One day after International Women’s Day, which has its roots in movements in early 20th century for women’s rights to work, freedom and emancipation, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination, this is an opportune moment to stop, reflect on whether this Armageddon of development and social change is representative of this struggle. The model of development as we see around us- is this what we as women and men desire, what we deserve, does it create equal opportunities and spaces across spheres of life- at home, on the street, in work-places, factories, farms, in schools, markets, health centres, in Gram Sabha, Legislative Assemblies and the Parliament? Can we say that all these institutions are pro-women, pro-people and if not, are they moving towards it? If we ignore, sideline and worse abuse and assault on our women, what kind of society and nation are we building, what are we handing down to our future generations?
Understandably, not all of us can deal with these questions all the time, in every sphere of our lives. But if some of us address this, at some points, give some thought, feel restless, agitated, write, discuss, share with others, it could add up to something substantial. Large political movements and civil society agitations are often fuelled by few persons who believe in a better, more equitable, more harmonious world, and this can grow to reach the quantum, required for change.
As a group of professionals who bring in a range of skills and knowledge to meet the needs of the social development sector, we at New Concept, subscribe to this. We have a bird’s eye view of development through a variety of initiatives at the level of the government, civil society, grassroots communities and we can see the potential of these to create an engendered society that is sensitive and harmonious as much as it is growth-oriented. The team at Jai Shankar Memorial Centre (JMC) that works to empower poor communities in pockets of Delhi with education, skill-building, cultural activities and linkage with government schemes, is an equal partner and shares this vision.
As a professional group, we may not have the luxury of focusing on women’s empowerment alone or be able to plough all our resources into it. But at the same time, we have the advantage of consciously upholding it and pushing this core issue within our two institutions, across our project areas, client base, proposals, outreach programmes and field work. By doing this, we believe we are contributing to a society that will be harmonious and just.