Women Empowerment: A routine task
Daily Mirror Editorial
Mar 8, 2011

Commemorative days are lifesavers for forgetful people, who, without a loud wakeup call, do not pay heed to the happenings around them. At a time when ungratefulness has become the norm, it is a sorry sight that the media and various other advertising campaigns are being summoned to remind- the people of their responsibilities. Hence, the International Women’s Day, marked worldwide today has become more of a showcase event that provides reasons to hold discussions at five-star hotels, than an occasion to genuinely celebrate womanhood.

The standard method of marking a day is all about getting a dignitary to stand behind a podium and deliver a lengthy speech, which is far from the purpose of putting across the right message. Do the bags of dry rations distributed at such events make lives brighter for women when they are compelled to spend the rest of the days on empty stomachs?

Sadly, the interpretation of the expression ‘women empowerment’ has been twisted or exaggerated beyond recognition; the illusive term annually surfaces on a pink banner only to go back to its original place at the end of the event. The situation asks the vital question whether we are on the right path to empower women with a set of mismatched priorities.

Honestly, can women empowerment be the work of a day?

Circling a day for women has granted society an undue freedom to ignore their voice on other days. As a result, the same women who are being celebrated and commended today fall prey to discrimination, intimidation and brutal forms of abuse tomorrow. It may be true that, in Sri Lanka, women stand abreast with men and have exhibited their expertise in all fields. For instance, with a university system that contains a higher number of female students than male counterparts, one can hardly say that women in Sri Lanka are subject to gender-based segregation.

Yet, with the news, of violence, abuse and intimidation exercised against women, that frequently flood the newsrooms, one cannot concede that women’s basic right to feel safe has been assured. In fact, with the escalating number of domestic violence and rape cases, the cry for a feasible way of empowering women cannot be easily neglected. However, as urgent as it may seem, it is not a miracle that can be performed by an individual or a single organisation nor can it be done within a stipulated period.

On the surface, poverty and livelihood opportunities may seem as two major challenges faced by women whose aspirations and expectations are closely knit with those of their families. However, to strengthen their hands and enhance the safety factor, it is essential that awareness be raised on their rights and they should be educated on the protection granted by the judiciary in case of any violation of their rights. Quite contrary to the usual picture, Sri Lankan women have confidence and determination in abundant doses; it is an assurance of support and protection that are needed to put them on the forward march.

After all, it is good to have a day to celebrate womanhood on the premise that we have thrived as a nation thanks to our mothers, sisters, daughters and wives. Yet, the lifespan of women empowerment should not be just on one particular day.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka