The worth of a society is pronounced by the status enjoyed by its women. India’s ancient culture, ascribed one of the greatest honoured places to its women. But history has it that in the later period, the position of women deteriorated due to various factors and they were compelled to keep themselves within the confinement of four walls, with a veil. This led to women exploitation, that plagues the Indian society till date. Women are often mistreated, oppressed and victimized by the very people they love and care for. Though the Indian Constitution today has given women, an equal status with men and there must not be any discrimination between men and women, still the social fabric remains compartmentalized on gender basis.

Even after the Equal Remuneration Act (1976) there exists huge disparity in the value given to women’s profession as against men. From the fields of medicine, education to film business, the wage gap is very apparent. There is sexism in hiring and promotion received by the employees whereas, there should be no bias of this sort and employment should solely be on the grounds of one’s qualifications. The same stands for wages, the degree of work should be the decisive factor not the gender of the person. This culture of discrimination against women needs to be addressed.

Female foeticide is another prevalent taint present in the Indian community. The Medical Termination Act (1971) and the Pre-Conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (2004) clearly state this as illegal, however due to improper implementation it still prevails. The gender stereotype is evident as often girls are not educated and put to do household work, without their endurance. Smile Foundation’s initiative ‘She Can Fly’ is an effort to encourage girl child and enable, equip and empower them with quality education so that they can grow to fulfil their aspirations. This provides a platform for encouragement and support of women to overcome and walk beyond the social barriers and shallow mind-sets.

The main cause of all the above is rooted in gender-based discrimination and social norms. The best way to address this issue is by preventing it from happening in the first place by approaching its root and systemic cause. We can begin with educating and working with young boys and girls to promote respectful relationships and gender equality. This is the fastest way for sustained progress in preventing and eradicating gender-based cruelty. While public policies and interventions often overlook this stage of life, we need to come together and proactively work with the youth as it is a critical time when values and norms around gender equality are moulded. There is a need for strong focus on prevention by promoting gender equality, women’s empowerment and their enjoyment of human rights. This can be made possible by proper implementation of measures related to education, training and awareness building, in order to ensure that women are protected from exploitation in all forms of abuse.

Let us all strive towards making the home and public spaces safer for women and girls, ensuring women’s economic autonomy and security, and increasing women’s participation and decision-making powers—in the home and relationships, as well as in public life.

Let us all come forward and join hands to give wings to her dreams. Empower, educate, and make her strong to stand her own ground and shine in her efforts. She Can Fly, let’s give her the sky!

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Kritee Agarwal

Kritee is an avid volunteer at Smile Foundation, studying in Class XI pursuing commerce with maths. She's a dreamer, travel enthusiast and music lover driven to make the most of life that she can.

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