Speaker: Smt. Rekha Sharma, Chairperson of NCW
Facilitator: Ms. Priyanka Deo, YouTuber, NIJ
Compiled by: Somya Jain
Date: 17th April 2020
The world has taken over by the global pandemic Coronavirus, coined as COVID-19. It has affected every other individual in several aspects, be it financially, socially, mentally or emotionally. Everyone is fighting against it in their own ways. This is one of those difficult times when the world is in disarray, everything is blurred and the situation is getting worse by every single minute.
Every other section of the society has been hit differently by the outbreak of the virus. In this discussion, Mrs. Rekha Sharma drew our attention towards the condition of women during the crisis. As she is the chairperson of NCW, she was able to give us a wide perspective over the conditions that women are living in and the problems they are facing. She elaborated on the sort of challenges that Indian women are coming across during COVID-19 and gave some valuable tips while answering to the question being asked on how women can maintain their emotional well-being amidst the ongoing situation. Since everyone is at home due to the national lockdown, the burden of household chores has increased and responsibility of feeding the children, looking after the parents and husband at the same time for the whole day has become a bit of a task. Therefore, she gave some tips to follow which will help them to maintain their physical and mental health while they are at home:
- To spend time with themselves
- To do physical work or exercise
- To learn a new skill
- Get in touch with nature
- Spend time with family rather than being on social media
Now if we look at the condition of migrant women, it is definitely much worse as they are homeless and do not have enough food or resources. So, she tried to encourage people to donate money, help them feed and contribute to the PM Care Fund She further elaborated on the point of gender inequality and gave an insight on the stigmas and stereotypes that are attached with the role of a woman and how they affect her in so many ways. Being asked about the condition of women in prison by the facilitator Ms Priyanka, she clearly stated that when a woman goes to a prison, she is all alone. Her family abandons her and leaves her behind to suffer which is clearly opposite in the case where a man commits any crime. A woman loses the support of her parents and stays unwelcomed in her own house, her husband would be married to someone else and everyone makes her feel unwanted.
“A woman is the first target of any calamity or crisis that takes place and mainly in rural areas where they suffer problems related to health, sanitation, education of their children”. In such cases, the basic necessities- “Roti, Kapda aur Makaan” must be ensured to the migrant workers who lose all the resources and their homes. Women have always faced discrimination at every place, be it their work place or home. The unequal distribution of salaries is one of the many other issues. Women are mostly paid less than men for the same kind of work and sometimes jobs are offered to them on the basis of their marital status. They are treated as weak, fragile and submissive. At home, they are taught to learn all the household chores and are expected to fulfill all their duties towards their families whereas boys are never forced to do the same. On the contrary, the changes must start from the families itself so that coming generations do not hold the same stereotypes that society itself creates. There are hundreds and thousands of cases of domestic violence that we see or hear about and this is something women are ashamed to ask help for and stand against. Thus, many of them end up bearing pain and torture. Through the conversation with Mrs. Rekha, many women out there got to know the steps that they can take if they face such a situation.
Those steps include:
- To either dial on 100/181 or ping on the whatsapp helpline number of NCW-7217735372
- To scream for help in order to draw attention of nearby people
- Knock on neighbor’s door as they are easily approachable
We must stop thinking and treating people on the basis of gender and start thinking as human beings first. The norms set by the society controls the actions of its people and now it is time to change such norms that restricts the idea of building a better society for women and the voice of our youth is one of the most powerful weapons to achieve it. Today, a woman has every right to step out of her house to work, to earn, to explore and to become independent. Gone are the days when they used to sacrifice every chance of happiness for their families. Ms Rekha gave a beautiful message in the conversation that ‘until and unless a woman herself isn’t happy, she cannot make others happy’.
The discussion ended with an optimistic view of building up a society that treats men and women both with equal respect in every sphere. Any abusive behavior towards women should be recorded and necessary actions should be taken. Our guest, Mrs. Rekha gave the necessary details, like helpline number of NCW, website address and the mail id through which they can register their complaints, share their problems and can easily reach out for help in case of any violence.