Like Pooja, who have opted driving profession of Public Bus Transport in Jammu-Kathua valley, women are now involving increasingly in both organized and unorganized public spheres of works like in businesses, offices, sports, bureaucrats, politics, international organizations and much more at public domains. But, women into public spheres had become issues since from centuries. There were debates and discussions for both openness and narrowness of spaces for women in the public. Gradually, after Charles Fourier’s coining of the term Feminism in 1937, is now becoming complex notions in context to sex, identity, role, expression, status, opportunity and challenges etc. It has been marching as an important movement and ideology of modern times. International Scholars viewed feminism in the three waves that are liberal feminism of 18th and 19th centuries, second wave during 1960s and 1990s which drew attention toward gender equality, and third wave after 1990s for representation issues.
Hitherto, Women have been mostly willing to do jobs at formal institutions but they were mostly pushed back in informal institutions at public domains. It was due to lack of decorum or proper rules and actions in unorganized sectors, uneven working culture, governed by loose jargon, and pressurised life. The solutions to existing problems are proper socialization, co-curricular and co-education where social norm, cultured, clad, discipline and role which are needed to improve.
Nari Shakti is a concept for women empowerment to create, nurture and transform. Now flip-side of the stories should also be with bright scenarios without unnecessarily subservient to any institutions. Government has set important agenda for women empowerment through schemes like PM Matru Vandana Yogana, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao programme, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, Ujjawala Yojana, Ayushman Bharat Programme, and National Nutrition Mission etc, in which women are taking benefits.
It is said that Government has facilitated numbers of measurements for equal opportunities in public level participation for women along with a supporting and safe environment for their development. Safety and security of women at all places is high on the agenda of women empowerment. The sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, the online complaint system, 181 women help lines, One Stop Centres and Panic buttons are all geared to protect women in their journey towards empowerment etc.
Women Struggles and Status in J&K
Jammu and Kashmir is important testimonial for women roles in Society. It is due to Jammu and Kashmir is composed by diverse and rough geography, socio, economic and conflict ridden society. Women in Jammu and Kashmir have proven their abilities in the hilly terrains region where everyday survival becomes Herculean task could accomplish smoothly. Socially, people are governed by traditional norms and protracted situations left women in desperate conditions. In many villages and towns one of the remarkable achievements of women are their efforts to come out from four wall of home. They involved in both formal and informal activities to home to town.
Despite several efforts, Jammu and Kashmir is also plenty of women disparities in social, economic and political level. The struggle for women’s rights has been also prevailed in Jammu and Kashmir from multi-level associations to organizations from long times. Under the Constitutional norms of 370 there were unequal citizenship rights among men and women. On 07 Oct, 2002, High Court of Jammu and Kashmir overturned the established legal position of losing permanent status for J&K women to marrying with outside. On 05 August 2019, with the removal of article 370, there were also ended of Article 35A, which was major cause of gender discrimination in J&K.
It is no doubt that leaders from Jammu and Kashmir initiated to empower women since from 1947 where women were equally effects from partitions. In Kashmir Manifesto during 1940s and after Independence education was a major demand to change the scenario. But women in most of the rural areas left with domestic works and could not effectively access to education. There had been lots of problems against women in terms of domestic violence, patriarchal society system, female foeticide and girl child marriage, but the issues have been disappeared in major social parlance. A data revealed that there were minimized roles of women from administrative structure of the state to Panchayat level works. Some of information was noticeable that there were 28 Chief Secretaries of J&K till date, nobody is female, State Accountability Commission, State Human Rights Commission, State Information Commission, none is a female, Out of 08 Administrative Secretaries of J&K nobody is a female. Till date there have had 25 Divisional Commissioners in Jammu and only one has been female. And also almost no data of Vice Chancellor, No Registrar of any University of Jammu and Kashmir has ever been a woman. Beyond the administrative systems, women in modern time still face with numerous issues.
At present, Jammu and Kashmir’s scenarios also covered with Selective abortion, female infanticide, domestic violence, status of widows, and disparity in education, dowry and bride burning which are very common in almost every place. However, almost all the old traditional problems have been disappeared gradually from the society, but women problems and issues uprising in new dimensions that are inform of offices related, promotions and ranking, preference in educations, health issues, girl child rights and misusing social media against women etc. In microscopic views, female have to perform both domestic and professional responsibilities synchronously with heavy burden, sexual harassment is more common at homes as well as in the offices by family members, relatives, neighbours, friends, boss etc.
Looking for a way forward is important contributions and solutions from every sector whether it is academia, Public institutions, civil societies, or individuals that new way of life is quintessential to facilitate, adopt and assimilate in society. Sustainable working place is required in which greater number of participation with new etiquette and new facilities are essentials in unorganized sectors which were ignored till date. For that, firstly practical implications of fundamental rights, directive principle of state policies, Implementations of Schemes and Programmes etc should be properly functionalized. Proper protection and nurture of women belonging to minority community, encouragement of Self Help Groups could remedies the challenges to the women in Jammu and Kashmir. Safety and security measurement should apply to every villages and towns.