lakshmi

My question is, education is still available to many women. But after motherhood, many women drop off due to non availability of good quality child care that is affordable.

12:56

Comment From Guest

In a country where the religious scriptures profess and justify the kind of treatment that women should get, there hardly remains anything more to say.. these lines from the Ramcharitmanas sum it all up, 'dhol ganwar shudra pashu naari, yeh sab taadan ke adhikari'

12:57

Subhalakshmi:

Yes, Lakshmi, you are right, In fact, in our work on economic empowerment, we have understood that we cannot work in isolation without addressing social and cultural issues. The social and economic really can't be separated.

12:59

Subhalakshmi: So even with encouraging women in the workforce, and ensuring their right to propoerty, finance and other resources, we work equally hard on the social and political aspects. Sometimes, the best strategy is simply training these women on gender aspects, and organising them into larger collectives - cooperatives, unions, etc. - so that they have greater bargaining power, not only in the market, or with banks or private sector, but also in the family and community

1:00

Subhalakshmi: Currently we are working with government and NGO partners across 12 states of India, directly trying to make a change in the lives of 100,000 women through these strategies of economic empowerment, coupled with social and political empowerment.

1:01

The Hindu: In the context of women at work - is it family or institutional bias that cuts a woman's career short?

1:01

Kalpana Sharma: My own experience in talking to women who have control over what they earn is that it changes not just their perception of themselves but also how others view them. In this context, the work done on women owning land is really important.

1:01

Comment From Vini

Women's career is cut short by herself

1:02

Kalpana Sharma: Not really, Vini. Often it is "family" pressure and expectation and at other times it is the bias at the workplace. The combination is deadly. Only the really determined survive.

1:02

Comment From pankaj tyagi

@ The Hindu, Why we are looking for these data as a biased one towards women "the number of women enrolled for PhDs in science is substantial (37 per cent of all science PhDs), less than 15 per cent make it to faculty positions in top scientific institutes". At the premier institute the most important criteria for selection is knowledge, competency. I don't know about other premier institute of India but if "The Hindu" team visit IIT-Kharagpur they will definitely how much promotion, respect and support given by the administration, faculties to girls towards higher studies, research and liberty to explore your life.

1:03

Subhalakshmi: It's clearly a combination of the two - the visible and invisible, formal and informal, the public and private. One can't separate the two as women's experiences are messy and complex along various continuum... But I don think the State has a role to play in ending discrimination both in formal and informal spaces.

1:03

Comment From Usha

One of the arguments made by Indians is that rape happens in 'Western' countries too. Yes, it does, but the difference is that the raped woman is not scorned following that. She can file a case, fight a court case, and still live with dignity in the community. In India, women who complain about rape are not allowed to live with dignity. No one wants to be with her. The stigma around rape needs to be removed. It is a crime committed against the woman, and the culprit needs to be brought to justice.

1:03

Subhalakshmi: I meant I think the State does have an important role to play.

1:03

Comment From Lakshmi

World over its true that women suffer more inequality at work than at education. Affordable quality childcare across countries could be one of many solutions to bringing more equality. Please let us know of UN programmes that could help this.

1:04

Comment From Guest

Hello people. It is good thing that a live chat is going on!

1:04

Subhalakshmi: Lakshmi, we strongly believe the child-care is a public good.

1:05

Kalpana Sharma: Usha, I don't think one can generalise about "western" countries. I think women everywhere have a real struggle dealing with rape. What does help is a responsive criminal justice system and also other forms of support for the survivor, both of which are missing in India.

1:05

Comment From Usha

A woman may decide to look after her children, that is her choice. The point is - as long as it is her choice. Many women may want to work part time when their children are young, which is understandable. The government and society's role is to allow for such work arrangement.

1:06

Subhalakshmi: We work with government and NGO partners on advocacy, training and research to drive home the point that care has to be provided and regulated by the State, and rights of care-workers should also be protected and promoted. We are part of an alliance of gender champions working on this issue. It is an important part of our global mandate and vision as well,

1:06

Comment From Shubashree Desikan

I think there is a considerable amount institutional bias and also the need for women to be groomed to tackle largely male-dominated domains like scientific institutions... I feel that teaching of science for girls (school and college) needs to be re-thought with this factor put in...

1:07

Subhalakshmi: Usha, our experience in other countries of the global South has shown us that making provisions for 'flexi-time' and giving 'part-time' work full-time status are important strategies for retaining and promoting women in the workforce.

1:07

Comment From skiyer

Are the mwn paticipative in action against violance on women in India? i doubt. In western countries there is a lot of parrticipation and awareness.

1:09

Comment From Shubashree Desikan

Also Subhalakshmi policies that deny placement of husband and wife in the same institution often work against the women...

1:09

Kalpana Sharma: Skiyer, certainly there is more participation by men in issue such as violence against women in some countries outside India. But I suggest that in India this has begun to change in the last couple of years, nowhere near what is needed but still a step forward.

1:09

Subhalakshmi: Everyone can be a champion for ending violence against women - man, women, child, transgender... There are many movements and groups in India of all these multiple constituencies working collectively and individually to end gender based violence

1:10

Comment From skiyer

is there proper mandatory ratio of workmen in indian workplaces?

1:10

Subhalakshmi: Last year, UN Women supported a massive Men Engage conference to support the work of these groups. There are a lot of champions around us, We have to look for them, and we have to become them! :)

1:12

Comment From Lakshmi

Just to clarify. Do you mean the State should take ownership of providing childcare in the context of getting more women into paid jobs.

1:12

Subhalakshmi: There are some laws that have mandatory provisions for encouraging women's participation in the workforce. For instance, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act legally mandates 33% worker to be women.

1:12

Comment From Rohan

The spirit of Women`s Day should be celebrated and inculcated in everyday life.

1:13

Comment From Usha

Kalpana, Yes, one cannot generalise about "western" countries. They have their own struggles. Today, a story has made news that sexual harassment in medical profession in Australia is rife. The counter-point was about rape stigma in India, which silences a lot of women in India (non-reporting of rape). It did not argue that women do not have their own battles to fight in other countries.

1:13

Kalpana Sharma: Totally agree, Rohan. In fact, why do we need a special Women's Day? Do we really need to remind people once a year that we exist?

1:13

Subhalakshmi: Lakshmi, yes, we beleive the State must take primary ownership - some states in India have already tried to do this, such as Tamil Nadu. And in addition, the State must also regulate and ensure that private institutions also provide such services. So it is a role as provider, enabler adn regulator I suppose, in the context of care service.

1:13

Comment From Vinay

Women empowerment must start at home, usually a woman is only responsible for taking care of the child, she eats after everyone else in the home eats, she sleeps after everyone sleeps and wakes up before everyone does, everyone eats but no one cleans the plate of their own and a woman does it for all, everyone in the family wears clothes but she only washes the clothes of all. Why only a woman have to take care of all household chores. These stereotypes must change. All these reflect the patriarchal mindset prevailing in the society and is at the core of violence against women.

1:14

Comment From rahul

what is effective idea to tackle with rape issues in short span of time?should we make some strict law? or something?

1:15

Subhalakshmi: Vinay, it is really inspiring to read your comment. And yes, I completely agree with you...

1:15

Kalpana Sharma: Usha, I think there is a kind of stigma that works even in the West as the majority of women do not come out and speak up on rape. The famous Central Park jogger, who was raped when she went for a run, spoke up many years later and identified herself but did so only when she felt healed and confident. So even there, it is a tough battle against prejudices and your own internalised perceptions of what you are.

1:15

Comment From skiyer

In India on International women"s day i hadly see or any men even talking avout it.

1:16

Comment From Vijay

Instead of negative publicity to crime against women, more and more positive news in which the perpetrators of crime are convicted and punished and the victim is rehabilitated should be given prominence. In other words, right now the media is painting a stark picture of the Police and Judiciary which is not always the case.

1:16

Comment From Usha

We need women's day because we are a long way off from a world where men and women have the same rights!

1:16

Comment From VINOD

tell me is Mr Modi serious in his commitment if so why is he not controlling all the babas and even Rajnath Singh who banned India's Daughter a well meaning documentary.

1:18

Subhalakshmi: Vijay, unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that there are very few convictions. It is not severity of punishment, rather the surety of conviction that will really act as a deterrant for crimes of violence against women. As a society, we must continue to demand that data and accountability from police and juduciary.

1:18

Kalpana Sharma: Vijay, Rahul, both of you have a point. There are laws, there is a ciminal justice system, but we have to make them work. At the same time, we also need to highlight when they do work. This encourages women to report. We in the media must also inform people about the support groups that exist. For instance, in Mumbai, the group Majlis has now set up Rahat specially to help women victims of violence to negotiate the criminal justice system. That's the kind of information that needs to reach many more people, women and men.

1:18

Comment From Raj Kesav

The fact remains that the value of the '51% more unpaid work' goes largely unnoticed and unappreciated even by those doing it all their lives. Fetching water from the well and doing the dishes could be just as physically demanding as tasks that pay a wage. Perhaps women should use the day to collectively re-enact a version of 'Lysistrata' by foregoing all 'unpaid' activities on Women's day? :-)

1:19

Comment From Maina

Don't wish me "happy women's day". Its not a day for flowers, gifts and wishes. Inherent in the very reason for an "International Women's day" is the fact that the rights of women, world over and irrespective of country, religion, income and education, are still sadly marginalised. Fix that instead! This day is not for wishing your mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, friends and colleagues. This day is a constant reminder of the lack of equal rights and calls not for wishes, but rather for CHANGE! - written while in a meeting with government officials, senior corporate leaders and known advisors; discussing how to solve a specific government department's Rs 70,000+ crore losses. The room had over 80 men and only 3 women.

1:19

Kalpana Sharma: Vinod, I am glad you have aksed this question. I have also been asking this. If you are really concerned about violence against women, deal with people in your own party and government who perpetuate misogyny and regressive patriarchal attitudes.

1:19

Comment From Anthony Raj

I read entire comments. I totally agree. Women need protection both at home and work place.

1:20

Comment From Lakshmi

When people all around see women participation in all walks of life in much much larger numbers, respect, equality, non objectification of women. And equal participation in child care and house hold chores will automatically happen.

1:20

Comment From Shubashree

Sadly a lot of intimidation happens at home also - from silencing the girl child to marital rape - what is being done to address these issues

1:20

Subhalakshmi: Well said Maina. Our biggest challenge today is convincing people that free spas and gifts are really quite the opposite of what Women's Day stands for!

1:20

Kalpana Sharma: Maina, well said! Couldn't have put it better myself.

1:21

Comment From Ram

I find this whole women's day to be really moot. Why do even need one? It is inherently sexist. It's like saying we celebrate 'Human day' .

1:21

Subhalakshmi: Lakshmi, just one last comment - expereince says nothing happens automatically.

1:22

The Hindu: Kalpana, Subhalakshmi, any final thoughts you would like to share? We will be ending this this live chat in the next few minutes.

1:22

Subhalakshmi: For change to happen, it will require reflection, action, intent and like it or not - budgets!

1:23

Subhalakshmi: The last comment was my final thought. Thanks to The Hindu for organising this conversation and for inviting UN WOmen, Thanks to all participants for your active engagement. Keep the conversations going!

1:23

The Hindu: Many thanks to you and also to all the many guests who joined us and made the chat a lively, thought-provoking one!

1:23

Kalpana Sharma: It is good we get chances like this to talk about women's issues. As I said at the beginning, this needs to happen often, not just one day in the year. And we need to keep talking to each other. It is an essential conversation in our country where there are so many transitions taking place and so many questions being asked. Thank you all, and The Hindu, for organising this chat.

1:25

The Hindu: Thank you Kalpana and Subhalakshmi and also to everyone who participated. Happy Women's Day to all the women and men who joined this debate!

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 11:35:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/women-day-2015-live-chat-with-kalpana-sharma/article6969375.ece

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