The jury is still out on whether a special day is merited for women who form a natural half of the world’s population. However, those who do appreciate, say that it at least brings to fore issues related to women’s safety, health, nutrition, her status in family and society and the many problems that she faces. A back –of- the- envelope survey in my MBA class puts my female students at the difficulty to list the restrictions at home or outside. Some say it’s only the late night timings that they have to adhere back home. Some are aware they face problems, but they have found a way out. One chirpy girl said, there are restrictions, but there are also a host of things out there in the world where I can prove my mettle and achieve something. It is not the same elsewhere, education being the biggest differentiator.
Women empowerment begins at home and ends with high levels of education. It begins with the right kind of parenting where gender does not form the deciding factor for privileges like food, clothing, and education. I have plenty of students whose parents have pinned hopes on their daughters rather than the son and providing them with quality professional education in spite of great difficulties. More of such parents are needed. Daughters need to be seeded with dreams and provided the strength to dream big. I read somewhere that all parents need to provide their children is roots and wings. So true when it comes to daughters.
We, the people of Belagavi, have seen very little if any discretion when providing for education to daughters. Exceptions do exist, but our city’s culture has enabled scores of proud daughters to complete schooling, get the education and have a career. It’s another matter that there are still plenty of girls from Belagavi who willingly opt to not have a career or work. Not that career should be the sole goal in life, but then a large potential of the population stays at home and is not part of the nation’s growth saga. I recall Ms. Soniya Netalkar narrate her experience of Japan where the government took active steps to bring this potential workforce back to the organization by providing flexible timings, plentiful maternity leaves, and other policies. Perhaps the government must chip in here.
All said financial independence brings a lot of empowerment in the true sense. Most of the domestic exploitation happens due to the woman’s dependence on the sole earning member of the family- the husband. Money, key family decisions, inheritance are some factors that women still struggle with. If the woman does not wish to venture out for earning, work must reach her home. Make her life meaningful, purposeful. Families must make it a natural course of action that the woman is consulted for key family decisions like investments, weddings, education of the kids, etc. And families alone can instill respect for women among the kids from a young age. Especially the man bears the responsibility to exemplify his respect for the wife, the mother, and sister at home. Kids emulate. Good and bad. Raise a kid who has seen his father respect his mother. Who has seen him reprimand when she is not. Women empowerment is a gradual but dynamic process that begins and ends at home. Only then can we think of workplace safety, travel safety and the like.
Our city has had its share of women stalwarts in the field of education, medicine and social work. We have seen a surge in the number of women in entrepreneurship of late. This trend must flourish. Women do not want to be ‘Same’ as men, all they want is to be looked at as equals. They know they are different, they have their own strengths. They are great planners, great at handling people and strong on empathy. They make great leaders and managers. Allowing them to leverage their strengths is not such a big burden, is it? Being a woman is so natural. So exhilarating.
And every single day, not just one. Just let her be. Let her take wings and fly. Then every day will be women’s day. And men’s day. Rather, Human’s day!