International Women's Day- Are we there yet?
While the cultured, civilized and educated world celebrates 8th March as International Women's Day, there is a question that troubles my mind- are we as a country, as a society, as a human population in a place to celebrate Womanhood yet? For the world we are the fastest growing economy- our GDP growing at the rate of more than 7% in the last fiscal year... And various other statistics to prove our growth, we do boast of a progressive economy! But what about our society? Are we growing progressively at even half the rate of our economic growth when it comes to women?
Many of the readers will ask where these doubts stem from and I will narrate to you incidences that I have experienced and have been experiencing throughout!
I remember going to a remote area of the country to conduct a research project. What I saw there was what I had been reading and hearing for almost all of life... I saw with my own eyes the discrimination between a girl child and a boy child! What was blaringly visible was the neglect of the health of the girl child. No matter how sick the girl would be, the family would wait for the weekly visit of a doctor sponsored by a corporate to get free medicines. On the other hand if the son was sick, the family would be ready to shell out exorbitant amounts of money, which they could scarcely afford, and seek treatment for him in the nearest private hospitals! While malnourishment was rampant, it were the little girls and the women suffering more than the males of the community! Most of the women who came to the doctor (I was traveling with the free ambulance from village to village for 4 days), had Anemia, were undernourished and had bore more than 4- in some cases the number would go as high as 8 or 9- children ,even when they were clearly not in the physical condition to do so! On asking them why they would not take advantage of the government initiatives on family planning, mostly they would reply that the family heads wanted them to have more children, so that they would have many sons!
The irony was that these women did not realise what was wrong with this entire institution of the society they were living in! It was as if I was an alien species to them... An educated woman traveling on her own. Not one of them wondered about my liberty as a woman. And this is only what i experienced in a very small region of the country in a very tiny timespan! I can only imagine what the bigger picture will look like!
Yes, the government and the corporate citizens have taken a lot of efforts to bring about change, to create awareness, to strengthen the position of women in India, but I feel the real problem is changing the mindset of the women themselves! For centuries, they have taken the role of the submissive, meek stakeholders of the society,
Some would say, don't compare the situation with the entire country. I agree. It's not statistically correct to do so! But what about some other issues such as safety of a woman? I, myself as a woman, though put up a brave face and travel alone, am still scared to travel alone at nights.
What about the liberty to think, talk and do what a woman wants?
I have seen so many near and dear women belonging to so called 'educated, modern, civilized' families constantly sacrificing their dreams. I have seen them stay in a relationship only out of sheer social pressure! I have seen them looking at the elders for permission for the samllest of activities. I have seen them not having financial freedom, despite going out and earning! I have seen them not able to express their pain, as it will be construed as a social weakness.
I must also say here that I am one of the very few inidan woman who never ever had to face discrimination of any kind... infact, I am proud of the fact that my parents never made me feel inferior in any way because I was a girl! Infact I probably was favoured
and loved more. I always had the liberty to make my own choices, take my own decisions and live my life on my terms- something that I was able to do even after marriage!
And that is why my heart goes out to all those women who do not know the meaning of the words 'liberty', 'equality' 'justice'!
There are many successful, free women who are living at par with their male counterparts! But if we compare it to the whole population of the country, the percentage would probably be in decimals! At a macro level, we have found our equality! But what about the micro level? When will every woman get everything that every man gets?
I firmly believe that the real woman's day would be the day that we do not have to fight for our rights, when the government does not have to keep a woman's quota anywhere, when we don't have to take advantage of being a woman, When we celebrate a 'Men's' day, would be when we have really achieved success as women!