By Aarti Kumari:
When Betty Friedan said “The feminine mystique lies buried in millions of women” little did she know that time will alter, if not change, her words. Yes it’s true that the road to know about a women has no end, but surely it provides lot of bends. And ‘time’ always comes to the rescue whenever the path seems to make one look lost.
Women, the word seems to exist from time of which we have no track from when, but that little word always remained cuddled, wrapped in layers of mystery. When we travel back to old times, with a little help from our friend called ‘Imagination’, one can see the various pictures of women right from Vedic period till the modern day. From what she used to be – an over-all champion -from medicine, management (both at home and kingdom), spirituality or even on the battlefield. Name any field, and women always had a place for themselves. They also took pride in showcasing their abilities and skills, and always equaled with men. Time took its tide and turns and during the rise of Medieval period, women completely lost this status. In fact, they were considered as things, which were used at the leisure of men and their freedom was curbed. This period was supposed to be considered as the most tragic period for her, as the system of child-birth, female infanticide, polygamy, Sati and Purdah system were given birth to. Their strength and spirit went for a toss and her own beauty became her enemy. During these periods, women were confined within four walls under strict supervision from men and even her freedom of thoughts was caged. But it was from this period that we can still names of Razia Sultana, Chand Bibi, Jija Bai, Durgavati and Noor Jehan who braved and fought against their basic rights and crafted a name in field of literature, politics, education and even religion. During the British invasion when Indians were looked down as downtrodden, women had to face the brunt of racism apart from their own struggles. But few of them braved to come out of the shell and actively took part in the freedom movement. The years of endurance and sacrifice at last paved the way to enjoy the dawn of an independent India, which was a ringing bell for her own freedom too.
But despite independence, women were still chained in the names of tradition and age old evil practices. She was free to move, but only within the four walls and any door beyond that was sealed. She was given the basic educational right. Yet the priorities of giving importance to home always remained top slot. She was thrust upon with the responsibility of looking after home and catering to the needs to the members of the household, putting aside her thoughts or wishes. The only focus she had to move her eyeballs on was home and only home. Women took up these challenges and was moulded as a perfect homemaker. But when she saw her male counterparts at times struggling with petty issues in their work life, there spurred a thought in her mind, igniting the passion to try and walk on that same path, which she knew would excel in better than her male colleagues.
And thus was fought a battle again, demanding more freedom to choose her own career, to try to break the chains of early marriage, that would hinder her growth towards her passion for the profession. There was a tinge of rebellious spirit in this fight and she just wanted one result of it – her win. Slowly, the trend changed and women, though hardly handful, started to venture into politics, medicine, aviation etc where the entry was usually available only for men in those days. As these areas demanded hard work and devotion, not many women could come forward and convert their dreams into reality.
It was liberalisation and globalisation that swung the doors open. The corporate culture, which encouraged women employees, were thronged with passionate women who were eager to make a mark for themselves. MNCs, unlike Indian companies readily took in women employees, as they proved to be more efficient than her male counterparts or atleast at par.
This positive response and a promising future evoked many a women to chase their dreams and make their wish list into reality. Soon women started to explore areas which had been thought best only for men. There was sharp rise in the educational percentage and women actively took up the courses in professional or niche courses. Photography, wildlife, journalism, army, environmental science, RJing/VJing, tourism and travel are some of the fields that women took to explore and create their impression. Knowing that the challenges would double if they tread his path and that their brave spirit will be jolted by her rivals to shake their confidence, women continued to stick to her decisions and made sure to achieve what was in her mind.
Despite facing stiff competition and tiffs within the family and in the world outside, she took it up as challenge and showed her results that silenced the voice against here. It was the entry of IT industry that took the world by storm. IT became a dream career of many as its career ladder was lucrative and promising too. This seemed to be inviting and tempted women too. She hopped onto this field, which apart from being challenging demanded working late night / odd hours. To climb the success ladder, women were ready to be flexible, but the sudden changes in her couldn’t be absorbed by the society.
The late night shifts in BPOs posed a threat to her safety and security. A sharp rise in sexual harassment at workplaces, eve-teasing, rape cases made her give a serious thought which at times restricted her steps to move ahead. Also with a complete shift of her concentration on her career, the home life became imbalanced and it began to be taken for granted. The sudden change of a homemaker to a professional was unacceptable and that’s why a few more obstacles were raised for her to maintain a balance between the two if not complete dedication to family-life. Women still juggle to manage both and at times she is forced to make decisions choosing between the two.
Yet she keeps her faith and somehow manage to squeeze time out for her passion along with imposed duties. And as Bill Copeland says, “Not only is women’s work never done, the definition keeps changing.” True to his words, a lot of words have been replaced to describe women in an nutshell. Yet at the end of it either words fall short or her responsibilities, dreams/passion are too large to be confined in words.