Make International Women’s Day your day – everyday

-Sri Manik CS Bordoloi

International Women’s Day 2019 is approaching on the 8th March instant. International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance. In India, we are celebrating IWD, since it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations. Women have come a long way, yet there is still more to be achieved. The campaign theme this year to celebrate women’s achievements removing gender bias is “BalanceforBetter” with a step by step planning to do everything possible to help forge a more gender-balanced world. Let’s build a gender-balanced world. Balance should be a business issue in our society. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage and so on. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.
There are many examples of achievement adorned by women in different fields of work. Let us name the five most successful women in the world; they are Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Hillary Clinton, Presidential candidate of the United States; Melinda Gates, Co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Janet Yellen, Chairperson of the Federal Reserve of the United States; and Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. In Indian context, we can name Indra Nooyi, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman of Pepsico, the second largest food and beverage business in the world; Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon Limited (a biotechnology company based in Bangalore) and also the chairperson of Indian Institute of Management Bangalore; Padma Bhushan Indu Jain, Chairperson of Times Group; and Ekta Kapoor, the Queen of soap opera, founder of Balaji Films. And in the context of Northeast India, Abokali Jimomi, founder of Organic Nagaland; Rakhi Saikia, ambitious entrepreneur with Yellow tea fame from Borpathar, Assam; Lakhimi Baruah, founder of Konoklota Mahila Urban Cooperative Bank (KMUCB) in Assam; Leena Saikia, founder of ‘Frontal Agritech Private Limited’ with Bhoot Jalokia fame from Jorhat; Janessaline Mary Pyngrope, Fashion designer cum entrepreneur from Meghalaya; Basamlu Krisikro, ‘Tea Lady’ from Arunachal Pradesh; Tanushree Hazarika, Managing Director of the magazine ‘Ecelctic Northeast’ and luncher of the Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival and Tattva Creations; Archita Ray, the lone woman entrepreneur of the first private hatchery of Tripura; Hekani Jakhalu, social entrepreneur from Nagaland and the founder of the YouthNet; Hasina Kharbhih, social entrepreneur, founder and chairperson of Impulse NGO Network in Meghalaya; Sanjukta Dutta, designer from Nagaon, Assam earning national and international acclaim with ‘Mekhala Chador’; Nisha Bora, encore and an associate in Elrhino, working in paper making from shino’s dung; Sanjukta Parashar, Iron lady of Assam, first woman having been appointed as an IPS officer in Assam; Temsutula Imsong, Co-founder of Sakaar Sewa Samiti. Temsutula, Nagaland, well known for cleaning the Varanasi Ghats in just three days under Mission Prabhu Ghat; Alana Golmei, Alana Golmei is fighting discrimination in major Indian cities against people from Northeastern states, with her private helpline for Northeastern people called the North East Support Centre and Helpline (NESCH) runs NESCH on a voluntary model. In agricultural sector, Nabanita Das, Patiagaon, Jorhat earns National fame for integrated Organic Farming and Deepika Rabha, Goalpara as well.
But the scenario is different in rural situations. In India, the percentage of women who depend on agriculture for their livelihood is as high as 84%. Women make up about 33% of cultivators and about 47% percent of agricultural labourers. Women’s participation rate in the agricultural sectors is about 47% in tea plantations, 46.84% in cotton cultivation, 45.43% growing oil seeds and 39.13% in vegetable production. While these crops require labor-intensive work, the work is considered quite unskilled. Women also heavily participate in ancillary agricultural activities as well. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Indian women represented a share of 21% and 24% of all fishers and fish farmers, respectively. Despite their dominance of the labor force, women in India still face extreme disadvantage in terms of pay, land rights, and representation in local farmers organizations. Furthermore, their lack of empowerment often results in negative externalities such as lower educational attainment for their children and poor familial health. In India, the typical work of the female agricultural laborer or cultivator is limited to less skilled jobs, such as sowing, transplanting, weeding and harvesting, that often fit well within the framework of domestic life and child-rearing. Many women also participate in agricultural work as unpaid subsistence labor. According to United Nations Human Development Report only 32.8% of Indian women formally participate in the labour force, a rate that has remained steady since 2009 statistics. By comparison, men constitute 81.1%. An estimated 52-75% of Indian women engaged in agriculture are illiterate, an education barrier that prevents women from participating in more skilled labour sectors. In all activities there is an average gender wage disparity, with women earning only 70 percent of men’s wage. Additionally, many women participate in agricultural work as unpaid subsistence labour. The lack of employment mobility and education render the majority of women in India vulnerable, as dependents on the growth and stability of the agricultural market.
In the circumstances, let us plan how to run International Women’s Day and amplify it throughout the year. Firstly, let us identify our goals. We, in Krishak Bandhu, want to achieve awareness raising; challenging bias; influencing behaviour; and celebrating women’s achievements. Secondly, let us identify our audience. We want to reach rural communities; students; employees; customers; general public; government; constituents; the media; etc. Lastly, let us decide what we can do. We may undertake activities like running an event; launching a project or initiative; delivering female-focused activity; activating a marketing campaign; developing resources; running social media posts; etc.

#BalanceforBetter #IWD2019
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