Modern Indian women are breaking the shackles. But are they really doing so, asks SEEMA SAXENA
In the metros and major cosmopolitan cities, some women, undoubtedly, get opportunities to use their talents and develop wings to soar high in the sky. But what about the rest of the women in small towns and villages?
Naive girls from small towns and villages who want to break away from the shackles of country life often end up disillusioned. There are some who have the guts to think straight, who are not gullible enough to fall for men who lure them with false promises of security and marriage. Street-smart, they manage to achieve what they want, become bold and confident and refuse to take nonsense.
However, for many other women, it’s a different story. But are they docile enough to agree to whatever is planned for them by their male counterparts?
A woman in India feels secure if there are male relatives, aka family members around to protect them. If there are none, she may be harassed by all and sundry. In the so-called lower strata of society, women are forced to live with an alcoholic husband and many times, daughters have to be submissive to their father’s will.
Even women from educated families are supposed to give away their property rights to their brothers.
Even if she is struggling with financial difficulties, she dare not ask help from parents for the fear of displeasure from her brothers and her sisters-in-law. She willingly decides not to put an extra burden on her family, perhaps because she feels obligated to them for spending a lot on her marriage.
Are women really so pliable and dependent?
Do we not require help centres in every locality where young girls and women can get guidance and help? And, even if there are helplines for women, are they really working and effective?
How many orphan girls become victims of the human trafficking mafia? Can we really claim to be a country where women are worshipped as deities?
Things have changed, it is claimed. Society has transformed, we are told. Education is free for the girl child, it is said. There are government schemes for the future of the girl child. Women do not die in child birth. There are better health services now. How true are these claims?
Is India really a better place for women now?
Yes, it seems to be, only if there are people around to protect her. Yes, women have made a mark in politics. We had Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister of India. Pratibha Patil was the President. We have fiery politicians like Mamata Banerjee.
We have women sarpanch(es) in villages, though the real power lies in the hands of their husbands. We have a woman finance minister, Nirmala Seetharaman. Now we have a woman President Draupadi Murmu.
But how have these women changed the destiny of Indian women, as a whole, is yet to be seen.
Here I would like to mention the Red Brigade of Lucknow, currently under the direction of Usha Vishwakarma, who is helping sexual assault survivors and teaching girls in UP to be physically fit and strong to thwart any kind of sexual abuse. As UP and Bihar are infamous for treatment meted out to their women, she says it is only education which can help women break shackles. Haryana has special schemes for promoting the girl child. In India, education is free if a couple has only a girl child.
Where then lies the problem?
The shackles are age-old and rusty. The powerful man wants to suppress the so-called weak woman, exploit and take advantage of her. This mindset needs to be tackled and changed.
Women are not objects of pleasure, but play a significant role in shaping society and culture. We need to give respect to women for her role as mother, wife and daughter. The dignity of women as mothers needs to be upheld so that it is at the highest rung.
It so happens that if a woman chooses to marry by her choice, she loses support of her family. If she is a single mother taking care of her kids, society should support her and help her to finance her children’s development. Widows, old and young, who need financial support should be provided with jobs.
There are many women to look upon as inspiration. But it is only the courage and will of each and every Indian woman to uplift and break age-old shackles that will help women stand on their feet firmly, and mould the future of the country.
Financial security is absolutely essential for women. Every woman should have the right to earn for herself with dignity. Women should stop looking at themselves from a man’s perspective. She should be wise and strong enough to face all challenges.
The multifaceted women of modern India should have the firm conviction to do everything of their choice, on par with her male counterparts.
She has to break free of the notion that a woman’s essential quality is beauty. She needs to understand the value of intelligence, technology, commerce, politics and security to sustain life and live it to the fullest.
She has to step out of her home to mould herself in the new image of multifaceted women in tune with the new age and developments that the country is undergoing.
But it needs to be understood by every woman that whatever she decides to be, her inner instincts are to care and nurture. To run after mere materialism, ignoring the natural instinct of nurturing a family, will make women, emotionless robots. Her better understanding of care and nurturing, can really work to her advantage in a managerial role at the work place.
Women have to understand that jumping in every facet of life at the urge of opportunities and corporate requirement also involves the need to preserve their identity as women and mothers first. Women should have the discretion to make right decisions rather than ending up as a part of the rat race. She needs to understand that intelligence and wisdom is what she should lean on.
Although some women are showing a progressive change, as to how they perceive their lives, they still need the support of society to empower and back them up. Therefore, whenever women comes to power, they should make it a point to take maximum advantage of making the right changes, which are beneficial for their own gender.
Women participation in politics will help them to uplift society and themselves. Women can be assets in cleansing politics.
Ultimately, only women really know the problems they face. No committees can take decisions for her.
Seema Saxena is an avid writer and blogger who writes about practicality and spirituality in life. She lives in Jaipur.
Featured Image: President Draupadi Murmu