Published On:09 November 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

'Indian Muslim Women remain unrepresented and unheard even after 60 years of Independence'

By Dr. Shabistan Gaffar

Sixty years after independence also the Indian Muslim women have remained unrepresented and unheard. The Sachar Committee appointed by the Prime Minister established the fact of poverty and socio-economic exclusion of the largest minority in recent decades. Although the report is sympathetic to Muslim women, it does not have detailed analysis of the condition and issues faced by them. Women in every community are victim of neglect, discrimination and some of the other form of injustice. This is true for Muslim women too. However, as has been pointed out by many perceptive observers, Muslim women constitute “Minority within minority”. The lot of the poorer section of Muslim women is far worse.

In today's fast changing society the rights of women is at stake and their position has become very much vulnerable. The balance between the rights of women and its protection and her family and social responsibilities is totally disturbed. Women have to play role in society, family and country. They are to be made to fulfil the responsibilities as daughter, sister, mother, wife, daughter in law and as a citizen of the country.

If we talk about overall empowerment of women in India, since the country became independent in 1947, the democratic government has tried to introduce measures to empower women, yet the expected measure of success has not occurred due to reasons like, bureaucratic delays, political compulsions, social and cultural constraints and the continuing poverty of the masses. Obtaining some measures of economic self sufficiency and independence is prerequisite to any advancement of women at social, cultural and political level.

The silver lining in the cloudy sky has been the development of several grass roots movements initiated by women themselves, especially those from the lower section of society.

No, less important than the government’s initiatives are society own mutually caring and cooperative actions which strengthen the ethos of social harmony and inter-dependence, exclusive thinking, exclusive concerns and excessive reliance on exclusive policies can never lead to inclusive development. Much less will it promote social and national integration, which must form the bed rode of both government and societal effort for inclusive development.

Yet another shortcoming in the debate and governmental and action that followed the Sachar report is that the problems and concerns of Muslim women have been largely bypassed. Grossly inadequate attention has been paid to the condition of Muslim women, their socio-economic and educational backwardness, and the efforts needed to bring them into nation’s development mainstream.

Muslims lag behind in education which is largely responsible for most of the problems faced by the community. If women of the community are educated, things would change as women are the axis of Indian families. Muslim women could reform the whole family moreover this will help her in protection of her rights and controlling crimes against women.

The educational and economic backwardness in which community lives make it necessary for policy makers to take urgent steps to alleviate this condition. The greater of multiple exclusion of women calls for a thorough analysis leading to understanding of their need and issues followed by multi-prolonged action to make a change the destination is equal citizenship of Muslim women in principle and in reality as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The recent census of India has brought out a positive fact about the sex ration in the Muslim community being better than most other socio-religious communities. There is need to build further on this positive trend by paying equal attention to the education of girls and health and nutrition for the girl children and the mothers.

Apart from health care and nutrition, girls need opportunities for higher education, they need safety and security in order to access education of their choice. They need support and encouragement at home and in the community to realize their full potential as human beings. It calls for policy measures and financial allocations by the government apart from a supportive atmosphere in the family. Educated and empowered girls can be the change agents for an empowered community in the future. Social empowerment in general and women empowerment in particular is very fundamental in achieving such kind of goals.

Territory education is especially important so that women can move into positions of political, economical and social leadership. It is well known that Muslim women are home based working women, the Sachar Committee too endorsed this finding. There are women who missed out on education opportunities but are nevertheless working informally and out of homes. They work for very low wages and often in hazardous activities like beedi making and other activities posing hazard to eyes, lungs and skin.

They mostly underpaid or unpaid and exploited by middlemen. These women need support, mechanism at multiple levels beginning with skill training, skill upgradation, marketing support and financial support etc.

In fact, the voluntary organizations and experts faces lot of challenges in their work for empowerment of Muslim women. The work must happen at various levels, apart from continuous advocacy and campaigning for governmental accountability. They face the challenge of correcting and building understanding and perspective in the community society.

[Dr. Shabistan Gaffar is Chairperson, Committee on Girls Education,National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions,Government of India. She can be contacted at committeeongirlseducation@gmail.com]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on November 09, 2013. Filed under , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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