Women have been part of the backbone of change and development in this country for as far as one can trace back in history. While they have had to fight their way up at every single stop, it is quite disturbing to witness the baseless struggles that women continue to be subjected to, given the current state of empowerment we believe we’ve rightly earned.
To me, the glaring statistics presented with regard to child marriage in Bihar, only reiterate the difference I’ve always held between being ‘Literate’ and ‘Educated’. One of the long standing problems that this country is yet to find a solution to is a kind of stereotyping in the name of culture and tradition that has unfortunately been misrepresented under various circumstances and has not managed to undergo any positive form of evolution. It doesn’t help if a girl child in Bihar is taught to read and write when the practical education she’s going to receive from her societal setup is to obey what the family dictates, marriage being a part of the package.
So, the first step I would take in a ‘Ring The Bell’ gesture would be to create awareness about the difference ‘practical education’ can bring and sharpen the objective for the process. It is imperative that people first understand that there is a glaring problem, for them to be willing to work towards a solution. The parents of every girl child should be made to feel responsible for their ward as an asset and not as a liability warranting quick profitable disposal. A phenomenal change in attitude is called for.
Step two would be to create more exposure to the outside world, a term I use here loosely to denote the rest of India in comparison to the cocoon that girls in Bihar seem to be tied to. A systematic education program can be included as part of schooling, to talk to female students about opportunities available, what they are capable of. They can be given material to read, watch and listen, on women achievers from around the world and quite simply on urban women who juggle work, family and ambitions every single day. They need to be made aware of the physical and emotional trouble that child marriage can bring in and counseled towards realizing their potential, taking responsibility for their own lives and making informed choices.
Step three would be to make noise. The cause could be projected as a brand and pushed forward to the common man, effort dedicated towards making people talk about it to a sufficient degree that Bihar would have no other choice but to sit up and take notice. The recent spot fixing issue has proved only too well how strong a wave of reaction we can create as a country of people together. For once, we could put our rage to better use. This article is my two cents and one voice, feeble as may be.
Let’s ring that bell and bring about a necessary change.