Back to news
6 Mar 2020 | Gender in Koshi

Thinking beyond Each for Equal

Vishwas S. Chitale

3 mins Read

70% Complete

When I opened the newspaper in early February, a news article immediately caught my eye – “India’s top court orders equal roles for women in army”. First of all, I was quite surprised to learn that this was happening for the first time in India – the largest democracy in the world. Then I began to think about all the other professions where there are hardly any women in top positions. And most importantly, how much of the decision-making power do these women have? The answer is “negligible” – most likely because we do not acknowledge the importance of being inclusive and involving all genders in the decision-making processes.

In the Indian Army, women were allowed to opt for combat roles only very recently, with sexist perceptions barring their entry. However, in a historic moment that broke stereotypes, the all-men contingent during this year’s Republic Day parade was led by Capt. Tanya Shergill. This was a ray of hope, a symbolic act of women’s empowerment that we all should observe, acknowledge, and nurture. This is a decade of action, so we should commit ourselves to bringing “Each for Equal” into practice.

With this thought, I began to reflect upon the women who have played important roles in my life. The first, of course, is my mother, who is a homemaker and played an important role in shaping my life. Whatever I am today is completely because of her confidence in me and her constant guidance, which boosted my own confidence to face any failure or difficulty in life. My father and mother frequently have discussions where she expresses her thoughts very openly. This makes me think about her equal footing in the relationship and in our family’s decision making.

Another strong woman in my life was my MSc professor late Dr. Vrushali Deosthali, who was a trailblazing pioneer who inspired countless women and men, me included. She worked relentlessly to receive approval for the very first MSc course on remote sensing and GIS in Maharashtra. Very few universities in India offered such a course in the early 2000s. Prof. Deosthali and her team worked hard to initiate courses for our first batch of MSc Geoinformatics in Pune University. She was an important representative for women in the STEM field in India, playing a crucial role in taking India’s space science to the next level. While completing her studies in remote sensing, she was the only woman in a batch of 30 students. Understanding the importance of women’s involvement in STEM, she pushed for equal gender representation in our batch.

My grandmother was also a great influence in my life. She was a freedom fighter who followed the Gandhian philosophy and spent several years in jail for opposing the government during the British rule in India. Whenever she came out of jail, she would rejoin the movement to oust the British rule. When I used to hear stories from her about those days, I always wanted to live in that era to see my grandmother in action. My grandfather, who was also a freedom fighter, used to say, “When it came to combat, she was no less than us men.” She was rewarded with a memento in the early 1980s by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, for her active role in India’s struggle for independence. If women fought shoulder to shoulder with men to secure India’s independence, why did it take so long for independent India to give them their rightful place in the armed forces?

We have to acknowledge the fact that women have not been given equal opportunities, and we must act to close this gap. The first International Women’s Day was observed almost 100 years ago in 1911, but actual progress in achieving gender equality has been very sluggish. I think we should go beyond the “Each for Equal” push; we should be aiming for “better for equal”. There should be better opportunities for women to lead, better efforts to bring this in action, better inclusiveness to inculcate this thought, and better acceptance of the reality of inequality and the need for change.

8 Mar 2019 Gender in Koshi
Breaking Taboos: My Parents’ Stand for Gender Equality

Growing up, our sense of the world – all that is right in it and all that is wrong – ...

30 Jan 2017 Gender in Koshi
The road ahead for Nepal’s water management

In the Lohajar VDC of Saptari district, in Nepal’s floodplains, Gopal Khatiwada plays a key role in developing and implementing ...

20 Feb 2019 RMS
Kalchebesi, a Climate Resilient Village in the Making

Empowering Women to Improve Agricultural Practices Building socio-economic resilience is at the core of the RMS concept and gender is an ...

27 Jul 2018 Blog
Climate resilient value-chain: Preparing for a better future

After traveling a long distance, participants from Sundamunda and Godani arrived excited and eager to see sketches and drawings on ...

11 Sep 2017 Gender in Koshi
Why China should Include a Gender Perspective in its Climate Change Policies

In Haitang, off-farm wage labour outside the community has, for some years, been an important income-generating strategy. As the drought ...

1 Oct 2016 Blog
Temperature as a comfort indicator for Delhi’s citizens

The phenomenon of temperature rise in urban centers, has gained attention in the recent decades. Known as the Urban Heat ...

8 Mar 2018 Blog
Musings from Venus—A Collection of Thoughts

Of Shampoos and Conditioning< The first shock came when I ended up right at the back of the line in the ...

14 Mar 2017 Blog
Mountain women as agents of change

“At first I was afraid about having to come here by myself. But now I am happy with my decision. ...