Sustainable Development Goals
To mark International Women’s Day, Subhalakshmi Nandi, head of the Women’s Economic Empowerment unit at UN Women India Multi Country Office (MCO), and Kalpana Sharma, columnist and former deputy editor at The Hindu, took questions on the issue of gender equality during a live chat.
The chat saw many readers and participants express their concerns on issues of gender and equality in India. Ms. Nandi made a strong case for adequate resources. “For change to happen, we need reflection, action, intent and like it or not – budgets!” The discussion ranged from violence within the family and attitudes towards working women to misogyny and sexism in Parliament. It also touched on issues of power and the different experiences of women based on their caste and class identities. “There are complex power relations even among women – rural and urban, Dalit and non-Dalit, literate and non-literate, rich and poor,” Ms. Nandi said. “The women’s movement itself has struggled with this. We have all struggled with it in our lives. But once we start recognising our privileges and our own power, we are more conscious [of it]. It’s a long process and things do not change overnight.”
Ms. Sharma emphasised the need for change in societal attitudes not only vis-à-vis women’s gender roles but also those of men. “I don’t see why we keep expecting women to do everything – run the house, make sure the children have the right mindset, work outside the house, be career women, encourage their daughters, and make sure their sons do not carry forward patriarchal attitudes”. Equality means the men also need to do all of these,” she said, underscoring the need for shared responsibilities.