Still looking for that voice of liberation

Women's liberation is a strong word even if it belongs to the supposedly weak and vulnerable. It stands for the voices of scores of discriminated and oppressed women worldwide who are yet to taste the liberation that the women's rights movement promised them. Their cry is ironically silent as the supremacy and domination of men continue  unabated globally.

Consider the staggering statistics: among the 1.4 million people all over the world who are living below $1 a day, about 70% are women and girls; women account for around two-thirds of the world's working hours but earn only 10% of the world's income; women produce half of the world's food but own only 1% of its land; and of the 900 million adults worldwide who cannot read or write, about two-thirds are women.

The highest-paying fields are still dominated by men, and on an average, women earn just 77% of what men earn for the same amount of work. Globally, women make up just 23.3% of parliamentarians (Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2017).

Other evils against women and girls are also rampant. Violence, detention from education, early marriage, abuse, female genital mutilation, trafficking and femicide are just a few. The gender disparity that the forerunners in women's liberation sought to eliminate decades back has not been achieved completely.

Gender-based inequality and marginalisation, that goes against the universal law that all men and women are created equal, is very much part of the contemporary world. And this persisting gender disparity continues to be one of the biggest barriers to the progress of nations and to the entire human race.

An unfinished job

Women roughly constitute 50% of the world's population. Unless they can participate and contribute to the progress of a nation, the nation can achieve only a fraction of the advancement it is capable of otherwise reaching.

Liberating women and giving them the same rights that her counterparts of the opposite sex enjoy as well as  unshackling women from the clutches of oppressive and retrograde practices will propel nations from backwardness to progress. This, in turn, will  free the entire human race from false notions of superiority.

A world thus liberated ennobles and empowers its denizens. What better platform can the world hope to set up for its harmony and progress?

Liberation and empowerment, the two most powerful words for a forward change, yet remain a distant dream for a vast majority of women around the world.

More often than not, most women find themselves oppressed and powerless in their own homes. There is precious little they can do about the spouse who may be an alcoholic, a cheat, a jobless or a lazy and irresponsible man.

Mothers and wives are not honoured in equal measure with fathers and husbands. Sons and brothers receive greater privileges and rights while daughters and sisters are relegated to lower positions. Before women can be respected in their workplaces and in society they are discriminated against in their very homes.

The evil of hierarchy and its backward outlook originates from the very domestic front and limits the self-worth of women and girls. However, when they are given their due - and equal - honour in their homes, it sets up the stage for liberation and empowerment. A way of life rooted in equality is then easier to achieve.

Liberation and empowerment is thus a two-way process. When the oppressed are liberated and empowered, the oppressor too is liberated and empowered in the right sense. A more equitable distribution of power in society on personal, economic and political levels is achieved for common and lasting welfare.

Every International Women's Day, the world comes together to applaud the progress of women despite the many shortfalls. It's a day when they get a pat on the back for the good fight they have given over the ages to raise themselves up from degradation.

But one cannot forget the price they have paid to win the fight against gender disparity nor the unfinished job that women's liberation and empowerment represents. The search to find the voice of liberation continues after every Women's Day is honoured and celebrated.

For, as Melinda Gates put it, "A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult."

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