Bhubaneswar: Anguished over falling female sex ratio and rising crimes against women despite a plethora of laws, Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva has sought concrete steps for changing mindset of people to ensure complete empowerment of women.
"Statistics present a sad picture falling female sex ratio, rising crimes against women and children, and the negative impact of a competitive globalised economy on their lives," Alva said.
As 2011 Census data reveals in several districts, where literacy and education have improved, and per capita incomes increased, sex ratio of the girl has fallen, she said delivering a lecture here last night.
"Science seems to have joined hands with tradition to destroy the female foetus which is termed as the missing child," Alva said.
Voicing concern over rising foeticide, infanticide, child marriages, domestic violence, rape and `dowry death`, Alva said "I am deeply anguished and exasperated that our Society, even as it places women on a religious pedestal to be worshipped, can maintain a stoic, deafening silence in the face of extreme violence against women.
Though women perform difficult back-breaking jobs in agriculture, industry and the informal sector and work long hours, they are generally paid less than men, she said adding the moment the machine or labour saving devices come, the women are eased out and the men take over.
Stating that woman`s income vanishes and her work in the home is termed unpaid labour of love not accounted for in GDP or National Income, she said this is true also of women who work on family farms and enterprises performing difficult tasks for the family -- fetching fuel, fodder and water.
Quoting a UN report, Alva said. "Women, who comprise half the world`s population, do two thirds of the world`s work, earn one tenth of the world`s income and own one hundredth of the world`s property."
Stating that laws have been passed, plans and programmes
adopted and campaigns launched to enlighten and empower women, the Rajasthan Governor said the current slogan is "Complete Empowerment".
Over the years, thanks to reservations for women in local elected bodies, participation of women in the political, social and economic arena has increased considerably,she said.
Women have become visible in the decision making processes and have changed the development agenda at the grass roots -- giving it a human face. Self-Help Groups and MNREGA are bringing economic empowerment, she said.
But there is also evidence of education and employment of women causing tensions in social and family relationships between men and women, Alva said adding this is bound to happen when a society is in transition.
The challenge is to manage the change smoothly, as we move forward to build a more equal and equitable society. The most crucial challenge is changing the mind set of people both men and women, especially the young.