Lady, What’s your identity?

In the decade of 1990s, as a little girl, I was subjected to several types of discrimination because of my gender. The discrimination was never a concern in my own family where my mother was educated and a progressive woman. But was spewed out from every person I met in some form or the other. For eg: Every single elderly woman in those days talk to my mother about saving money for dowry. Every aunt in those days used to give advice over using fairness creams or doing dental correction procedures.Every uncle used to advice about money schemes to my father for daughters’ marriage fund.

Every brother thought that his responsibility was to ensure the safety of his sister until a husband takes over. Every teacher used to talk about learning to cook and do household chores because a girls’ life is fulfilled only when she runs a family successfully despite whatever career she is in. . Every milkman / paperboy gave a passing comment that the girl is growing up so fast and recommends a good boy whom he have met. Amidst all this, the only person who was literally unshaken was my mother who said, “I will educate them to the extent that they form their own identity”. I never comprehended the meaning of this fully until I reached my middle age.

When the entire society focused on the growing girl as “someone else’s property”, it is natural that as a girl, I too felt incomplete until I got married and had children. And in the past 15 plus yrs. of leading such a life, I have realised that marriage is never the only way to a girls’ life fulfillment. Just as in the case of a man, even for a woman, marriage, child rearing and home management is just one aspect of life fulfillment. However, our society in the past decades has been trying to restrict the identity of a woman only as a tag of her husband or father. Let the new decade be a beacon of change for this.

In the past three years of working at Prayaana, I have listened to 100s of stories of middle aged women who shared that they are happier in their life when they were able to form an identity for themselves. As a Gender equality advocate, I stand up in many occasions where I find women are not treated equally or women are not allowed to speak.

During these instances of raising my voice, I have faced humiliation, teasing and aggression at times. But, I did it with utmost genuineness and many times have been rewarded with the happy tears from the eyes of the women whom I could help. From these tears, I have always felt that the restoration of the lost identity is the most precious thing in a woman’s life. 

It’s time for our society to realise the untapped potentials and creative energy of women and nurture them. All that the society needs to do is this: Help a woman find her own identity. Do not dictate what the society thinks an ideal woman ought to do.

Because, in most cases, the “ideal woman” profile is made as a convenience mechanism for men. Even in scriptures,the description of heaven is a place where there are beautiful women, wine and luxury. These imagery are purely created in a man’s fantasy world and we never know how the heaven for a woman would be like! Will she get handsome men, wine and luxury? We don’t know. Just as in the case of history which is predominantly male narrative, most religions have also left out women’s wishes or rather, religion has been wrongly interpreted by patriarchy to deny women’s dreams and her identity.

The theme for International Women’s Day (8 March) 2020 is, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.  The theme is inspiring since we are talking about a generation which is ensuring equality to women. The generation includes all of us – you and me.  

Let the decade starting 2020 be that of forming, nurturing and promoting a woman’s identity beyond the four walls of her home. This is the way to true gender equality, women empowerment and indeed generation equality.

In a small way, we at Prayaana have been helping one another form their identities and provide avenues for self expression and realisation of potentials.

This Women’s day, we are launching multiple projects for women

including my pet project- The Phoenix Mission 2020 as well as the SheMarket

series to help women entrepreneurs.

My immense love and affection to  lovely women who are in their journey of

identity formation!

“Help a woman find her own identity.”

#CEEVEE

#CeeVee is the brand name of Dr. Chandra Vadhana.

Dr. Chandra Vadhan

Founder and Chief Mentor,

Prayaana Labs

connectceevee@gmail.com

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