The Indian Constitution mandates gender equality (as per clauses 14, 15, 15(3), 16, 39(a), 39(b), 39(c), and 42)but does not always translate into reality. The constitution also prohibits discrimination of religion, race, caste, or sex amongst Indian citizens. The preamble of the Indian constitution emphasizes the importance of equality through
Equality of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all
In India, women still face a lot of gender-based discrimination and violence. Women in India often live in hazardous conditions for their health, well-being, and development. It is not just about being equal with men but being parallel in India. Women's diversity should be recognized, along with a recognition of any gender-based violence or discrimination within their institutions, policies, and practices.
A societal and political gyration is looming for rural adult females in India as the grammatical gender landscape painting has changed over two decennaries. During the 1992 organic amendments, India legislated non-binding linguistic rules and accommodated Panchayati Raj, essentially village self-government. This constitutional amendment initiated Saroj Kumari's journey into women empowerment.
I interviewed Saroj Kumari, a member of the disciplinary committee of Rajasthan BJP; We discussed an intriguing narrative of how she found herself in empowering women.
1. When and how did you first join this field?
"I've been in this field for almost 27, 28 years. Though I got into it accidentally, In 1992, when the reservation for women at grassroots levels began, I got involved accidentally."
2. What is your story?
"I was born into was a locally known family. Before me, one man was sitting in that seat for the last 37 years by hook or by crook. He managed to remain the pradhan of that place for many years. He did not allow the elections to take place. There was a period when there were no elections for 14 to 15 years. He became a force to reckon upon. He was not willing to give up, but when a reservation came in, then he had no option.
Then I was approached at that time. So I said, look, I have never been interested in politics. Neither do I know what to do, and said, "you won't have to do much. You'll have one meeting in a month and provide a little bit of electricity and a few roads. And that. So I felt that. Yes, maybe for society I can find time for these jobs. So I went around the garlands for two days and three days. And the next, they said to me that you become pradhan of the block, which had 56 grand panchayats under it, with a total of 2 and a half lakhs voters. I removed a man from the scene who would be there for the last 17 years and came into his shoes. Thousands of people turned up to see a woman sitting in the seat. They could never imagine that a woman would be sitting there."
3. When was your most empowering moment?
"On the first day, I walked into the office, the guard sitting outside was smoking and sitting with his feet up. As soon as I entered, I told him. Keep your feet down and throw away the cigarette. There was no proper washroom for females because they never needed one. So I told them. I'm giving you one month. When the bathroom is ready, then I'll come to the office. Otherwise, after today, I'm not coming here. So this is how I started. And that was the moment I felt empowered that I could do what I wanted to do."
4. What do you think is the importance of education in women's empowerment?
"In my experience, the first 25 years went by very slowly, and then there was a reasonable pace. But now it's difficult for them to keep up with the changing times. And that's why education is even more relevant today. The world has realized that you cannot make headway without education. Decision-making will be more balanced if women know what is happening globally and keep pace. In the 21st century, women can match up to a man's achievement."
She made some transcendent points on being finically independent as a woman in today's society.
"financial independence is essential for women empowerment. And that's why here I find in India, at least a lot of schemes were launched, which would benefit the family, like giving a hostname to the women of the family. So she feels strong enough that, you know, she owns a place, and nobody can throw her out."
Mrs.Saroj Kumari's story and life experiences are one to listen to and tell. With an impressive visuality of the world, she has seen unfavorable situations. Women's empowerment roots lie in the same history, even when viewed differently.