“Marriage can wait; education cannot.”
Gone are the days when women had to be considered a burden which had to be trained in domestic affairs and then married off into a household that believed her a propagator of their lineage. Her life was resigned to the home and duties towards her children and husband. Poverty meant an even worse state for her.
She could only eat what was left over after feeding her children and husband and could not rest until all their daily needs had been met. A woman in that era was merely a slave addressed as a wife. Decisions concerning intellectual labour were considered beyond the realm of her capabilities and respect was only accorded to her as a caregiver.
The onus of making something out of her son lay on her. Her daughter remained neglected, and this cycle continued for many generations, until now.
The change is gradual, but it is ostensible. Indian society is changing, and women are finding their identity. They can accomplish as much as men if they are given an opportunity. That is where not only India but many societies are lacking. Women and men are not paid equally.
Where men find themselves being the cynosure of investors in various industries, women are seen as a risk which may not give rich dividends in the long run. Their work has also not been carried the importance that it should have and women have fought continually for respect and faith, which the society refuses to bestow on them.
Women Surging Ahead
Women have been regarded as the multi-tasking sex for centuries. They have successfully managed the home and the problems of their entire family single-handedly. This is a trait men can hardly boast of. Exploiting this trait to his advantage is the entrepreneurial genius, Jack Ma, who claimed that the success of the Alibaba Group lay in its percentage of women employees- which is 50%.
Women are hard and successful workers because without them, the family will stop functioning. Out of conditioning since childhood, women have learnt to handle responsibilities, and now they are working their way up the rungs of the corporate ladder as well. Not only in the corporate sector, but women have also been in the limelight for their immaculate performances in the field of sports, drama, and music. Women are no longer the trophy wives who cannot find their feet in the event of desertion by their husbands or fathers.
Women have courage. They are fighting for their dreams and working hard to accomplish them and prove their mettle in this fiercely competitive world. But the sad truth is that they are still “fighting”. They are even being labelled “women achievers” instead of achievers where the gender does not make it unique.
Feminism is the controversial term that has been exploited mindlessly by the society, and no one understands the grave need for correct interpretation of this phenomenon. Feminism, in no way, envies the privileges of the man. It does not wish to supersede men by the life-giving apparatus granted to women by nature. It does not want to compare man and woman and explicitly state that the two are entirely similar.
They are different. Period. But that does not qualify as a reason for women to be treated differently. Both are humans. Both need certain basic things to survive and thrive in this world. Men apart, feminism is a cry for fair opportunities to and rational treatment of women.
They should be given a chance to prove their calibre just as men are defied to do so in a competitive work setting. The imploring for privileges is not feminism. The world needs more feminists like Indira Nooyi or even Kiran Bedi- path breakers who have turned their odds in their favour to brighten the path for other women to tread. This is the power of women leaders. Unity has proved that this sex can lead the way and give much to the world in terms of their inner strength and courage in the face of failures and difficulties.
The biggest epitomes of revolutionising world leaders include amazing women. Mother Teresa, Kalpana Chawla, Sunita Williams, and Madame Curie have been the torchbearers leading the female community forward and exposing its capabilities of changing the world despite popular belief towards the contrary.
However, these women are but a drop in the ocean. They have accomplished much, but their number is meagre in comparison to the talent abounding the earth in the form of women. Society and its conservative ideas of women and their boundaries have defined the limits till where women are free to act of their own will. Beyond that, women are merely puppets at the hands of patriarchs who chart the future these women are supposed to have and dump the burden of these ideas onto them.
Patriarchs head societies all over the world. They have decided and mapped the route their little girls, mothers, sisters and wives shall follow. Women who dare to take a detour from the defined route are castigated and punished. The worst form of punishment is their estrangement by their families. When a woman chooses the beaten path, her family supports her, and she lives a stifled life pleasing everybody.
If she chooses her heart over society, she has to tread on the unbeaten path alone. This is the sad reality of the modern woman. The ancient era disallowed women from even having a distinct thought process. When the modern era arrived, and she finally found her voice, the whole world is hell-bent on gagging her. Striving for success is not her problem; her biggest struggle is the first step towards that striving. She finds little to no support of her educated near and dear ones.
Another problem among women achievers is the envy created through prolonged patriarchal conditioning. Men have since long been making fun of two women and their jealousies. The reason behind such jealousy was that there weren’t enough opportunities for women to prosper.
Each woman wanted to grab it, but the patriarchy left only little room for women to succeed. This gave rise to jealousy. But now that women have come into their own, it is time they supported their tribe. This does not mean supporting a woman even as there is a more qualified man competing for a position. It merely means encouraging other women and their successes.
The barrage of rumours that surround a leading woman in an industry and questions her rise to the top, often attributing her success to sycophancy or bestowing favours on the males in power, is an unnecessary element when it comes to appreciating a woman’s hard work and ascent.
Pulling each other up is a trait that women are yet to acquire. No woman should spend her life gossiping about another woman and supporting men who move ahead of her by virtue of their gender.
Women are the building blocks of society. They are the pillars of strength holding families together. They do not get appreciated enough for their skills and their work in underrated. Women in their daily lives well manifest the art of living. The economy and polity would do well to use such skills to develop. Women have to fight for themselves and voice their opinion wherever they have one.
They need to start accepting each other and not see the world as a companionship of man and women along with a competitive field placing woman against woman.
The society needs to change, and women need to be at the helm of things. Before that, they need to be encouraged to acquire skills which shall enable them to conquer the world. Yes! That should be their aim, nothing less. Parents should always dream the best for their children. Daughters should never be told that there is an expiry date to their dreams.
While the feminist rant condones an encouraging environment where girls can dream of becoming pilots, soldiers, and musicians, it should also encourage women to accept that their dream is to support their family. Building a successful empire does not always mean a corporate giant, it can also mean a healthy, happy home where children play, and the couple walks through life holding each other’s hands.
Empowering women means empowering their choices. These choices shall build the society, and the future generations shall learn that gender is no barrier for accomplishing big and small victories. Skill sets are exclusive of gender biases. Adults need to relearn their ideas of women and their traits. They are not leeches or fungi which live off what you give them. They are bees- workers and queens, working hard to build a home from what you give them.
Women have had it tough so far. Celebrating a single day as a day dedicated to empowering them is not enough. We need to continue the enthusiasm of 8th March throughout the year and make little girls understand that they possess the power to change the world, soften the society and spread love if they take it upon themselves to do so.
No man should ever dictate their decisions when he is her equal. Nobody can own her. She belongs to herself and therein lies her empowerment.
Don’t treat her like a queen, for she will stop working for anything. Don’t treat her like a girl; she will forget what humanity is. Treat her like a person, and she will understand life and her purpose in it. There lies the salvation of society.; Rebuilt by the hands of a woman who is no different from any man working hard to establish himself.