“The world will be saved by the Western woman (and some Eastern women)”
– Dalai Lama
In light of International Women’s Day, I want to share an experience I had on my first trip to India last October. There were several situations that made me quite aware of being a woman in that country.
One of these experiences was when I was travelling with my brother and his partner Matt. Every time we removed our luggage from taxis, the driver would assist the boys first. Often I would be left to carry my own bags while the boys had theirs carried for them. Another regular experience (that was unique to me as a woman) was being left alone by the beggars. The boys were harassed and I was seldom targeted. Women are not considered because they are not as financial as men.
Due to the gender parity I experienced in India, I decided to find out more about what marks the difference between the Western woman and the Eastern woman. In particular, I wanted to know how the Indian woman experiences the gender inequality in her country.
The Western woman is free. She has the freedom to vote, the freedom to work, the freedom to choose her partner, the freedom to learn, the freedom to own property and most of all, the freedom of choice and being. Today, the Western woman possesses unprecedented power and an unpaired degree of freedom. The Dalai Lama expressed at the Vancouver Peace Summit of 2009 that “we need more effort to promote basic human values – human compassion, human affection. And in that respect, females have more sensitivity for others’ pain and suffering”. In essence, it is the Western woman who has the empathy, emotion, passion and power to make a difference in the lives of the unfortunate.
The Eastern woman is in a limbo between the Western woman’s distant past and the promise of a liberated future. Socialised by a rigid patriarchal monarchy, the Eastern woman is often denied the same freedoms the Western woman understands as basic human rights, regardless of gender or ethnicity. The gender inequality in India is a vast problem that affects all aspects of society. The Eastern woman is too often stripped of her essential human rights including the very basic, single most important right: the right to exist.
Sex-selective abortion and female infanticide are very real practices. Although they are legally banned, the statistics of India’s sex ratio (with an improbable number of boys born each year over girls) proves it is still an unfathomable reality. This is mainly driven by the Indian family’s preference for sons. For many rural families, the burden to produce an expensive dowry for their female daughter is not an option. For Indian women, the gender inequality in India is a vicious circle. From a young age, women are often denied education, many times forced to drop out of higher education (there are twice as many Indian boys than girls enrolled in secondary education), then paid lower wages for the same work, restricted to credit access (because of a lack of collateral or property ownership), denied property ownership (especially with inheritance), and can’t pay back their loans with many committing suicide.
Today is International Women’s Day and all around the world people are standing up, speaking out and pledging for parity. All year round, The Hope Foundation takes many actions to ensure that the gender inequality in India is abridged. With a Vocational Training Institute providing women in poverty with vocational training, Hope has seen the withdrawal of women and their children from the streets and into respected trades. The main trades taught are: Knitting, Tailoring, Fabric, Tie and Dye, Embroidery, Bakery, Catering, Computers, Beautician Skills and Photography.
In honour of International Women’s Day, the Hope Foundation is running their #Sheis4Parity Campaign to fight gender inequality, promote girls’ right, and to stop female infanticide. All you have to do is share anything from your heart that supports or empowers women on your social media account and tag #Sheis4Parity
Vulnerable women throughout the world need you to become their voice. It is up to the women in the West to save the world and today, with so many outlets of change, the opportunity to make an impact is in your hands. You can make a change to abridge the gender inequality in India with the purchase of a pair of inspirational Moeloco flip flops. Check out our full range at www.moeloco.com
Happy International Women’s Day to both men and women!
Pledge for Parity,