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Womena and Society - Part I

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Participation of women in human society is significant since they are mothers who mould the self-behaved citizens’ right from infancy stage. Their contribution to welfare of the society in general and family in particular are great as they give birth to the “would be makers and pillars” of future world. In a way, they are superiors to anybody. There was a time women were confined to three ‘K’s i.e. Kids, kitchen and knitting. But today the scene is entirely different. They equally occupy all positions in the social strata – whether it is head of the country, state, corporate and what not! Whatever be the role they play, they are held in high esteem. This is the generalized fact. The objective of this write-up is to review the role of women in the welfare of family and to create public interest on issues concerned with it and to suggest ideas and present leads in order to have rectifications in policies and strategies currently adopted by the government agencies.

Government should evolve new strategies to overcome the deficiencies in the age-old systems and practices and must try to adept themselves to current needs of the society. Women’s participation in society can broadly include – Family Planning, Child Welfare, Family Education and Voluntary participation in welfare of society. As Mr.G.A.Wagholkar rightly said, ‘one expected that those women who were in frying pan could have fought a mountainous problem tooth and nail and could have set an ideal for males. Instead they are involved in sinister acts of degrading themselves. For example, pregnant women’s wish to bear a male child, barren couple’s desires to adopt a male
child, a couple having only daughters desires to be blessed with a son, mother’s discriminatory treatment to her own son and daughter in matters of education, clothing, food, etiquette and manners, celebration of birth days and demand of dowry, all in combination support that treatment. This is the picture of one section of women. If you see other section of women, their plight is contrary to the former. The sweep and pace of their progress has unquestionably established their contribution in all fields. They are breaking the shackles of traditionalism and are proving to be an asset to the developmental process occupations. Women are conquering citadels which are a sign of their physical and mental strength. They are found equally competent in all fields. Why then vast differences exist among the same gender? There are so many reasons.

The number of dowry deaths is a lot more and far alarming as compared to the cold statistical figure of less than one sati death per year since 1947. Capital Delhi alone has been witnessing over 500 dowry deaths per year since independence. It is not illiteracy, ignorance, superstition, behind customs and traditions or even religious fanaticism that account for such cruel, barbaric and inhuman atrocities on women. It was often found that the biggest hindrance for the continued education of girls were their mothers who wanted their daughters to drop out of school in order to help her with the housework. See one courageous woman in Kolkata – After her sudden death of her husband at tender age, she had accepted her fate and took over her husband’s business within 15 days of his husband’s passing away and she now runs the business as efficiently as he did. One can find her bubbling with enthusiasm and self confidence as if
nothing had happened in her life and everything was absolutely normal. This is the lesson to those who fail to come to terms with their lives.
Child Welfare
Keeping a family happy is really a full time job. And when they are happy it is so satisfying rewarding for mothers. At times like these a mother feels very proud. In fact it just makes her look for many more ways to make her family happy. Her home is an expression of her life style. The best needs of the children are well looked after in the family and the mother has a crucial role to play in so far as she is the key figure who exerts a maximum influence on the child and moulds its personality during its most impressionable years of life. A mother well trained in the basic needs of child care is the key to be the best human resources development. This was the background to the launching of ambitious Family and Child Welfare Scheme during the 5th Five Year Plan. For the first time, in Five Year Plan, greater emphasis was laid on the training of mother in various aspects of child care.
Mothers should go into the range of the problems facing children, assess their needs during the various stages of development and suggest programs to meet the needs.
Mothers have to ensure their (children) full physical, mental and social development. Women should have a comprehensive health programmes viz. nutrition services for eliminating the deficiencies in the diet of children, expectant and nursing mothers, nutrition education of mothers, free and compulsory education for all children unto 14 years, promotion of physical education and recreational activities, enhancement of the

capability of the other to look after the normal health needs of the child through proper nutritious and health education.
Maternal and child health is crucial to the survival of the child; accordingly, prenatal and postnatal care has assumed great significance over the years. Only healthy mothers can bring to the world healthy children. It is, therefore, no wonder that both the mother and the child are taken due care in the hospitals in the cities and primary health centers in the villages.
Several children in India go blind on account of the deficiency of vitamin A. This trend is now being sought to be reversed through the proper education of the mother in the use of plenty of locally available leafy vegetables in the daily diet of the child and through fortified diet, enriched with vitamin ‘A’, provided for children under different programmes like the Applied Nutrition Programme, the Special Nutrition Programmes, Programmes of the ICDS, the Midday Meals schemes for schools popular in many States. Therefore, women should realize that a child does not belong to a family alone, but to the community and the Nation as well. The shape of things to come would depend on how well women mould their children.
Welfare Schemes
Women’s Integrated Learning for Life (WILL) bears additional component in the existing Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programmes. WILL’s objectives are:
  • To enable illiterate girls and young women to acquire the skills of literacy

  • To promote a better awareness of health, hygiene, nutrition and family planning among girls and young women
  • To impart need based training in home management and child care
  • To foster civic awareness among young women so as to enable them to play their role as citizens of the country and
  • To develop small libraries of books, in local languages, to sustain the newly acquired literacy skills – elementary literacy, non-formal education, covering elements of health and hygiene, food and nutrition, family planning, home management and home based crafts, child care civic education and home based occupations.
WILL class would comprise about 15 girls in a village. Anganwadi workers would undertake this task for who would be paid some sort of honorarium for this job.

Every woman needs to fulfill her creative urge – the working woman for recreation, the housewife to dispel the dullness of routine chores and the student for stimulation. Why not spend their spare time profitably and usefully and make the delightful service towards welfare society. They will be a source of pleasure and pride for them and their family. They should restore the sense of dignity. Let us have a casual look at the present welfare activities undertaken by the few State Governments:
· Cash assistance to pregnant agricultural labourers;
· Certain jobs are exclusively reserved for women;
· Working women’s hostels are established at cities/big towns

· Women are encouraged to form Self Help Group and they are given necessary training and financial assistance for the purpose.
· Special departments for women and child welfare have been created to ensure speedy and efficient implementation of the schemes drawn for them
· A separate court has been established n some metro centres to try cases involving atrocities on women. Few States have established separate corporations for looking after the women’s problem and their welfare and women police stations are established.
· BALA, Mahila Pranganams are established in all districts to train poor women in crafts and to educate their children
· Women’s education received boost with the establishment of a separate university for women in all parts of the country. The university besides imparting usual academic instruction would provide special courses to women to enable them to become self-supporting economically.
· Sanitary toilets in big villages have been constructed.
· Monthly pension to destitute widows irrespective of caste and creed is paid.
· 30% of jobs in all government departments are reserved for women.
· Some of the organizations working for women to quote :
Central Social Welfare Board
Balkanji Bari
Guild of Service
Seva Samajam
Mukhya Sevika
Child Welfare Organization
Social Education Organisation
Social Welfare Organisation
Self-Employed Women’s Association etc
Women, thus, ensured a fair and just role in society due to the various welfare schemes being implemented.
Women welfare received a new impetus and far-reaching programmes have been launched for their welfare and all round development. Women have to become the beneficiaries of the fruits of developments. Most important measure recently emerged was the conferment of equal rights to women in ancestral property.
The field of self-employment surely cannot become a scare-crow for women to enter into. Nothing is impossible for women. The only thing that is prominently needed is to create awareness among them so that they will know their worth. Individual attempts are necessary to be made in this regard. It is shown stupendous potential to become a pioneering institution for spreading the cult of self-employment of women eg tailoring shop, knitting embroidery, pickles/masalas making.

Continuned in Part II
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