International Women's Day 2019: "Biggest hurdle on the way to gender equality is patriarchal mindset," says Kamla Bhasin
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International Women’s Day 2019: “Biggest hurdle on the way to gender equality is patriarchal mindset,” says Kamla Bhasin

Gender activist, author and poet Kamla Bhasin is perhaps India’s most renowned developmental feminist activist who has worked for over four decades in fields of women’s rights, human development, peace and democracy. She currently works with Sangat, a burgeoning network of South Asian feminists and is also the South Asia coordinator for the One Billion Rising campaign.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Newsd had the privilege of speaking with her about her immense body of work in this area.

Path to bring the change might not be easy but it’s not impossible

“Struggles are the part of life but keep boosting and laughing in the hard times is what makes us women,” says social activist Kamla Bhasin. She believes that the path to bring change is not that easy but its  not impossible either.

Speaking about the change in the society towards women empowerment, Bhasin said that it would be no wrong to say that change has come over the time. Today if we see, women are aware of their rights. Families have started considering the girls of the house in matter of property distribution. And not just domestic rights, but women are aware of their rights outside the four wall such as political rights.

“However, the battle is not over. We have a long way to go in order to bridge the gap and bring women on the same platform of the men.”

Also read: Indian women earn 19% less than men: Report

Biggest hurdle on the way to gender equality is ‘Patriarchal Mindset’ 

Kamala Bhasin believes that comparatively constitution has given women the equal rights and respect but it is the mindset of the people of our society which is biggest hurdle on the way to gender equality.

According to her religion, traditions, customs and social structure promote patriarchy. “Our culture binds women. Teej festival of Hindus teaches a wife to worship her husband.”

Kamla sees the Hindi word for husband – ‘Pati’ in a different manner. She says, “In the word Pati, there is a glimpse of the existence of the master, such as ‘crorepati’ – who own hundreds of crores. She says the woman is not a slave of anyone.

Also read: Women’s Day special: Ladies rule cockpit with 12% female commercial pilots from India, highest in world

“Beti Dill Me, Beti Will Me”

Kamla Bhasin believes that the step for gender equality shall begin from home. For the same, Bhasin and her organisation has started the ‘Beti Dill Me, Beti Will Me’ campaign which spreads the message and awareness of daughter’s right in family property.

Bhasin has also started a campaign ‘Sharing of Unpaid Work’, under which, Kamala proposes while we teach the women to become independent and self sufficient to face the world outside of the four walls, it is necessary to teach men about the world inside the house. While women take the reprehensibility on the field, men must take the responsibility of the unpaid work at home. On one hand where women is learning to fly the plane, it is important for men to learn cook for themselves.

Kamla Bhasin’s advice to all  Women: Education is the key to self-reliance

Kamala advises all women to be self-sufficient so that they never have to suffer the exploitation of others. She says that “unless we are strong, we will not be able to raise voice for our rights. If you have to fight injustice, then acquire knowledge.”

She believes that girls can do anything in today’s era.

(Kamla Bhasin is conversation with Sonia Yadav)

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