Celebrate Women, but not just on 8th March

International Women’s Day is being celebrated across India, especially in corporate world. Even in our condominium a program has been organized tomorrow to celebrate Women’s Day. Women are being recognized for their courage, achievements, sacrifice etc. My phone would probably stay busy tomorrow, with calls and messages wishing me a Happy Women’s Day.

I don’t want to sound gloomy or pessimistic, but I really wonder if we as Indians should put up the farce of celebrating Women’s Day. I watched “India’s daughter, the documentary on Nirbhaya case”. Being an Indian, I was not surprised to hear the views of the defense lawyers and other educated people about ‘women’, ‘what they should and should not do’. However, I was shocked at the brazenness with which they publicly expressed their views.

I count my blessing every single day for having born in a family that genuinely believed in gender equality. My father never regretted not having a son, he supported me in all my endeavors. I was fortunate to receive similar treatment from my in-laws, my husband had always been a pillar of support. But, I also know that I come under those lucky few women in our country. My heart reaches out to those millions of girls and women who are treated as second class citizens. Worse still, are those who are forced to live with double-standards – where only an outward façade of equality is maintained.

What women need is not mere celebration, wishes and honor on one day – the 8th of March! What they need is respect and genuine equality in every sense – education, opportunities, life (social and professional) and food – yes, even food! I knew few families where the daughters or daughters-in-law were given less or inferior food and were passed up for their brothers or husbands.

Celebrating women really is not about celebrating Women’s Day. The only way to celebrate women is by truly respecting them and valuing them for what they are and what they stand for – not one day in a year, but every single day of their lives. This calls for nothing short of a social revolution in India.

First and foremost, it demands education for both men and women. And helping women become financially independent. A financially independent women will have the courage and strength to stand up to her rights.

Second, eliminating the dowry system – a social curse which forces the parents to look at their daughters as a burden.

Finally, changing the mind-set, beginning with women – getting them to believe that women are no way inferior to men. It’s important to begin with women as the first inequality faced by a baby girl is usually dished out by her mother!

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