When a woman is attacked, it's the entire nation which loses

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Speaker of the Lok Sabha Meira Kumar said on Monday that nothing has changed on the ground even after a year since the gangrape of Nirbhaya, a 23-year-old paramedical student, in a moving bus in New Delhi and the massive protest that followed it and the change of law.

Kumar's statement is significant for it raises a question: What else can ensure safety of our women if the big-scale protest and amendment in laws can not?

The threat to women is a worry, a big one, not just because it sounds bad or those still unharmed find themselves occupied with a disturbed mindset. Whether the politicians have failed to ensure that more women get represented in the popular houses and hence the latter remain an endangered gender is also not the ultimate concern.

In losing Nirbhaya, the nation lost a doctor

The biggest pessimism that Kumar's statement spoke about is that the continuing misfortune of the women is something which would cost the entire nation and not just a few families. By inclusive politics, we mainly refer to communities in religious, caste-based, linguistic, economic and other sense but how many of our leaders are heard speaking about an inclusive agenda in terms of gender?

On March 8 this year, on the occasion of International Women's Day [Read full speech here], the USA's Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the importance of women in a nation's life. He said: "...After all, just like in our own country, the world's most pressing economic, social and political problems simply cannot be solved without the full participation of women."

Why no leader in the world's largest democracy speak on these terms, apart from making regular statements that the police force should be equipped with more guns and personnel? That is something what an average politician will say.

But a leader with credibility will rise above petty arguments over which government did what and speak about the women of India as an important part of its development story. We feel more embarrassed when we see even women leaders speak against victims of gender crime in an insulting tone and offer bizarre explanation for rapes.

Kerry during his speech had said that according to the World Economic Forum, countries where men and women enjoy equal rights are economically better placed than those where gender discrimination leaves women and girls at a decisive distance from hospitals, schools, governance and even markets. Just imagine how much better the world's economy could become if women are made equal partners in its functioning. The society needs to back them as agents of change and productive members so that we all can step forward.

Kerry, for instance, said if women farmers had the same access to seeds, fertilisers and technology as like their male counterparts, the number of undernourished people in the world could be reduced by a whopping 100 million to 150 million. Similar advantages are guaranteed if women and girls are given equal scope in other fields of life as well.

The relentless attack on women is crippling their chances to succeed and putting the economy in a spot. As women are stepping outside their homes more to support their own lives and challenging the status quo, they are facing a backlash, direct and indirect.

A few stories, those of Nirbhaya and Malala Yousufzai, come to our notice thanks to the media but a lot remain unreported. Each of the attacks on an aspiring student, doctor, journalist or even an individual who is compelled to sell her body to feed herself and her family constitute a major blow to the nation's fortunes, socio-economically. How many of us think that through the death of Nirbhaya, we lost a doctor who could have served humanity selflessly?

The world's sole superpower promotes gender equality as it concentrates on armament because it feels that through promoting the women's cause, it can best pursue its global aims of peace and stability.
Not law, not police and neither courts. It is the thinking that has to change. Otherwise, the tall stories of democracy and liberalism make little sense.

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