I don’t know why the International Women’s Day is suddenly so important. What is the need for such a degree of fuss? There are many videos, advertisements and movies made specifically for women’s day – the woman is a rebel, she faces hardships and triumphs with or without the help of men. Then, there are never ending planning to celebrate women’s day in offices (I don’t know about the school and colleges) and residential colonies. According to Wikipedia, Women’s day was first celebrated in New York, as early as in 1909. The objective of celebrating such a day is to empower woman, raise her above the bars of gender discrimination and place her at a place equal to man. I understand that. I am sure that most of us understand that too. But, do you think understanding can resolve anything?
Last Sunday, I was waiting for my train. It was around nine at night and a guy sitting beside me (should be as old as I am or younger) initiated a conversation. We noted that we both are waiting for the same train and that it is late. Gradually, the conversation extended to where we work, what we have studied, etc. He said that he is a Management Consultant in one of the leading IT companies and I said that I am a Chartered Accountant working in IT too. “You mean, you have cleared all the papers in CA”, was his first reaction. I nodded. “I mean, why are you working then? Why don’t you practice?” he asked. “I just wanted to make some money and travel. So I decided to work”, I said. “You think there is any gender bias? I mean women find it more difficult to start a firm of their own?” he asked? I said that I don’t think so. Basically, I didn’t know. “Until you are married, it is better that you are employed. After that, you would know where you would settle and then you can establish your firm”, he said. Did I ask him any consultancy service? He belongs to my generation and he thinks like this – Woman would follow the man. And man would decide where he wants to live.
Another incident. Again I am in the railway station. Accidentally, I bumped into an old acquaintance. It was around ten at night. “Are you alone? Isn’t it too late to be out at this time of night? How did you come? Why didn’t your parents wait to see you off? Don’t you know it is not safe?” he went on after exchanging the initial niceties. First of all, we are meeting after many years. Secondly, he suddenly sounded over-protective. My only reply to his many questions was – “What’s wrong in that? I know to take care of myself”. He was stunned. “How did you come?” I asked. “Auto”, he said. “Alone?” He said yes. “Why didn’t you think it is too late to travel alone?” I asked. He was too shocked to reply.
A girl still cannot walk alone at night, even if her house is a few yards away. She cannot travel alone. If she does, she would be branded as a maverick. She cannot go to movies alone – God knows who would sit beside or behind her and even God might not know what they would do to her. She cannot take travel in cab or auto or even a bus after sunset.
One evening, I was riding my scooterette to home from office. The roads had enough vehicles and it was well lit. Suddenly, one man in bike slowed down and tried to grab me or do some whatever which I don’t know myself. Thankfully, I was aware of the bike behind me and I was slowing down to let him overtake me. If I was riding fast too, I am sure that I would have fallen off from my bike and been injured. I think people would say that woman should travel only in private cars. Having said that, don’t men say women can’t drive cars?
A well-educated family friend, who is also a working woman said, “Why don’t you marry my nephew? He is a lawyer and earns well. You just have to be a good wife and take care of the household matters. You can also attend social parties and have fun”. I knew she was serious about what she was saying. “But, I am a Chartered Accountant. I sacrificed six years of my life just to become one”, I retorted. “Come on, he is a nice boy. You take tuitions or something. Or just take care of his finances”. I didn’t feel like replying.
These are just a few instances that are etched in my mind. We are strange. On one hand, we talk about gender equality. On the other, we want to follow the traditional approach of male domination and female submission. I know a family where the son gets to drive the car, sleep to his heart’s content and laze around. The daughter never gets to enjoy these luxuries. In fact, she would be treated like someone with deadly and contagious disease every “month”. Equality and empowerment should begin at home. Girls are constantly reminded that her primary duty is to be a good wife and a loving mother. Why a son is not taught to be a good husband and a great father. Girl is trained in such a way that she would never pass derogatory comments on men or tease them. Why can’t the boy be trained in similar lines?
Women’s Day can be celebrated at its true spirit only when there is no woman who suffers from gender discrimination. When such a day dawns, we can celebrate – not just as a women’s day but as the victory of entire humanity. Till then, let’s focus to be a human being first, empathetic and supportive before being a man/woman!