March 22, 2023
March is the month dedicated to women. March 8, 2023 is International Women's Day with the motto 'Embrace equality'. It is a day to celebrate, to reflect, to analyse and face reality. Woman in the global scenario, an expert in science and technology, an administrator, a head of state, above all a mother is honoured and respected. But the real question haunting and taunting all of us is - Is a girl, a woman really free? With all the progress and advancement, can she hold her head high and express herself? These questions need a lot of thought and reflection.
In the words of William Golding, “I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men. They are far superior and always have been”. An anonymous writer pays the greatest tribute to women in the following words “Whatever you give a woman, she will make it greater. If you give her a sperm, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she will give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her”.
Yes, a woman is a superpower given freedom and opportunities. She proves her mettle, becomes a catalyst of change in society. Today globalisation and progress have opened so many avenues to women. International women's day 2023 Times of India.com has identified the 10 most powerful women in India.
• Nirmala SItaram - Union Finance Minister
• Nita Ambani - Director Reliance Industries
• Leena Nair - CEO, Channel French Luxury Group
• Falguni Nayar - CEO Nykka, Self-made entrepreneur
• Gita Gopinathan - Deputy managing director, IMF
• Madhabi Pure Buch - Chairperson SEBI
• Kalle Puri - Vice Chairman - India Today Group
• Anshula Kant - Managing director - World Bank group
• Shobana Kamineni - Executive Vice Chairperson Apollo Hospitals
• Aparna Bawa - Chief Legal officer, Zoom Video
Similarly there are so many firsts - female achievers in academics, sports, business, science and technology.
But can we afford to be complacent about the status of women in India? Definitely not. On a negative note, is the girl child, a woman really free? Can she travel freely, without worry, at night and day in her village, her city and her country? Within the four walls of her home, is she free? Every five minutes an atrocity is committed against women - wife beating, abuse of female child. Every 20 minutes, a woman is raped. Treatment to the victims is so horrible that India is considered the rape capital of the world. Of the sixty million crimes in 2022, 42 million were against women. Too many girl child prostitutes, 80 percent of them operate in major cities. In secondary schools more than 61 percent are dropouts for absence of toilets. Married women turn to flesh trade because of acute poverty. Therefore a lady is faced with real challenges in her life.
• Primary challenge in the life of a woman is her home. Millions of doubts and questions confront women today. Our families - where are they leading to? Our children, with all the amenities, luxuries and comforts are scared to face life. Hence, suicides and murders of little children. Parents are scared to have open discussion with their children. So, what is the role of a mother, a home maker?
• Changing society is a training ground to a woman. The stress, uncertainties, day to day challenges of survival, education, employability, social skills do pose threats to a female. Can she succeed in a man's world? As we celebrate women's day, a woman really needs communication and social skills, employment to be really free. When there are so many evils against women, what is the attitude of a woman? Is it empathy, is it anger against the injustices meted out or is it submissiveness? What about suicide of a woman for petty reasons? A mother killing her own children and herself? Time to think and reflect, dear friends.
• Woman in politics - Real empowerment of women is when they are in administration and political affairs. Unfortunately in our parliament only 15% are women members. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, only 9% were women candidates contesting. Though in local bodies there is up to 33% woman participation. Modernity, education has not motivated women and of course men need to encourage them.
So as we honour women and celebrate international women's day, let us resolve to empower women. Empower the girl child with sound education, skills and training, hobbies, social awareness and sensitivity. Let women open their eyes wide and stand up against injustice. In the words of Mary Shelley, “I do not wish women to have power over men but over themselves.”
Let us conclude with the words of our president, Draupadi Murmu in ‘Her story - My story’ article in Times of India: “Today I wish to urge each of you to commit yourself to one change that would bring a smile to a girl’s face, any change that would improve her chances of moving ahead in life. That is one request straight from my heart."