Women’s Day celebrates the success and importance of women in our society. We have come far from the days of servitude thrust upon women. As a woman, I can’t help but think of how far we still need to go before the world can truly be a place where women have an equal opportunity to thrive.
While encouraging stories of successful women across the world keep pouring in, we should not forget the millions of women whose ‘non-achievements’ are seldom recognised, whose ‘non-stories’ are seldom written about. These are ‘ordinary’ women who are still fighting incessantly against societal hurdles and paving the way for their daughters.
While I agree it is important to celebrate women on this day and raise a toast to how far we have come, it is imperative to ensure that this discussion is not a one-day affair but a year-round process. I believe much progress has been made on ‘women issues’ but there is still a long way to go. Women across the world still struggle with abuse, harassment and disrespectful behaviour at home, at work or out on the streets. We still struggle for the freedom to make our own choices.
The menace of sexual abuse in all its forms, be it rape, groping, touching, stare-raping, eve teasing or catcalling, is a pervasive epidemic that needs to be crushed with a heavy hand. This disease has sprung from and perpetuates the delusion of male dominance. It has violated females and broken their morale since time immemorial.
It raises a battery of questions. Where does it begin? Where does it stop? With whom does it stop? How can we make the environment safe for our women, girls, babies? At a rudimentary level, we need to understand what is psychologically wrong with men who feel it is acceptable and perhaps even their right to violate a woman. Where does this feeling of invincibility stem from? We need to understand why we as a society produce so many men of such mentality. We need to come together, men and women alike, dig deep, analyse, understand and learn. We need to then plan and execute a change. We need to do this together, right now! The government is doing a lot for the betterment of females in our society. It is time for us to take the baton in our hands.
At work, we expect women to fit into an existing ‘blueprint’. A blueprint created by men, to suit men. I’ve seen women struggle to fit in with the strategic ‘cigarette breaks’ and ‘post-work beer parties’. I’ve seen them break down and give up. As if grappling with the omnipresent glass ceiling, pay disparity, inflexible working hours, inappropriate/ disrespectful behaviour, sexual innuendos isn’t enough, women need to then go back home and fulfil the role of a home-maker as well.
On the brighter side, we know where we have failed. Rather than getting disheartened by the lack of success, let us huddle together and liven up this enterprise. This effort must begin at home. Children are like creepers, the scaffolding provided by parents can change the direction in which they grow. Children often emulate their parents and elders. It is critical for us to set good examples. Let us encourage our young girls to think big, have dreams and aspirations, forge a career, achieve financial independence and build a life where they are the architect of their own destiny. Let us teach our young boys to respect men and women alike. Let us teach our children that men and women are ‘equal’ partners in this journey called life, that we are each other’s companions.
We also need to look out for our middle aged and older women, not just the girls.
With the right opportunity and guidance, skill and financial independence can be acquired at any age.
Giving credit where it is due, there are many incredible men who are not just at the forefront of this battle for women’s rights but also play the role of a supportive relative or friend behind the scenes. We can never have too many of these role models.
My ideal world is that of meritocracy. In my ideal world, there would be no need for a ‘Women’s Day’. Every day would be a people’s day. Everybody would be given equal opportunity in a supportive environment to achieve their maximal potential. The equality of all humans irrespective of their genders would be integral to the fabric of society.
A woman is the nucleus around which a family nurtures and flourishes. When we empower a woman, we empower her family and, as a result, empower the society. It is time for us to change, for a better present, for a better future.
(Author – Shreya Mundur)
(Shreya Mundur is from British Columbia, Canada.She is a Senior Software Lead by day, a writer by night.During her free time she likes to volunteer. She loves travelling. It helps her widen my perspective in life.Having worked in large MNCs in a few countries, she has experienced the vagaries of life. She is a keen student of human nature and has an opinion on most things. She is a true Bharatiya at heart and feel passionately about discrimination of any type.)
Find her on Twitter: @mavericksmun