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When will the good times (achhe din) come for women in India?

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George feels it is high time we stop being lenient on rapists and eve teasers--"They should be given harsher punishments as mere fines will not help. Also it should be made mandatory for girls to learn some form of self-defense in schools. Government should also have special packages for families with the girl child. It will definitely make a difference if every man has a daughter. I have a daughter, hence whenever I hear about crimes against women I feel angry and upset and also more committed towards gender equality".

'Make It Happen': IWD 2015

Accountability in our work and respect for humanity would go a long way in improving the status of women in India according to Dr Pooja Ramakant. The theme for International Women's Day 2015 is 'Make It Happen' by encouraging effective action for gender equality. This year, the celebrations also highlight the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap, signed by 189 governments 20 years ago, that sets the agenda for realizing women's rights, and envisions a world where every woman and girl can exercise her choices, and live in societies free from violence and discrimination. Let us heed the clarion call of UN Women's Beijing+20 campaign--'Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!'

Working on changing norms of gender equality during childhood is critical. It is essential to carry out reflective learning programmes on gender equality to reach young boys early in their lives, and to bring men and women together to create spaces where traditional gender roles are confronted and challenged.

Unless we break the social construct of lauding beautiful women and macho men; unless we denormalize the 'girls will be girls and boys will be boys' attitude; unless we stop gifting kitchen sets and Barbie dolls to girls and cricket bats and toy guns to boys; unless, we as parents, do not give preferential treatment to the boys (even subconsciously) that makes them feel that their needs as males have preference over those of their sisters; and unless we address the neglected issue of 'shame' that is, more often than not, at the root of all types of violence and crime, the good times will never come.

Boys and men have to be seen not only as part of the problem but also part of the solution in reducing the perpetuation of traditional masculinity that abets violence against women. I read these beautiful lines somewhere: 'While we raise our girls to be powerful and independent, can we also raise our sons to be kind, meek, and compassionate?' It is high time that we start bringing up our children (sons and daughters alike) to be independent, strong, compassionate, tolerant and loving human beings.

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS

(The author is the Managing Editor of Citizen News Service - CNS. Twitter: @shobha1shukla, @cns_health; Facebook.com/CNS.page; Email: shobha|AT|citizen-news.orgEmail address; website: www.citizen-news.org)

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