‘Women empowerment doesn’t mean ‘idolizing’ women, it means bringing gender parity’: Criminal Pyschologist, Anuja Kapur
Anushruti Singh March 7, 2020
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India is a land where goddesses are the representation of Shakti – the feminine source of power in the universe. But, in reality, the identity of women gets challenged at every level. In the patriarchal society, she is often burdened with unfair expectations.
Women are still undergoing shortcomings of gender imbalance, gender parity, and discrimination at certain level – even as the world enter in the next decade of the century.
The society is still dealing with gruesome crimes against women, sexual harassments, domestic violence etc. Though the legal processes guarantee security and equal opportunities for women, the reality can sometimes be harsh for victims and other people associated.
As per the data released in late 2019 by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), around 3,59,849 crime cases against women were registered in 2017. In 2016, the cases were 3,38,954 while in 2015 the number of registered cases were 3,29,243. The data shows that crimes are just surging every year, while talks of women empowerment are everywhere.
However, on the other side of the scene, some women – despite societal challenges – are excelling in every field that one can think of today. Women today are creating difference and changing the society by raising voices.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, SMEFutures.com talks to one of the leading criminal psychologist and social activist Anuja Kapur. The founder of an NGO ‘Nirbhiya Ek Shakti’, Kapur talks about various issues concerning women.
In 2020, what does it means to be empowered? Has the meaning of ‘women empowerment’ changed?
A very true response here would be that an empowered person is someone who has the power and the ability to make choices that are truly free. But in the case of women, the scenario gets a different perspective.
The day we don’t have to talk about women empowerment will be the day when we achieve real women empowerment. Women empowerment, today, applies to liberation of women from the evil grasp of societal, economical, governmental, status and gender-based discrimination.
To me, empowerment can be grand or small gestures, thoughts or words that elevate you and/or others to a deeper understanding, greater heights, and a happier, peaceful, and productive life.
It directly instruments in enabling the women freedom to make life choices on their own terms. Women empowerment need not mean to ‘idolize women’ rather it applies to bringing parity between genders.
How you are encouraging women empowerment in your organization? What are the initiatives that you are taking to change the lives of women in need?
In my profession, I am doing my bit by providing whatever I can within my reach to the girls and women, who need justice and counselling to lead a more content life. Besides working as a psychologist, I am a social entrepreneur. I have founded an NGO, called ‘Nirbhiya Ek Shakti’ – which is the centre for victim assistance.
It aids all the victims in form of counselling, legal aid, vocational courses, and rehabilitation, irrespective of age and caste. Nirbhiya Ek Shakti also aims to work for all the victims and help them to live back their normal lives.
It is not only for women victims; I have my doors open for male victims as well as I strongly believe in gender equality.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual. How important is equality for women in business?
In my opinion, #EachforEqual is a very resounding theme for this year’s International Women’s day. We all can agree here that if we need a country to be a developed nation, we need both male and female in the workforce to be equally respected. It is high time women are paid their dues in the professional sector. All businesses have women involved these days but somehow, they are paid less for the same amount of work done by their male counterparts.
It is important to reach parity on the salary level as it is a factor that demotivates most women to do more. Gender stereotypes are hard to break but still as a developing nation, we need to rise above the stereotypes and recognize the quality and not the gender for calculation of remuneration.
What needs to be done to change and to create a gender equal world?
Women are under constant pressure with company restructuring, lack of managerial support, and lastly, balancing work and family life – leaving them feeling drained.
To create a gender equal world, firstly we need to respect human beings equally and not pick genders for it. Be it for the family or on the professional front, women do a lot but are not respected for the same. Women also need to put a firm step forward against this stereotype.
They need to have a firm grip over the laws and rights made available to them. Even the top officials should make sure women have more flexible working, equal pay, better career security and progression.
Even after Nirbhaya and #Metoo movement, the ratio of sexual assaults on women are only growing. Also, social media platforms are playing a role to highlight such cases at a mass level. Why is it that, despite such awareness, crimes are not going down…also, victims and witnesses are not safe?
The system more often than not has failed to provide justice. The reason that even after so much media attention the sexual assaults are not decreasing is that justice is either delayed or never attained. The laws we have in our country are confusing and tiresome.
Victims and witnesses usually bear the brunt physically, mentally and financially by dragging themselves to the court or the police for daily procedure. A direct victim assistance with proper implementation needs to be described for a smoother experience of the victims.
Does the Indian criminal justice system need urgent/stringent reforms?
Yes, that is the real need of the hour. We need laws that can help and assure victims an efficient and faster fight for justice. We need better investigations, trials and more judges to clear the huge backlog of pending cases. The common people need to be comfortable with the system, and not the other way round.
What is your opinion of new age media platforms, and media portrayal of women of India? What’s the impact? If it’s negative, what needs to be done?
The answer here depends on every individual – some fight for the truth and some for personal benefits. So, in my opinion, the answer here will be that all media platforms and journalists need to be true to their job and show things as they are. People need to work for the major good – working from ground zero.
As a women entrepreneur, how do you manage the work-life balance?
My job is such where I have to work eighteen hours a day at times, but still, I guess I am doing a pretty decent job in balancing the work and life. All the credit here goes to my family, who I have the complete support from. I also try and unplug every now and then to spend as much time possible and get to know what has been up lately with them.
- Fitness mantra – yoga and positive psychology
- De-stressing mantra – bringing a smile on the face of an underprivileged
- 5 essentials in your bag – pen, mobile, mouth freshener, hand sanitizer and family picture
- Favourite book/books – ‘The Secret’ and ‘The man’s search for meaning’
What’s in your bucket list ?
Sky diving; writing a book using the experience I have gained throughout my career; support a cause that is important through donations and volunteering; and, finally to visit all seven wonders of the world.