Women need equality and respect
To both rejoice and inspire womanhood, the world celebrates the International Women’s Day, every year on 8th March. But in the midst of all the din of the celebrations there is a deep silence that fails to gather voice. It is these silent spaces that need to be given a voice. Irrespective of the part of the planet they occupy, women are confronted with issues of gender rights, violence, and crime everyday. Globally, the ICRC has been closely engaging with women affected by armed conflicts. But on this International Women’s Day, we, at the Regional Delegation in New Delhi, stepped into the women’s world in a slightly different way and spoke to some of our women colleagues who shared their experiences as working women.
“Over the last ten years at the ICRC, we have thought and have a very strong conviction to have a mixed team in terms of gender. At the ICRC, the top management team is 50% men and 50% women and we understand that a mixed team is absolutely critical for improving the ability of understanding the needs, the problems and the specificities of the people whom we are trying to help.”
Yves Daccord, Director-General,
ICRC during his recent trip to India
While the short interviews conducted with them at the delegation, sailed through different issues, one clear message that defined the commonality was about the need of more space for women in society. Insisting that only a multidimensional transformation can improve the scenario of gender inequality, K.C Sowmya, Legal Adviser said that, “just a reservation policy or talking about equality at home will not begin the process. For this systematic problem to go, the change has to happen at the societal, economic and political level.”
Commenting on how greater awareness among women about their rights and how laws to defend them can be instrumental in a positive change, Poonam Mishra, Water and Habitat Coordinator said, “because of high levels of illiteracy, the understanding of gender rights varies substantially as per the place, education and status of women in society. Moreover, the percentage of Indian women who would know about the various laws to defend their gender rights is very low, so there is an urgent need to better this scenario”.
In certain societal set-ups, it is unfortunate yet evident that a woman has to put in extra efforts to prove a point. And it is true not just in the Indian context but in many countries across the planet. Establishing it further more, with her own story, Marie-Jesus Otaegui, Corporate Purchaser said, “ I started at the ICRC with an all-men logistics team, back in 1998, in Kenya. It was very challenging but my biggest pride, after being in the department for three years, was my boss demanding more women in the team. He had realized the added value of having women in the team and how a gender balance was key to better tackling a problem and finding solutions.”
Be it at work, on the streets or at home, in more ways than one, the diverse voices restated that women in our society deserve and are increasingly demanding more equality and respect in every sphere of life.
With my roots in Tibet and having lived my life as a refugee, helping and supporting people in my community, I find an element of connect to what the ICRC does on the ground. And perhaps that’s the reason why I have relished my every moment here for the last 14 years.
Migmar Tsamchoe, Receptionist, ICRC New Delhi
Step out and lead the change. That is the way to alter the typical patriarchal mindset. The feeling of being the weaker sex has to get replaced with inner empowerment.
Roshni Choudhry, Head of Chancellery, ICRC New Delhi
For the dream of a new and prosperous India to get real, the contribution and importance of women in every sphere has to be recognized by society.
Sunita Chatterjee, Production Officer, ICRC New Delhi
India’s journey to a gender equitable society is certainly a long and arduous one. I am not sure if there is one single map to this journey but I am optimistic enough to believe that it is possible.
Supriya Rao, Legal Adviser, ICRC New Delhi