After February, the month of love comes March and the month becomes too hot to handle!
Exam fever, the hot weather and yeah, the women’s day posters – aren’t these enough to make our day hot in March!!
Talk about women, suddenly in March, the whole world gets reminded that there is this fifty per cent of the world population that needs to be recognised, that needs to be cared for, appreciated and admired and their voices also need to be heard. Thankfully, due to the thousands of Women’s day events, seminars and campaigns, we today acknowledge better the contributions of women in our society.
Well, despite all these celebrations, every day we hear news which depreciates the value of a woman and her life on this planet.
For e.g., look at some of the news headlines that I read in the past week
1. Court asks the rapist if he is willing to marry the victim.
2. Court says “However brutal a man is, can sex between husband and wife be called rape?”
3. A Politician addresses a rally of women demanding school fee waiver as “You produce children, why should Govt pay for education?”
4. The Father of a minor rape victim shot dead for giving a police complaint.
5. 23 year old woman sent out of her house for dowry dispute commits suicide.
6. 14 year old school girl drugged and raped several times by the drug mafia at her own house.
7. Divorce petition filed by husband since wife does not know to cook his favorite dish.
8. Touching a minor girl’s breast with clothes on cannot be considered molestation.
9. Husband beat up and strangled wife since he did not like the tea she made.
10. Husband locked up his wife for several days in a bathroom due to an argument.
Oh, well, the above list is endless and this is just the tip of the iceberg considering the number of gender-based violence and issues that women face on a day to day basis. These might seem like “yet another societal problem” and we can even blame the Government for not providing safety for women or scorn the lopsided judiciary. But let me also share a message that I received in Prayaana last day.
The message is from a woman in her 40s who contacted our Comeback 2 Career Mission coordinator for getting help as a job. Though she was a BTech holder (which was taken almost two decades back), she needed a lot of up-skilling and mentoring to be able to join back career. Our coordinator counselled her and asked her to join the mentoring program for which she needs to pay a nominal monthly fee of Rs.300/-. To which she replied that she won’t be able to make the payment since her husband won’t give her the money and her parents are not alive. This might seem a shocker for some people. But I am used to hearing these kinds of responses from women many times.
The basic premise under which the Indian society (and many other nations as well) still functions is that women are one step below the powerful and strong men. All her decisions and needs are to be met by the man in the household. Unless this concept is changed, we cannot progress as a society.
Ironically, most International Women’s Day posters glorify the empowered women and also keep telling that “Women are already empowered”. Well, I think, this is a myth propagated by the privileged segment of people. In reality, it is still a question, whether our women are empowered at all! As long as women are not empowered to make financial decisions related to family and their needs within a family, I do not think she is empowered.
Financial empowerment is the first and foremost thing a woman shall be aware of. Being a housewife doesn’t mean that she cannot take financial decisions for her own needs! Forget housewife, we still have working women whose husband is the custodian of her ATM card and who decides how much money she gets every month for her travel to the office and other needs.
Well, these may appear as things happening in some rural India or some underdeveloped country. But the fact is that these are incidents happening in our locality! Maybe in our neighbour’s house or in our own house. Did we ever check or have we taken it granted as a norm?
According to me, the possible solution to all women issues is first making the woman truly empowered. And True empowerment starts with two things
1.Empowered to make decisions related to self and stick to it without any guilty feeling.
2.Empowered to pay their own bills and to make financial decisions in the family.
Change must begin in small things. Change must begin within each of us. A woman shall also invest in building her life better. Any money spent on upskilling, personal growth or pursuing passions/hobbies are all investments that you make for yourself. And the more you invest in yourself, the more you become precious and valuable. And once the woman is empowered in the above two aspects, I am sure the men also need to empower themselves.
So, to all the women who are celebrating International Women’s day this year, I challenge you to become “truly empowered” before you celebrate your womanhood!
And to all men, who forward IWD posters to women you know, I challenge you also to become “truly empowered” by not depending on a woman for your day to day needs. This dependence in the form of glorification is indeed a chain that prevents a woman from flourishing her potentials!
Happy Women’s Day 2021!