Celebrating the woman on International Woman's Day, March 8th.
Can you think of how far we actually have come girls? Today there is a graduation stream on Women’s Studies in Mumbai’s SNDT Women’s University!! And for the first time in the history of education in India and South-east Asia, women and their issues are going to become the subject matter in the Indian University System.
If I were to take birth again, I would choose to be born in the present times. Today perhaps is the best time for a girl child. I mean, look around you and you will find a lady President, Pratibha Devisingh Patil who succeeded Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam after defeating her rival Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and the first woman to hold the office. While the country stands in ovation and deep respect for her, the same country also seems to accept a Sunny Leon, a porn star as a bolliwood lead actress. Our country has accepted all forms of feminism and that is coming a long way.
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy , a journalist and film maker from Pakistan on getting Pakistan’s first Oscar for her film “Saving Faces”, says feminism is the feeling of being safe; in your skin, in your house, in the office and on the streets. Feminism is the pursuit of these conditions, and all of the struggles that you have to go through in order to ensure that they are available to yourself and other women. Sharmeen in her film has boldly tackled one of most heinous crimes committed against women in Pakistan- acid attack, and deals with the lives of the survivors. She has succeeded in addressing the crime against these women, the dire need of awareness and collective action. For an Islamic country as hers where women are in ‘burkhas’ ,she has certainly empowered other women not only in her country but elsewhere by her exemplary success and her courage .
The vegetable vendor who comes at my door every other day, to me is empowered, in the real sense of the word. Dressed in bright saree, vermillion ‘ sindoor’, glass bangles and flowers on her chignon-knotted hair, she smiles every time I meet her and asks me if I have had breakfast.She sells me the same vegetable everyday- methi, palak and coriander leaves but there is something new I learn about her everyday! She has two mobile phones- one for personal and the other for business only; that she takes care of 50% of the household expenses; that her husband adores her and bought her gold bangles recently; and that she sends her two children to English medium school. Irrespective of your income level if a woman can earn her own livelihood and is in a position to extend support to her family economically, in addition to all the care and nurturing that she does, I think she is empowered.
On International Woman’s Day, a lot of women from all walks of life talked about what’s the best and worst thing about being a woman and their message to other women.“It is the inner endowment deposited in me by motherhood which makes it easy for me to manage, nurture, balance, maneuver, love, chastise when necessary. We are the power that sustains the world.”- Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale, 40,CEO and Founder at Stop the Abuse of Rights (NGO) Nigeria.
“ I am proud to be a woman because deep in me I know we have the capacity of creation, to give birth!! The worst part comes hand in hand with the patriarchal system of society that takes advantage of women’s shyness and weaker physical strength!”-Konika Khuraijam, Professor and Founder of House of Elegance, Imphal, Manipur.
“The best part of being a woman is love. A woman portrays the human beauty, one that was missing in a man. International Women’s day is a day to stand together on our ground as girls, women and mothers to make the world a better place. Time to aim higher, time to dream big, time to walk towards and on our dreams” – Achieng Beatrice Nas, 29 Communications Officer at Build Africa Uganda.
“Especially for the women in India - You are one of the strongest women the Earth has given birth to. You are still unaware what potential you have and the day you rise to it, you will fly beyond your expectations .Show the world, you can !”- Diya Dutta,25, Informational Technology Analyst at Tata Consultancy Services Kolkatta.“The best part of being a woman is having a woman’s kind heart. A girl child is the aura of the family . You can know how warm a home is by knowing the woman of the house. She can light up a dull workplace by her presence and add softness to a harsh task by her kind words and empathy.”- Geeta Manhas, Squadron Leader, Indian Air Force.
“Women can experience the joy of bringing a new life into the world which no other can; can feel the pain of another woman like its our own pain; can add makeup to hide either our painful sleepless nights, hangovers or flaws so no one can know what we’ve been up to in our personal life back home and can carry half our world everywhere we go in those fancy little or big purses we always have.”- Priya Chauhan, 26, works at I & M Bank of Kenya at Eldoret .
“The best part of being a woman is giving birth because it gives you immense pleasure being a mother and also lends you an upper hand in a man’s world because he can do everything under the sun but can’t give birth and to top it up he himself is born out of a woman. !”- Sabina Parvez Warjri, Proprietor of Hotel Zara Residence Shillong and former Miss Shillong.“I guess the best and worst part of being a woman lies in her emotions, best because of the variety of emotions we are blessed with as a girl, and worst because these emotions only lead to stress and depression at times.”- Bhumika Baveja, a student from Mumbai and a master blogger.
“Pink and pretty dresses, Jane Austen novels, chocolate and flowers. Smiling and laughing, grace, babies and the gift of motherly love, strength softened with tears, endurance and endless hope, best friends all over the world, and sisterhood.”- Aimee Knight, San Antonio, Texas works in World Pulse. “The best part of being a woman for me is to be able to cry whenever I feel like.”- Rinki Singh, 28, Southwest Airlines, Hayword, California.
Mrs Jiwanlata Chanam, 65,a senior army officers’ wife has a special message for all the women out there, “ Because the strength of our children, their future and the family bond lies on us, be strong and never lose faith.” Another army officer’s wife, young Kavita Yadav Jaswal from Pune says, “The best thing about a woman is her warmth and affection towards her family. She is always praying for the well being of her family; makes huge sacrifices as daughter/mother/wife, and never complains about it and it is for this quality of hers that bonds her family together. Though she is fragile but at tough times a woman stands like a rock behind her family.”
Avril Unger, 24, professional dancer and choreographer, Bangalore smiles broadly on being asked what she would like to tell women across the world on this day, “ My message to all other women out there is do what you do to the best of your abilities. In your heart be free and live life to the fullest. Embrace womanhood and feel complete .And wish you all a happy woman’s day!!!!”
Ajao Joseph Olayinka from Nigeria, Strategic Partnership Manager , Google has a clear message, “ Be the best that you can be, and take more positive advantage of your feminine power.” Ajao is passionate about social entrepreneurship and is the founder of GloballyEducated winning awards in 10 countries.
To all the beautiful women out there, here is wishing you a happy woman’s day!!Let us say goodbye to illiteracy, oppression, child marriage, dowry and related violence, domestic violence, sexual abuse elsewhere and at work, under payment of wages, trafficking, gender based abortions, control over our fertility, eve –teasing and discrimination.
Keep the faith.
* Urmila Chanam
Humanitarian having worked with United Nations Organization
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