Women and Child Development, Even though we know that we have a long way to go, we need to take a look back and appreciate how far we have come. This ship is making very little headway but two steps forward and one step backward is still one step forward. It is important to know that how much we have proceeded and what efforts remain to be made.
To Strong Women
All of us know that women’s battle with society for equality is centuries old, it is just getting more vocal these days, which is a sign of progress in itself. From treating women as equal in the Vedic period to treating them as inferiors and slaves in medieval times, the downfall happened and women to this day suffer. It was actually the later Vedic period where sati, child marriage, dasi pratha brought women down.
All of these grew and continued in the medieval age and the right to an education that women had in the Vedic period was almost completely lost. In these ages, ‘varadakshina’, now commonly known as ‘dowry’ came into the limelight. If we look at it now, people realize that the system was wrong and many laws are made against it, but as mentioned earlier, it’s headway.
Taking look at the pre-independence era during the 18th century, many women like Rani Lakshmi Bai, Jhalkari Bai, Begum Hazrat Mahal rebelled against the British East India Company, and probably countless other women whose names we’ll never know. Women here were still oppressed, but they still found their way amidst the unsupportive society.
Post-independence we got to see many female politicians leading the country. Modernization has had both positive i.e. financial and economic independence, equal opportunities, etc., and the negative i.e. molestation, rape, assault, trafficking, etc. impact on the lives of women.
Parliament has provided us with a long list of laws and acts and schemes for protecting and uplifting women and all people need to do is respect those laws and help women work and think to their full potential, just like men are allowed to. Maybe then the condition of women in India will be the same as it was in the Vedic period.
To Hopeful Children
If we start from the beginning, it was France who came up with the idea of special protection for children in the 1840s, since children were hugely impacted by World War II. Coming to India, UNICEF continues to support India for the last 70 years since its collaboration with the Indian government in 1949.
After the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) by the UN General Assembly in 1989, the fundamental rights of the children were recognized for the first time. India came along and gave a nod to these rights in 1992. Although, the juvenile justice law of 1986 was the first law to be applicable across the country for children of India.
The Indian government has come up with many laws and acts for the protection of children and people need to respect those. Unfortunately, the condition in children’s rights as of now is depleting since many children are impoverished due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all the schools are shut. Pure health, nutrition, and education problems have arisen with the lost hope of going back to normal.
Child development without mentioning Kailash Satyarthi is incomplete. He is the real hero and savior of children and has saved over 90,000 children from trafficking in India. He says, “There is no greater violence than to deny the dreams of our children”.
Women and child development have shown considerable growth from 1985, when the department of women and child development was formed to now as we know it as a ministry led by a powerful woman, Smt. Smriti Irani. A lot of changes need to be made but a lot of changes were already made for good. We are probably not even halfway there, but we will be if everyone joins their hands together in this mission of equality.