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Boisterous, Boundless And Bold: Dear Women, Live Life The Way You Want

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A few weeks back, I watched this movie named ‘Shakuntala Devi’. With this, I remember in my school Kendriya Vidyalaya, we had four cultural houses and one among them was ‘Shakuntala Devi House’. That’s it. That’s all I knew about her. 

The movie recited about her journey where she came to be known as the ‘Human-Computer’ and a world-wide famous mathematician. She was also a writer and was popularly known for her extraordinary calibre in mental calculations. This movie definitely highlights her career but more importantly leaves a great impression as to how a woman should really go behind what she wants for herself.

Certainly, I’m not writing this article to give reviews about the movie. You can either watch it or read the review here.

Rather, it brings questions in mind that revolve around a woman like:

  1. Can a woman live the way she wants before and after marriage and kids?

  2. Is a woman’s life all about performing the social roles of a daughter, sister, mother, and spouse since the time she takes birth?

  3. And, should a woman have her desires, wants, and ambitions?

As we see in today’s households, both men and women are getting out to study and work. There’s a higher consciousness floating about having a greater purpose and ambition in life coupled with financial stability. It is driving us to reach heights and gain as much abundance as possible. 

With this, a new family dynamic takes place where one or both the parents are possibly out for work and kids to face an unexplainable feeling of being loved from a distance. In the movie, Shakuntala continues to go behind her ambitions and dreams despite being a mother. She stays away from her child for days, even months. Now the question is,

Who is responsible for it? And, is it only a mother’s responsibility to take care of the kids?

Motherhood
Image used for representational purposes only.

This snippet takes us back to our childhood wherein we have seen our mothers be giving, nurturing, providing, and sacrificing. They are expected to be somebody who should be in a giving energy for her family. Yes, there is nothing wrong with this. Everyone expects her to be a good mother, but society presupposes that:

  1. She should take care of her kids and be around them 24x7x365.
  2. She should cook meals. (The predetermined job of a woman that sometimes seems like a life contract)
  3. She can have an ambition, but not be too career-driven. It might threaten men. 
  4. Her job shouldn’t be more important compared to her family. Her ultimate goal after marriage is to tend to her kids and family. 
  5. She should not work out of town, go for long business trips or work for late-night hours
  6. She shouldn’t go out on her own for vacations
  7. She shouldn’t buy things for herself when she has a family to serve
  8. She should perform all the social roles perfectly as a mother, daughter in law and a wife
  9. She should take care of the entire family

These are things that generally women do, but why is a ‘should’ attached to a mother’s role? The society has made us see our mothers, as just mothers and not as women and most importantly, as a human being.

It is natural for us to view the world the way others make us see it. I’m sure when a woman becomes a mother, it’s a delightful feeling. She loves her kids and family so much that they mean the world to her. True. But what if she can’t be there for her kids or family due to her personal reasons? Definitely, she loves her family, but what if she chooses her desires and ambitions and makes them a priority?

Women do indeed give a lot of themselves, but now the time has come, where a woman should flow that same amount of energy into herself. It is time that they realise what she wants and what makes her happy. Let her make decisions on her own. Let her create perspectives according to her own experiences instead of burdening her with the age-old restrictions put by the society on her. Even if she fails, let her learn. Just let her loose. Life is a journey where humans can’t work like machines.

We operate on emotions that generate thought and are further translated into many actions. We want to do things that we like and they can change any time according to our desires. Then why women who become mothers are just expected to serve the people around her? She might also feel one day that she wants to do something, or go somewhere. Sacrifices and adjustments look good to a certain extent but having self-sabotaging behaviours and putting yourself on the back burner is not good for personal growth.

This is about mothers when we talk about women per se, it seems like she is born to live according to others’ wishes. Her life’s meaning is to go by what others say, what others want from her, and what she should be doing. She lives in a shrunken state and is told that these are the confines and limits for you, don’t overstep them.

Her inner conscience never really takes birth to see herself in the mirror and ask: Who am I? What is my identity? And, what is the purpose of my life?

It is a subjective topic to describe every daughter, mother, wife, and other roles out there. Everybody’s situations and experiences are different, but the spirit is the same. 

In the movie, Shakuntala Devi’s daughter realizes her mother’s situation, when she herself becomes a mother. She starts her own business and in the midst, she has this epiphany that after being a mother, its a completely different ballgame. 

So to all the women, live your life the way you want. Whichever role you play, you know you have a distinguishing, unique, and original individuality. You have the power to ignite the innermost fire and manifest outward achievements.  Create balance as well as boundaries. Nothing seems good when it’s too extreme. You know what really matters to you and what your priorities are.

Don’t let society set them for you. Own your dreams wants, desires, and ambitions. Don’t do things that are expected from you just because you are a woman. Do it because it is important for you and only you. Keep adding value and keep vouching yourself, so that you have your own back. Also, get inspiration from women like Shakuntala Devi who is boisterous, boundless and bold.

You must be to comment.
  1. Spandana Deshpande

    I got tears while reading 👏.

    1. Ruchi Balkrishna

      Thanks! Happy it created a powerful impact.

  2. Yash Arun Pawar

    This is so nice

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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