Breaking the Chains of Patriarchy: Women’s Right to Name Autonomy

Empowering Women Through Name Autonomy: A Call to Break the Shackles of Patriarchy

In the ceaseless pursuit of gender equality, every facet of society must be scrutinized for its adherence to egalitarian principles. A recent petition to the Delhi High Court by Ms Divya Modi Tongya underscores the entrenched patriarchal attitudes that continue to restrict women’s autonomy, particularly concerning their names. Ms Modi Tongya’s plea to revert to her maiden name post-divorce has brought to light the discriminatory hurdles placed by bureaucratic regulations, reflective of a larger societal struggle against gender bias.

At the heart of Ms. Modi Tongya’s petition lies the issue of name autonomy, a fundamental aspect of individual identity. The imposition of bureaucratic requirements, such as the demand for divorce papers or spousal consent, serves as a stark reminder of the persistent misogyny that seeks to control and confine women within patriarchal structures. Such requirements not only violate constitutional rights but also perpetuate gender-based hierarchies, reinforcing the notion that a woman’s identity is contingent upon her marital status.

The impediments faced by women in asserting their name autonomy extend beyond legal battles into everyday life. Women who choose to retain their maiden names or adopt alternative naming conventions often encounter societal resistance and bureaucratic obstacles, ranging from interrogative inquiries to cumbersome paperwork. These challenges underscore the pervasive nature of patriarchal norms, which dictate women’s behaviour and reinforce traditional power dynamics within relationships.

India, despite its progress on various fronts, continues to grapple with deep-rooted gender disparities. Women disproportionately bear the burden of unpaid domestic labour and face systemic barriers to participation in the workforce. Moreover, societal expectations often dictate women’s roles and restrict their agency, perpetuating a cycle of gender inequality.

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In the global context, achieving gender equality remains one of the most pressing human rights challenges. The United Nations has emphasized the importance of empowering women and girls, highlighting the need for substantive action to dismantle entrenched patriarchal structures. Merely paying lip service to gender equality without tangible legislative reforms and robust social frameworks is insufficient in addressing systemic discrimination.

The case of Ms. Divya Modi Tongya serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle for women’s rights in India and worldwide. Upholding women’s right to name autonomy is not just a legal matter but a broader societal imperative. It requires a collective effort to challenge patriarchal norms, dismantle discriminatory practices, and create inclusive spaces where women can assert their identities free from coercion and prejudice.

As we navigate towards a more equitable future, we must stand in solidarity with women like Ms. Modi Tongya, advocating for their right to self-determination and autonomy. Let us work towards a society where every individual, regardless of gender, can exercise their rights and live authentically without fear of reprisal or discrimination. Only then can we truly claim progress towards gender equality and justice for all.

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