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Global problems facing women today

Brothers and Sisters of the World,

It is a great honour for me to talk about global problems of women in front of this distinguished assembly. First of all I would like to offer my profound gratitude to the government and the people of our host country, the People's Republic of China. I have had the privilege of visiting China on two previous occasions and I am a great admirer of the wisdom and culture of this great nation that I have visited.

This is, beyond my imagination, the most glorious time in the history of the world that at this time we are so much aware of the problems of women. Women as a whole have definitely suffered over the ages because we have not realised what their importance is and what their proper role is in human society. Society itself, which is her creation, tries to control or put down the womanhood.

In the East, we can say, that due to fundamentalist influence women have been under great pressure and their morality is based on fear rather than freedom. In the West they have fought for their freedom, but what they have attained is spurious freedom. The women in the West have the freedom to abandon all social and moral values. Thus in the East, we can say, that most of the women are timid, oppressed and cannot express themselves, while in the West we find most of the women are reduced to a sex symbol. They are keen to expose their body; their anxiety is to appear in fashion advertisements and very cheap popularity. Most of them accepted this position because otherwise they could not have survived in that chaotic world of the West.

What most of the women in the East would regard as very humiliating and degrading is regarded as something very glorifying in the West. I have seen both the worlds very deeply and I feel that unless and until you bring a new culture by which women from the East and women from the West can both rise in their own esteem and express themselves in such a way that they create high moral standards for their society, women neither in the East nor in the West will rise to their full stature of feminine speciality. The speciality is that if women are respected for their womanhood, understanding what they are capable of and how they can empower themselves with all the education needed, all the security will be provided to them and they will provide security to the society.

All the fundamentalists who talk of religion expect women to be absolutely moral and the men can do whatever they like. I feel we have to educate men more than women. I must admit it is not difficult to collect money for poor women in the developing countries and help them to get out of their poverty, but unfortunately, my knowledge is that the money we are collecting may not reach the poor women but may end up into the pockets of the corrupt ministers, bureaucrats and other people in charge.

I do not want to criticize any UN organization because I know they are very honest in their purpose, but they must be made aware of what is happening under the table. We in India have two very big states called as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which are very much helped by UNICEF as well as the World Health Organization. UNICEF started a project called Angan, meaning courtyard, where the children were to be educated and brought up in a proper shape. This project is not at all working for the children but all the money goes into the pockets of all the corrupt people who are in charge of that project and the children do not get even two percent of what is being sent for them. Same with the World Health Organization, which is sending medicines and equipment to India. These medicines are sold in the market and are completely used by the recipients for their own gains. The same happens to WHO equipment. So the poor people never get any benefit and they remain all the time helpless.

One has to have a very good network of people, specially women, who are involved and who are honest, compassionate and who would like to make the best out of this money, helping the women to achieve social equality. The main work of womanhood is to create a good society.

Immorality and corruption are the two horrible monsters which are eating up our society. I would blame the mothers of these immoral and corrupt persons because they failed in their duty as mothers in their childhood. The loving training of the mother is the first and most effective influence in shaping the children into beautiful citizens. Mothers who have never tried to guide with great concern and love, or the wives or the daughters who are falling into the fear of the men or of the destructive culture, have not done their duty as integral members of the family to strengthen the moral fibre of the men.

It is important also to see how children are treated in these two cultures of East and West. What we see in the East is that children would listen to their mothers if they are not under fundamentalist culture. This culture relegates women to the level of an inferior human being, fit to be dominated by men and children. In the West also the same thing happens. Children don't respect their mothers neither do they listen to them.

I feel this is because, generally, the Western women spend more time looking after their body and looks than on looking after and loving their children. The nexus between the mother and children weakens and breaks. It is for this reason that many children become street urchins. Fortunately there are still many families in the East and some in the West who deeply defy the corrupting trends of today and look after their children and bring them up properly.

But still I must say that the children in the East are not that much ruined as they are in the West. The reason, also, is that in the East there are many people who have not taken to fundamentalist culture or to the Western culture and have a very good society and produce children who are exceptionally good although this number may not be very great. But whatever culture they have inherited, since long, traditionally, is very much ingrained in them and to them the moral value system is the highest, more than money or power.

The West is now full of problems. Though they have money, they don't have peace within and without. The truth is that women are the potential power of every civilization and every country. It is evident that women are the creators and the preservers of the entire humankind. This is the role that the almighty God has assigned to them. Seeds cannot create anything by themselves. It is the Mother Earth which provides the flowers and the fruits and other bounties. Similarly, it is the woman who creates the child, who nurtures the baby and eventually brings up the citizen of tomorrow.

Women must therefore rank with Mother Earth as the edifice of the entire humanity. Unfortunately, men have utilized muscle power to gain a dominating position over women. They have not recognized that women are complementary and equal but not similar partners in human endeavors. A society that does recognize this fundamental truth and does not given to women their rightful role is not a civilized society.

In my own country there is a saying in Sanskrit, "Yatra nayra pujyante tatra ramante devata" , which means that "Where the women are respected and respectable, there resides the Gods of our well-being". So it is for us, at this moment, to recognize the value of this great power that is given to us by our Creator. But what do we find? Whether in the East or in the West, women have not been able to give a full manifestation of their greatness. I am not suggesting at all that the only role of women in society is that of the Mother, the pro-creator and preserver of children, or that of a wife, or a sister.