The sight of a young girl in the street, impoverished by Destiny but with a sparkling eye, never fails to move an empathetic spectator. It is not her fault that she is forced to beg and go her way during the first years of life. She rarely entered the much-vaunted portals of an educational institution. However, with the flattening of the social curve thanks to the Internet, she dreams of the day when the world, or at least her city, will be at her feet.
Many underprivileged girls aspire to become a fighter pilot, policewoman, doctor or badminton champion, but society and its ever-distorted inequalities rarely allow her to give wings to her dreams. There are several insurmountable contingencies that she must fight, scale, and conquer before she can even get any closer to achieving her goals.
The pandemic has made the situation even worse. Female students around the world have been pulled from schools by parents from disadvantaged sections of society. The pandemic-induced sense of hopelessness has undermined the ambitions of millions of young people and forced them to settle for lower rungs on the ladder of success. Moreover, even today it is a very common practice all over India to ‘marry’ teenage girls as early as possible. They must therefore be content with pots and pans instead of pens and keyboards, throughout their lives. Many other centuries-old customs still prevail, to the detriment of the levels at which women should be able to lead their lives.
However, India’s Nehas, Bindiyas, Manpreet and Shalinis have the talent, determination and determination to bounce back and advance in their careers. What they need is an ecosystem that allows them to compete for merit and that does not stifle their aspirations in their early years.
There are quite a few steps that need to be taken by our nation in order to facilitate their flight into the skies. I list a few here. I’m sure there are many more that thought leaders can come up with. The key is to make them happen and not allow them to be left to talk about on their own.
1. Educational Improvements: In order for girls (as well as boys) to really learn what they need in our schools and colleges, educator training levels and basic infrastructure, even toilets, need to be dramatically improved. Easier said than done, but significant budget prioritization will at least ensure progress.
2. Entrepreneurship Incentives: Women-led start-ups need a major boost as they find themselves helpless and penniless every time they look to start their businesses. Mentoring workshops and grants will do the trick to some extent, provided they are meticulously followed.
3. Cottage industries: rural women are extremely good at producing ethnic clothing and quality food products that can be marketed across the country; if only the relevant government agencies would advise and assist them diligently.
4.Sports accelerators: female sportswomen have displayed their prowess on international and even Olympic platforms in recent years. If the number of women sportswomen participating in competitions in all formats, in all sports, were to be doubled or tripled, the “capture” of talented sportswomen would guarantee the production of many more champions.
5. Societal Adjustment: Our biggest celebrities need to spend more time and effort promoting national causes like empowering women instead of modeling for gimmicks! A sustained awareness campaign through electronic and social media will bring about real changes in attitudes that currently prevent girls from reaching higher levels.
Thousands of young Indian women have made their mark in defense, civil service, aviation, corporate careers, academics and sports over the past decades. But to enable them to live fearlessly in order to freely pursue their passions, there is still a lot to be done.
Why should a young girl hesitate when leaving her home to study or work because prying eyes won’t let her be herself? Once we allow our young women to just be themselves and express themselves in all fields of activity, even the sky will no longer be their limit!