International Women's Day: Agra ranks high in women representation in politics
As the world celebrates the International Women's Day, the city of Taj reflects the strong representation women have received in leading this city in different fields. Although a number of women have been successful in making their mark in the socio-political scenario of Agra, this number still needs to grow when compared to the number of men in this field.
The city's municipal corporation is not the only place which can boast of an over 33 per cent representation given to women in the corporation assembly, with 35 women elected this year as corporators, out of a total 100 seats. Even the UP assembly has 2 women MLAs from Agra out of total 9 MLAs in all. The village panchayats fare much better with 232 women out of a total of 695 panchayat members. A look at the ration cards, 6.63 lakh women are heads of their families in the city, while more than 100 women are running NGOs in the district.
Acid attack victims of Agra have earned worldwide acclaim, when they opened a cafe in Agra, called the 'Sheroes Cafe'. The courage and willpower of the women impressed the then UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav so much that he promised full rehabilitation assistance to acid-attack victims in every district of the state. Female biker Pallavi Fauzdar is making Agra proud of her exploits all over the country and now, even rural women are creating history in Agra.
But, the challenges faced by women are not easy. Domestic violence cases are on the rise in the city and every day, 10-15 cases of molestation are reported to the Women Power Line by women. Several young women, including a female journalist, have taken to social media to reveal the identities of the men who molested them on the road, but the level of action against the perpetrators of these crimes is very disheartening.
This year, 27 cases of dowry murders have been reported so far in Agra.
Another aspect, related to sensitization of the civic authorities towards female health and sanitation issues is still unrealized. Female toilets are totally absent from all markets of Agra, over 70 women are losing their lives giving birth in the city and a significant number of young girls are deprived of even the basic sanitation requirements in Agra.
But in the midst of all disappointments, there are some women who act like beacons for others to follow. Arifa Shabnam, a 45-year-old blind woman, is one of them. Born blind, Arifa teaches over 60 blind students in a residential school which she runs by herself, without taking any government aid.
Talking to India Today, Shabnam said that she may not have seen light in her life, but she still wants to spread the light of knowledge among her students. She refuses to treat her blindness as her weakness and says that she has taken higher education from Kanpur University and worked as a music teacher in a government school. Her school has been shifted to a new location on the Agra-Delhi highway recently.
Dr. Ranjna Bansal, who also holds the distinction of being the only female dealer for Tata Motors in India, is also a practicing gynecologist, having received a medical degree in the United States. Following the death of her brother in a road accident, she adopted his daughter and raised her as her own. Active in a number of social organizations besides running her own NGO, Dr. Bansal is a shining star among the city's female leaders.