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“Knowledge is the key – widow empowerment”
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“Knowledge is the key – widow empowerment”

Tradition and superstition are hurting opportunity for widows, writes Amit Jain, 26, a Correspondent from Pune, India, who argues that access to education will allow widows to support themselves and their families. 

Many scholars, leaders and famous personalities have said, “Knowledge is Power”. Yes, indeed knowledge is power, which can unleash a lot of possibilities in today’s world and this generation.

Yet, traditionally, some people thought education was a threat to society. Free thinking and broad mindedness were seen as ills and were not accepted. Superstitions towards women, especially widows, played a major role in shaping society’s thinking. Widows in particular have long been disadvantaged in many cases. The death of her husband is as difficult for her as it is for the family. While coping with accepting the death of her husband, she is also forced to bear the brunt of a society that blames her for a circumstance that was not of her fault or doing.

Due to lack of literacy and availability of accessible knowledge, these traditional misconceptions about widows have spread their wings in today’s generation as well. More than half of the people in Indian society do not have proper access to knowledge and learning, and the country has a disturbingly high illiteracy rate that is ranked among the worst in the world. Hence, superstitions with their roots deep in the past are bound to grow and continue their influence.

Narrow-mindedness and belief in superstitions has hurt the prospects of women. Widows have been suffering because their husbands died. Some tribes still call widows “Witch”, because they hold the women responsible for ‘killing’ their husbands. Superstition has become ingrained in society like breathing; it has become our daily involuntary action.

Knowledge is the only weapon that can do away with the problem. When we are aware of the situation around us, when we are aware of our rights, we can fight for ourselves against any adversity.

Women have the right to education. Women need to be educated. No one in this society multitasks better than a woman. She can learn and still have the time for making her household a dream world. A woman, in particular a widow, is keen to become independent and self-sufficient so that she can provide for her children and stand in front of the society as an example of change.

Widows are strong human beings. Speaking from my personal experience, I have seen many widows fighting for their rights and for their way of life. They bore children and they raise them on their own. They face the scorn of society and still find the strength to go on every day all on their own. Educating a widow is giving her the power to affect change, maybe on a small scale, but she will be able to do it. Education and giving the power of knowledge to a woman is not only beneficial to society, it is in turn responsible for the positive effect on the generations to come.

As an advocate for empowering widows, I find knowledge to be a vital key that can change our society and give widows their much-need place and acceptance in the society.

Twitter: @amitjainmkr

photo credit: Nithi clicks Indian Mother & Child via photopin (license)
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About me: I am a graduate in commerce from the University North Maharashtra. At present I am a running a NGO name Mitti Ke Rang. I am passionate about changing the way people think about widows, and about gender equality. I am also a Shaper with the Global Shapers Community and a Global Youth Ambassador – A World at School.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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