This Sunday, when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised concerns about the declining sex ratio in India, he addressed something not very new, but very serious. Issues related with circumstances faced by women in India, especially in the rural parts, is much more complex that we discuss on the social media or “chai ki thari”. The current status of women is an outcome of hundreds of years of cultural overlaps, geographical dissimilarities, religious interventions and conflicting social equations. The issue becomes more complex when the female treatment changes astronomically within very close diaspora, for example while some girls compete with boys in high-paying jobs in Gurgaon, some others are not allowed to use mobile phones in nearby villages of Haryana; or while some girls freely talk about liberty in bars of Kolkata, some others are not allowed to remove “ghunghat” or “hizab” in nearby villages of Bihar.
We can have perpetual discussions and debates to arrive at a solution or sets of solutions, but at the end of the day, all the utilitarian solutions would have to satisfy some legal frameworks and psychological structures. While forcing rules to “respect women” may trigger unintended hatred against women (like we see for seats reserved for women), neglecting it on the fate of evolution may gulp thousands of females (like how the silence of people against ISIS captured women is consuming women)
Selfie with daughter may not be the best way to empower women, but it is certainly a good idea. It doesn’t require parents to force their opinions on others or praise her due to some strict rules, but at the same time it indirectly prompts parents to realize that feeling proud of their daughters can make their daughters feel empowered. However, some aspects can’t be cornered.
- The social media campaign should reach rural areas, where internet penetration is not great, else it may die like a superficial act.
- Uploading pictures of girls may expose them to online sexual predators
It would be too early to comment on overall impacts of such campaigns, but we can be hopeful that such campaigns will supplement initiatives like “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” and the girl investment scheme. Even if these hashtags sound like a silly fad, they will be certainly instrumental in carving a better society in the longer run. We have already witnessed similar evolutions – initiated like a social buzz – changing views of people on racial, homosexual or regional jokes.