My mornings start with the newspaper as do of so many people. And every day as I open the paper I inevitably read front page news about women discrimination , some lawmaker’s “knowledgeable comments”, female fetuses, a new case of rape,an old investigating one or one with the accused being acquitted. And then follows a week of so of endless awakening and need for action and women empowerment sentiments probably a few candle marches,
protests and then the dust settles down.
I remember when I was in my school we were told the story of the “Lost Paradise” and all my classmates unanimously mocked the “stupid Eve” and how if it weren’t for her we’d still be in the Garden Of Eden. The amusing part was that they extrapolated the story to the girls in the class with brazen confidence. What left me surprised was that the opinion was of people who were definitely educated, who knew that they would definitely be higher on the roll of obtuseness. These weren’t unaware and ignorant people. They had knowledge and the best of education yet they held this opinion. This lead me to realize that the seemingly forever need for women power isn’t because of people who don’t know and realize that girls have an equal place in this world we live. Over the time this thought has strengthened.
Plato that said-“Knowledge becomes evil if the aim isn’t virtuous” with regards to the deplorable state of women this seems true. When it comes to empowerment what awareness do we expect? I believe its the idea that the two halves are equal and deserve equal. The idea that girls deserve a fair chance. That the least she can ask is safety within the four walls of her house, her school, her place of work. She deserves to study, to work, to live. Its not really much. I’d say these are the cornerstones of a human life. Yet day after day the world continues to remind us that thanks to a missing “Y” and an extra “X” compromises have to be made. But what the funnier part is that this is reminded of by the some highly educated people some of whom are making the laws and some are enforcing them. Considering the state of politics in India lawmakers are not considered among the forerunners with regards to education but to make up for that every now and then we have “experts in their respective fields” telling us the same old saga. But the cherry on the cake is when some enlightened woman folk present the most aghast views ever leaving their male counterparts in awe and rest of us in disgust.
There is a The Factory Act 1948 which prohibits women from working in factories after 7 pm. In the opinion of a IAF top officer women aren’t fit to fly fighter planes. The education minister of our country is called “Thumke vaali” by another party’s spokesperson. Then we have the heads of institutions like State Women Commission” telling us that venturing out at night (6pm) is a call for assault. Women cannot be given permanent commission in the army. There is no place for women in combat roles in the air force and navy like wise. And the explanation is that the jawans(men) cannot accept a woman as their leader. When there is complete freedom for men to be cooks which according to traditional perception is a woman’s job why cannot some daring girl be in the army!!
All these decisions come from people in power, people who have considerable knowledge, who make our life changing decisions, who decide the fate of our country. If we try to wash our hands off saying they are ignorant I think we need to reflect. These aren’t unaware or ignorant people. They aren’t uneducated. They aren’t bereft of knowledge. They simply chose to turn a blind eye.
Everyday around us a lot of sexist jokes are made, women are objectified and their dignity shredded. The only question I ask myself is would this person have passed this remark for someone from his/her own family wife/
daughter/sister/mother. And the answer is no. is it that people don’t know 1)living is a right. 2)studying is important. 3)being safe is guarantee we all need. Visualizing this without thinking of men or women they seem pretty reasonable but as soon as the latter come up it seems too much to ask. It isn’t the job of a girl to cover herself from head to toe because if a man sees her he might not be able to keep himself in check because boys will be boys!! interestingly by this logic boys should realize they aren’t really superior because if they can’t keep themselves in check and expect girls to do that for them I don’t believe they are the better and the most responsible ones.
This world isn’t in shades of black and white I believe. Neither are all women the saints and all men the demons as some people paint them to be. I read on social media opinions of how men are victimized because of false allegation and complaints. But then we need to look at the bigger picture. Dowry deaths are still happening, female foeticide is still rampant, rapes happen every single day, its more often the wife bearing the brunt of her husband and women
empowerment is still a future goal. The larger section of the girls are still fighting for every breath and every right.
Its time we realize that blaming lack of awareness for the lack of women equality isn’t really the whole story. The people responsible for it have knowledge and power. There isn’t want of more of either I think. If lack of awareness and knowledge had been the cause our schools, homes and offices would have been better places. So I’d say there is a long road ahead of us. Its full of pitfalls and rocks and turns shadowed by deeds and words of a few but there is an end and at the end we have a brighter dawn ahead. Till then hope I have better newspaper
[This article was submitted by Arshdeep Gill as part of ‘Zigverve Creative Writing Contest’]