Every day I go to a tea shop and while doing so, I pass a coaching institute where women are taught English typing. I often see this group of 12-15 women enjoying their typing session. It always makes me happy and is also inspiring that the girls were taking an initiative to take control of their life. One fine day, I found a group of 6-7 girls drinking tea at the shop. Though I did take my usual seat, they were audible to me. The following is an excerpt from their conversation,
“Yesterday, I went out with my family to the amusement park. And there was an amazing dance competition going on. You should have been there. The girls were dancing so well that even I wanted to dance.”
Another girl replied, “Hey, you are so fond of dancing. Why did you not participate? You would have ‘killed it, girl!”
The reply was somewhat disturbing. The first girl said, “My brother told me that I am not the ‘dancing type’ and I would not like it. He said that I am an independent and constructive girl with dreams and I should not waste my time in these things. And I think he is right, I should only focus on my typing and prepare for the bank clerical exam. It can change my life.”
I took this conversation with me and thought over it. Something about this was not correct. I took a mental note:
With all these boxes checked, the problem snuck its head out of everything-that-is-not-wrong pile, i.e. the tone of her voice. She lamented about not being able to participate. She felt that she was stuck between being a bold, independent woman and a young girl who wishes to enjoy and make merry. Her voice conveyed the fear that if she chooses to go out and dance, she would lose the crown of being an independent and constructive girl.
Sometimes, the tone of a statement speaks more than the words. I discussed this with friends and many of my female friends shared a similar situation. This experience shaped the campaign #mererangokipawri for International Women’s Day, 2021. We will acknowledge the various colours of women and stop painting them the way men want.
Everybody has different colours, if a woman is a doctor, she could also want to run out in the rain and have her roadside tea or even if she is a homemaker and manages the house, she can go out for an all-night wild party. We all have our colours and we all must respect them.
De Haath Society has started this campaign to celebrate the colours. Check out #mererangokipawri #internationalwomensday #choosetochallenge