“A woman is like a tea bag—you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
The theme of the international women’s day could not have been better, “Be bold for change”, however the impending question till now has been whether is it women or men that need to be bold to initiate the change?
India, a vibrant, pluralist and multifarious country, ascribing to superpower status still has one of the worst record of women empowerment and rights, The World Economic Forum in its report for Global Gender Gap Report 2016 , has given India an overall rank of 87, out of 144 countries with countries like Bangladesh outperforming it, equally dismal is that India ranks 142 out of 144 in terms of women health and survival. Also women participation in managerial roles, politics and social life are equally damning and limited.
Coming from a cosmopolitan yet traditional family my sister and I have always been treated equally, our parents have never discriminated, instead have always encouraged and supported our endeavors and passions. My sister had recently passed her UPSC Assistant Commandant exam by virtue of which she is now a Deputy Superintendent of Police, she was also during that time working in a public sector bank. When the question of weighing in the options came, many dissuaded her from taking the strenuous and tough life of a Policewoman, including relatives and friends. However passing an exam of this feat is definitely a very big achievement, my parents advise was for her to simply follow her passion. She is thus all set to go for her training which commences soon.
Luckily for me I belong to such a vibrant example of a set of parents that practices what they preach, I have had instances of friends telling me that how their parents are forcing them for marriage, or not allowing them to purse their jobs and other passions , sadly these people come from extremely “learned” branch of society but what matters in women empowerment is actually a little bit of prudence without the fear of societal norms .
Likewise in-spite of its blips, India has given us plenty of examples to celebrate women hood, We were one of the first country to have a woman heading the government in the form of Indira Gandhi, or the most recent iconic ISRO launch which actually had a group of women working tirelessly breaking the stereotypes. It goes to prove that the country is still tolerant and that women can match up or even outperform themselves in various fields.
It is therefore time that a certain section does not discriminate against women in terms of either their clothes, appearance, aptitude and work. India that has celebrated matriarchy in the past whether it be the South Indian cultures that had some empires headed by the queens, specially the Rashtrakutha empire, Razia Sultan of the Slave dynasty of Delhi, who challenged stereotypes and conducted the affairs of her state sitting in the open durbar in the garb of a man, or the extremely tolerant Harappan civilization that worshiped the mother goddess is fine examples of how tolerant and advanced the country was.
So who exactly needs to “BE Bold” in the change? shouldn’t it be the politicians who after nearly 70 years of independence fail to pass a bill in parliament for 33% reservation of women? because in participation of women in Parliament, India lags behind Bangladesh, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, and more than a hundred other countries, with a rank of 112. Or the legislatures in Nagaland whose refusal and to relent women participation in Urban local bodies because it “infringes” upon Naga customary law? Or to the parents who feel that after a certain age daughters need to be packed off in marriage? the harbingers to bring this change is a concerted effort, one need not be extremely educated or learned but simply a case of Live and Let live needs to be applied. One cannot weigh women empowerment with societal norms and customs and justify their stand.
As the world celebrates International women’s day it should be imperative to note that it mustn’t be a just one day affair with rally’s, marches and soirees, the definition should be innate and encompassing.
As the Famous American Author Bell Hooks said “Feminism is for everybody” and If i can add “its for everyday!”
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