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What Takes us Forward

Sarabjeet D Natesan

Author: Sarabjeet D Natesan

Date: Fri, 2017-01-20 12:45

It must have been love but it’s over now, from the time that we met to the time I ran out…  these lines adequately sum up a lot of our life experiences; of moving on, of changing tracks, of walking a different path, of doing other things.  Except that the love doesn’t end.  Walking out of friendships formed in school, in colleges, at the workplace; we move on but don’t give them all up.  The moments stay in our minds in some corner, gathering dust.  Our dreams, ambitions, aspirations and hopes sometimes willingly given up, sometimes to make a parent happy, other times to make a relationship work or still because the tiny hands that clutched our hands reached all the way to our hearts and many more times, because the hand that gently rocked our cradle now needs a helping hand to pry open the locks of memories, to press the nozzle to run the dry eye and to give succour to someone who sat up endless hours to see us through our tough times.

But that too does not last, in a matter of moments, years pass, generations change and life goes on.  And after having merged some of our identities with those of the work that we do; we the women often lose our assurance and self-belief. We ask for help and are often very apologetically happy to proclaim that 'I don't really understand all this'. Forget how to set up a smart phone, how to set up a ‘wi-fi’ connection, how to make and deliver a presentation. Eventually even forget that the meaning of the word ‘manager’ starts and ends with them running a house, negotiating a school PTA, and talking to a doctor about an ailing parent’s prescription.

Women are happy being a sub-sect, taking the second place. The moral sense of purpose of being a woman is glorified; our tolerance, our reticence, our fortitude, our ability to bear pain, our ability to sacrifice, our ability to say no, our inability to say no, all are given super human God-like capability.  We are mothers, sisters, daughters; we are submissive, we are quiet, we are honourable, we are moral, we are saints. 

Women never complain; ask no questions, deserve no answer.  Morality besieges us, a sense of timidity surrounds us and keeps telling us, repeating in our head, whispering in our hearts, from one generation to another, constantly, every day, day upon day, that good girls don’t talk back, good girls are not aggressive, good girls are obedient, good girls are just plain good.  So be a good girl.  Be good, be silent, be sacrificing, and be submissive.  The rest of the good things will follow.  Only then your purpose will be revealed and you will be complete.

Civilization and its tenets talk of equality, of rights, of opinions, of parity, of principles of fairness.  Yet for a women it provides no reciprocity in laws; in legislation, in implementation. A complete vacuum! Nothing enters the black hole of indifference, nothing comes out.  Surrounded by this meaninglessness, the bell jar becomes the glass house. A glass house without curtains...  The inhabitants exposed to the outsiders, vulnerable, exploited and defenseless. And the society loses its women. Standing in a crowd; alone, lonely and scared, waiting for someone to recognise them as equals, as worthy, as contributors and above all, as human beings. 

In this darkness, one needs shoots of hope, of empowerment and of resilience.  Of equality; of others standing up for us.  Of a long human chain that supports us, prevents us from falling and if we do, forms a cushion that protects us from pain.  It can be other women, it can be a friend, it can be a spouse, it can be a parent, it can be an institution, it can be just about anybody who does not judge, who does not assign blame and who just stands by our side. Silently, simply and respectfully. 

What takes us forwards should make us stronger, not slide us down.  And that takes both courage and heart.

 

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Comments

I read all blogs of Sarabjeet Natesan and I must say "awesome". Written directly from soul without bringing complex heads and logic. Need to read more stuff like these. Not dry boring things..

Sometimes I break down and sometimes world breaks me into pieces. Sometimes I am torn and sometimes world brings me to rags from riches. But I promise, I will come back to self again and every time I will come back, I will re bond with myself and come back stronger than ever. When love will try to drown me, I will swim across swiftly. You have very correctly said madam, we only are responsible in one or the other way because we have given that freedom to people to come and hurt us. We sideline our dreams, our ambitions and our aspirations to pave way sometimes for family, sometimes for children, sometimes for husband and sometimes for the person whom we love. If I ask a question why do we do this? Probable answer would be because we weigh the value of sacrifices more than dreams. Is it really we or is it our culture? May be we are taught this way that it has engrossed an impression in our minds. Why cannot we learn to say No? Why cannot we put our demands in front of the world? It’s high time now that we put down our points and negotiate. Let us come together and say that we don’t need glory, but we need equality. It’s only the strength of WILL that will pave the way forward.

I shall start with the title and say that it is very apt. The beginning of the article is quite strong and conveys the intended message pretty straight and simple. However, it seems little extra emotions have been poured in, especially in the last section of the article. And for that matter, I must say that I totally agree with the views outlined here. The number of compromises that a woman does in her life time, especially post-marriage, is huge, in fact immeasurable. Most of the things that a woman does are considered as “thankless” jobs, more of the supposed-to-be-done type. In spite of a host of measures being taken for empowerment of women, getting them at par with men, socially, there exists a mindset in the society that women should come next to their male counterparts. As is rightly concluded in the article, moving ahead is the only way better things can be achieved. Till then, take a bow to all the women who dignify their surroundings, wherever they are.

I feel that equality for women in all fields begins with imbibing of confidence in a girl during her bringing up stage. It is this confidence that the women lack which makes her feel that she is in need of others standing up for her. This is what is lacking in our society. The reason may be cultural or religious beliefs. I believe that if a girl is brought up giving the same amount of freedom as a boy enjoys, she will not require any one standing up for her, supporting her or preventing her from falling. So, it is the mindset of both the man and women who bring up their girl child which needs to be addressed.

You have amazingly uncovered the myth and expose truth. In the world which we call civilized, everyday women are neglected and away from the rights, just because they are women. Just because she is a girl, parent think she is burdensome. Well before the birth we abort our girl child, but we need a beautiful, brilliant and well educated woman in our house to take up a role of housewife. We hear everyday talks on gender equality. But the result is, after 70 years of Independence, the female sex ratio 933 per 1000 males. The women strength in parliament is just 12%. There are only 1 women judge out of 23 in Indian Supreme Court and 54 women judges out of 634 judges in State High courts. Now the time has come to speak by action. Only 33% quota will not help for equality. The major focus must be on change in mindset. The mindset towards girl child, necessity of higher education, women’s social contribution and economical contribution. As a son, as a husband and as a father, a man must have enough sensitivity and due respect towards women of his family and his society. Yes we all have to move forward. Let's start a new beginning...!!!

India is known for its rich cultural heritage & diversified religions. Indian society consists of people belonging to almost all kinds of religious beliefs & in every religion women are given a special place. Every religion teaches us to treat women with respect and dignity. But somehow the society has developed various types of ill practices, both physical and mental. Irrespective of having several norms, laws & reforms still women remain subdued &submissive as rightly mentioned in your article due to the dominant & superiority male society. Legal barriers to women’s work in certain industries and occupations are much more common—100 out of 173 economies, prohibit women’s participation in certain economic activities. Time has come for a radical change in reforms & laws to empower women to to decide for their own lives or inculcating such abilities in them so that they could be able to find their rightful place in the society. Women are the creators of the society & at times they can be the destroyer of the same. Equality in rights with men & creating awareness educating and sensitizing male members of the society towards a feeling of togetherness and equality among them can only make our nation a United Powerful Country.

The word courage originates from the Latin term ‘cor’, which means heart and refers to the ability to follow our heart. Being brave means to be ourselves, to express what we feel and think. Many women choose silence over voicing their needs, may be that appears secure to them. For many their mind screams that they run the risk of being judged, ridiculed, removed, boycotted, or not to be loved. This leads to the feelings of self-exploitation because we failed to push beyond necessary boundaries by remaining silent. When we burn out to the threshold then we start ruining our relationships and friendships. We must realize that over adversities many have risen and stood for themselves and others. We should not forget the contributions made by many such women who voiced for all of us. The article describes the chores of a typical Indian housewife, we discover that she is a leader, she is a manager, and she is a bread-earner. This brings out the fact that women are not lesser beings. They are the other half of the world. Without them and their perseverance no child would have come to live a day of his/her life. But, we decide to only focus on the other side – i.e. she is available always and deserves no appreciation for her contributions as she is “supposed” do all of it. The stereotypes faced by women that they are supposed to be a good girl, a good woman, a good wife, a good mother are highlighted in this article. The emphasis on how she is judged always at every step in her life is crucial to notice. Women should realize that this is their choosing also to accept being what others expect them to be. There should be a conscious effort from within to prove that they are not what their pasts have defined them, they are not what their past actions have been and they are stronger than what they perceive themselves to be. As a conclusion, one must always remember that courage is not the absence of fear, rather the ability not to be stopped by it. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of how courageous and amazing we are. The same instances, with which we define a typical Indian woman, show her courage to take care, nurture and take decisions also. The problem lies in seeing the flip side.

I would thank mam for writing and sharing with us such an expressive and deep blog. I completely agree with the views. If we see our mother or grandmother we will easily see how much sacrifice they have made. We have created for them a micro world consisting of their children, husband, limited friends, daily soaps and so on and they seem to be happy in that world. They have accepted it and they have been performing all their duties without fail. Why should it be expected that it will be the mother who will be having dinner at last? Why will anyone be tempted to ask if everything is normal if a husband serves all the food, feed the children and wife and be the last one to have the dinner? Mam has rightly posted the wrong ways the society has defined a good girl. It is highly unjustified when on one side it is being told that to be a leader you need to be aggressive too and on the other side it is stated that good girls are not aggressive. So is it that good girls should not be aspiring to be a leader? We should all respect the ‘female’ gender more specifically till that of last generations because of their internal strength, the sacrifices they have made. Nowadays situation has been better. Women are treated equally and it is not taken granted that they will be doing things which their last generations used to do. I hope that things will be further improved and society understands the value of both the gender and shows mutual respect to each other. I would once again thank mam for this beautiful blog.

The article shows us the other side of the story which we don’t see that often or which we tend to ignore, just thinking that it is only the duty of a woman to take care of everything in this world. How wrong we are, we tend to ignore the simple fact that it is because of them that a family stays united; it is because of them we are assured that we needn’t worry about our home because she is there in the form of a mother, a sister, a wife to take care of everything. We ignore the fact that she is human, somewhere deep inside she wants to live that life without rules, live life on her terms. She wants someone to hear what she has to say without her uttering a word. For someone to realize, acknowledge what she does every day for us. Why can’t we be there in every task she does and experience it for a single day in our life? Why can’t we stand alongside her, saying that “We Care” and “We are with you”? Why she is so scared to ask for her independence when it is already her right? Why even in the civil society a woman is looking to break the chains that we have tied her with? Is she the only one responsible for the family and for the society? We need to find out the answers for all these questions pretty soon, before we end up taking her life from her life. A social structure should be in place where the kids should be taught right from their childhood how special woman are. And not only the kids, men need to be sensitized about these issues too. They need to know, that they need to sit with the women in their family and hear them out, help them out, enable them because the family will only be enabled if the woman in that family are happy, content and not chained in the beliefs of others.

The passage talks about a women’s journey, the varied roles that she plays, the hardships she faces in the form of inequality which society has thrust upon her, as soon as she is born. It talks about the numerous sacrifices a woman makes like walking out of friendships in school, college; leaving her dreams, ambitions etc. to make a relationship work and that she is willing to act as a second fiddle in a relation out of will. It also talks about that the kind of mannerisms that are ingrained in girls from the beginning like be obedient, be silent, sacrificing, etc. I completely agree with author’s point of view on the atrocities faced by certain section of women, but at the same time I would also like to bring to her notice that in today’s world the inequality is reducing day by day. Yes, women of today also make lot of sacrifices, they play lot of roles, in fact today’s women is a working woman and has additional responsibilities, but society as a whole has become more supportive of women, husbands have become relatively more understanding and mother-in-law’s more accommodative and the laws have become more women friendly. Also, we have come a long way from age old rituals like ‘Sati’ which in today’s world seems like an atrocious thought. But overall, I would agree with the author that mindset though has started changing, issues like dowry is still prevalent, and overall society has a long way to go. It would require continuous education on various channels to sensitize a man to become more aware of what a woman goes through and that he needs to behave as a through gentleman while treating women.

Very well put ma’am. Being a woman is like an adventure. Since our birth till our last breath, we experience the love of mother, grandmother, sister, wife & daughter at different stages of life. Lucky are the ones who have got all of these. And everyone would agree to the fact that the level of love, care, and sacrifice in a woman is outstanding and untouchable. But this takes a lot of efforts from a woman. Being a woman myself, I can imagine the dilemma which we face every day when we have to take decisions about the family, work, friends, and self of course. Since, my childhood I have seen my mother doing all the household chores with all her dedication and selfless attitude. Not a single day of my life I have seen her not being available for us. As far as daily household work is concerned, she is never bored or upset that I have to do these things again, every day is a new day for her with full of excitement with the feeling of “This house is mine, This family is mine and I can do anything for them”. As human beings, we have a tendency to get angry or upset on people we stay with if they do not share the load of any joint responsibilities, but a mother, a grandmother, a sister and a daughter are the ones who can do anything for us without any expectations. As if that was not enough, when it comes to the health of their family members God knows from where the doctor comes within them and they take care of the sick family member at any odd hours of the day and night. I have witnessed all of these super-natural kinds of selfless powers of my mother and I love, admire, respect, and worship her for that. In our society, it had always been a by default rule that only girls would do household chores with her mother and she has to learn all this since her childhood without any option. But my mother never ever forced me to do anything in the house. Even if I do the work to help her out because I could not see her in stress, she always used to tell me to concentrate on studies, job etc. because she always wanted me to be competitive in this male dominated society. She never made me realise that I am less than any boy and would always encourage me to move ahead and pursue my dreams. She used to be upset when I used to compromise with my dreams or choices due to financial constraints and used to always push me towards my dreams. After my father’s demise when I was just 17, she is the one and only who always used to be by my side and never let me feel the absence of my father. She was and is my support system for life. I always wonder what is her motivation to be such selfless and caring. The answer I get is only one, our happiness is her lifeline. But somewhere she knows that females are left out in our society and still there are biases around. She have experienced that throughout her life and therefore she always wanted me to excel in whatever path I choose, so she pushed me to study, work hard, never lose hope, have faith in myself and above all enjoy my life to the fullest. The sacrifices which she has made are infinite and she never wanted me to do the same so she has taken all the possible actions to make me whatever I am today. But when I was growing up over all these years with her, somehow I felt that this selfless attitude, love and care are in-built in a woman as I also had these feelings for my near and dear ones. Now when I am married and I have responsibilities I understand that the most amazing feeling in this world is a smile on the face of dearies. That is I guess the most inspiring factor for a woman. But if the efforts of a woman are appreciated by the beneficiaries then that becomes the lifelong motivation for a woman to keep going. However as the time changes, if a woman is not valued and given an equal opportunity in the society even after all the sacrifices and struggle then it gets difficult to move on. A woman needs respect and recognition to achieve the unexpected. Any deal with the women is always beneficial as she always gives back multiples of what she gets. Imagine, if without anything in return a woman can do so much for the family, what she would do in today’s society and world at large if she is given respect and recognition which she deserves.

Professor Natesan started the article on a very different note and gradually she shifted the focus to the real issues that women are facing even today. Professor Natesan added a very unique flavor in writing about an issue that has been talked about a lot, especially in recent times, and still she made it sound interesting, engaging and remarkable. Starting off the article with the quote from one of my favorite songs “It must have been love” by Roxette and then talking about memories, friendship, dreams, hopes, and all that reminds me of a beautiful past, took me down the memory lane and made me read the article with great enthusiasm. In most of India, gender stereotyping starts right from the moment the gender of a baby is known. A girl child is brought up very differently from a boy. They are being prepared for cooking foods and raising family. They are made to believe that women should stay home, raise children, and shouldn’t raise voice and so on. However, I am a little bit optimistic about the present situation as, although a few in number, more and more women have broken the stereotypes, leaving a mark in the society and inspiring thousands. There are so many examples of women who are breaking the gender stereotypes; from occupying top positions in big companies/banks such as ICICI bank, Axis bank, PepsiCo, Britania etc, driving taxi, auto, bus or even train, climbing Mount Everest, to name but a few. When you get to hear the news such as “Indian acid victim walking the ramp at the New York Fashion Week”, “women in Chhattisgarh coming out together to ban alcohol in their village” or “a girl in a village in Bihar rebelling against her community for her right to education”, you know that the change is coming. Yes, it is a long way before we can say that we are coming out of the gender stereotyping, but we have already started, and we have started strong. Now the responsibility lies with every educated Indian to stand up for what’s right and challenge any kind of gender stereotyping.

The heart- touching blog “What takes us forward” is beautifully crafted over the challenges women face and addresses the fact that let the plight must move us up to the mountain and not to slide down through it. Swami Vivekanand quoted “It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing”. Hence in order to achieve the status as a Developed Country, India needs to empower women with Social and political rights, economical stability, judicial strength etc. The country cannot succeed if half of this are held back. There are many challenges women face in the journey to school and work. Inequalities and atrocities against women has largely been ignored. However, it’s the time now to ask “Why the hell not?” because when the sleeping women wakes up, the mountains move. Tell your negative thoughts that restricts you from growing more to Sit down and Shut up. Its time for we women to not held back but to move forward. A women with a vision empowers an empire of women to do more, see more and be more. Its time for us to be independent , strong and classy. Some women chose to follow men and some choose to follow their dreams. If you are wandering which to choose, just remember that your career is not going to wake up and tell you that “ I don’t love you anymore”. Your career is not going to stop you from growing more each day. All it will do is to empower you with each day passing. Dreams are the stuff that will fill your every living moment. So, Follow your dreams, they happened to you for a reason. A reason to climb mountains and to say to yourself “ I deserved it”. So, Dream it, Wish it, Do it.

As I was perusing this article, a little disarray emerged in my brain as I established, Change blended with Cooking to be somewhat differentiating yet when I completed the whole article and read the heading once more, the specks consequently associated and those concealed layers of insight, awareness and a little exhortation unfurled my heart and gave me with somewhat more inspiration about 'accepting the way things are' and how everything falls set up as it is bound to be. Regardless, how terrible and ghastly occasions happen, life goes on and we should go ahead to make a more improved and redesigned adaptation of the individual that we are currently. A few changes throughout our life can have a serious mental impact on us and it is of most extreme significance to make peace around then. It can in any frame, cooking is only a case for this situation yet critical thing is not discover peace by some impermanent means rather making our own particular peace in our souls, in our psyches, in our ordinary routine since we can never control the things that this life will discard at us or takes from us yet we will precisely know where to discover peace when we require it as we have made peace with ourselves. I trust, Change is the hardest yet the most huge piece of a person's life. The thing that every one of us need to see at some point or another in life is the contrast between, how now and then change is only a move and now and then it makes the type of a feeling, and how we have to manage both of these progressions in an unexpected way. There is no clear method for managing a change, you have to develop your own particular diverse routes relying upon the sort of individual you are however the reality remains the more we endeavor to comprehend change, the less demanding it gets the opportunity to adjust to it. A few people are resolute and determined about change and they confront even extreme issues when they need to manage it. My recommendation to them would be, To accept circumstances for what they are and drive nothing. Let everything transpire, assuming that whichever way it goes. It's for the best since we can never stop changes as Change is to some degree synonymous to living. On the off chance that you are not transforming, you are not living.

Each offering wonderfully crafted in the article which defines the various role a woman plays in her life time. It’s unfortunate but true that women do face discrimination. While few women take the second place happily others struggle to stand out. Though the Indian constitution provides equal rights for men and women and makes provision to improve the status of women in society, a majority of women are still unable to enjoy the rights and opportunities guaranteed to them. Women need to seek change in society's views, which includes changing how some men think, but it also includes changing how many women think. The real enemies behind gender stereotypes are ignorance, intolerance, stagnant societies that resist change, traditional value system, low level of literacy and lack of self-confidence due to family discouragement. Women are not able to resolve the conflict between new workplace and old domestic roles. In both rural and urban India, women spend a large proportion of time on home sustaining work. They are not able to respond to new opportunities and shift to new occupations due to house hold responsibilities. In Indian culture since very early periods, men have dominated women as a group and their status has been low in the family and society. The traditional joint family system confines women’s roles mostly to the domestic sphere, allocating them to second place, authority and power compared to men. Even in workplace women are frequently subjected to discrimination by both sexes. Qualified women may be passed over for promotions due to gender inequality. Jobs may be offered to a less qualified male applicant just because he is male. Many organizations and NGOs are working for the betterment of women. Things do not always work out in our favor but we need to sufficiently empower the women to combat gender inequality.

I would like to thank Professor Sarabjeet D Natesan for this thought provoking article. "Mind is never a problem but mindset is". Change in a system is taken very rarely without any resistance. So is women empowerment. I slightly differ from the opinion expressed in the article. Times are changing. The glass ceilings are getting open. The millennial woman no longer takes herself to be a scared, timid, exploited and defenseless gender. She is getting out of her shelled enclosures. She is no longer willing to sacrifice her financial independence. From the closed zone of domestic happiness, the millennial woman has broadened her horizons to all round happiness. Much credit has to be given to the transformation of the one-way compromise lane to a two-way adjustment lane. Man’s view of his and his wife’s role in the family has changed. The families have become more cooperative, understanding and cognizant of the challenges she faces. The society is viewing women as capable of playing in any field be it running a house to running a company. The above-mentioned views, however, apply more to the urban folk. The dim scenario in the rural drop is yet to change. Laws don't apply there. As I quoted in the beginning mindset is to blame. Although a completely fair world is still a dream, the world is not as dark as it was before. We have come a long way from women’s struggle for rights to vote. Several laws for empowering women such as prohibition of child marriage, protection from domestic violence, prevention of sexual harassment at workplace are in place. But much more than this has to change. Implementing gender diversity in schools, following right to education in true spirit, encouraging the girls for university and research studies, reducing gender pay-gap etc. should be of prime concern. I don't think women are happy to get their simple works done with the help of others. Rather they are willing to move ahead and be of help. They are ready to face and fight all odds and are eager to emerge as a completely confident personality. Only that others should grow to accept these changes for creating a safer and a better place for them.

I would like to say that I really enjoyed reading this blog of yours as it perfectly captures the problem that India is facing – women empowerment. I liked the structure of the blog as it starts from love, moving to the qualities a woman reflect and ending with one point in mind - moving forward. I really can’t find appropriate words to express my feeling after reading this article. Being a woman myself, I can relate and feel, the emotion and the energy in each and every word of the sentence. Normally, we try to neglect the female population (which consists of approx. 50% of the world) and consider them as inferior compared to male. I would like to ask this simple question that Where did this all started from? In almost all the holy books it is mentioned that a woman is as good and comparable as a man, then why do we make this discrimination in practical life? Why is it always the woman who are judged just because she is a ‘woman’? To be able to make the situation better in future, we need to start rolling the dice now. We (women) ourselves have to change our mentality against this male chauvinistic world, and show that we are as good as them and even better many a times. We have to start saying NO to those things which we don’t like and are just obtruded upon us. Why do women have to do all the household work? Why does she have to do the baby sitting her whole life? Now, when both the partners are equally capable and responsible, both of them should divide the workload amongst them. This change is gradually happening but needs to be strengthened a bit. A woman is as qualified to earn the livelihood as her counter-part and so, equal opportunity should be given to both to pursue their interest. As we say – “We have to start reflecting the change ourselves, before expecting it from others”. In the truest sense, empowerment can only be achieved when there is attitudinal change in society with respect to womenfolk, treating them with proper respect, dignity, fairness and equality. An environment should be created where women feels that she is equal and can raise her voice whenever there is a need. This is what will take us forward by making yourself independent and stronger.

I thank you for an interesting blog, professor. It actually took me thinking and jogging down my memory lane trying to recollect instances where being a ‘she’ has made a difference for me. There are parts of the blog I agree with and parts that I don’t. I would like to share with you my chain of thoughts below. I believe it takes courage to be a woman. To be able to bear the incessant pain and trouble we go through each month; to carry a child and be pleased to bear the pain; to leave behind one’s family and surname and start from scratch with a new set of people for someone you already love, or would be required to fall in love with. These are things that I believe are not totally in our control, so we are allowed to crib about these. But I take pride in having the heart of a woman, filled with courage and content, capable to share happiness, sorrow, health, and pain like no one else. I think a woman’s heart is by default one that makes her happy to give up things for siblings, be her mother’s friend, do everything to be her father’s strength. She is a listener, a selfless soul with the heart to sacrifice and an innate courage to take the ‘No’s’ thrown at her. But I also think that these qualities do not solely apply to women, they can apply to any human being with a good heart, who chooses to be a good human being and make life easier for others, even if that means losing out a bit of their own. Personally, I take pride in being through all that I mentioned above. These are all strengths that empower me. I would like to believe that I have been very fortunate in terms of how things have been for me – my father going against family to send me out of town to study, turning down a rishta that came for me and telling the party that I am studying and still have a future to establish, celebrating my successes as much as of my brother, enduring my failures and still being proud and supportive; my grandfather standing behind me and never letting his faith in my capabilities sour; most importantly, myself for not getting bogged down by the difficulties, taking everyone by storm at my education and workplace both with the capabilities of my heart and brains, for having the courage to stand up when I thought I was right and justified, for having the courage to go out and tell someone I like him, for being happy to share, for not giving up on myself. As for support, it is not just women who need support. Anyone who has the tendency to falter, to fall, to be afraid and to want to improve will need support from a person who can uplift them, not judge them, protect them and show them light. A man can need as much support as a woman, as can an LGBTQ. It only makes us more human to be vulnerable and have the guts to accept our deficiencies and call out for help. Who and how many come in for support might vary depending on how fortunate one is, but one is the best friend and guide of oneself is what I believe, after all, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light.”

An intriguing write-up, ma’am. It pretty much sums up the life of most Indian women of my mother’s age. It is a fact which most of us know, but one which only some of us will be willing to accept. Our society is very used to taking women for granted. Their responsibilities are more than that of many employed individuals – looking after the children, helping them with their studies, managing the kitchen as well as the entire household, taking care of the elders in the family and what not. Do we all appreciate our mothers for everything they do? We assume that it is the most important aspect of their lives – to take care of everybody else in the family. And if a woman is happily doing it without complaints, without being aggressive and without any arguments with her husband or her in-laws, she is cherished as the right woman for the family. But this does not mean that she is treated rightly. She is only expected to make more and more sacrifices for the family, because that is what women traditionally do in our country. I have encountered talented women in my life who are home-makers but not by choice. My aunt has a degree in hospital management and she had always wanted to work since her childhood. But my grandmother passed away and my grandfather was a heart-patient, so she had to give up on her dreams and stick to household work. She started living her dreams through her son, which again puts a lot of pressure on him. Even after twenty two years of her marriage, she has to ask permission from my grandfather if she could teach the kids in the neighborhood. She has given up watching TV, because he wants to watch news all the time. Her life is full of sacrifices and my entire family is aware of that. But were they able to do anything for her? Were they able to convince my grandfather when he was stubborn about certain things? The answer is no. We have accepted the fact that it is impossible to change the mindset of elders and have learnt to live with that. Having sacrificed many things for the sake of family, I expected my aunt to understand my passion to pursue an MBA. But I was shocked when she told me that it was better if I got married, since I already had a job. I understood that living amidst people of the same mindset, does affect your mindset too. We let the women sacrifice and we also make them believe that sacrificing is the best thing to do for a woman. Although we hear that mindsets are changing in many families, there are regions and communities where the problem still prevails. It lies in the hands of young people like us(both men and women) to make people understand the value of sacrifices mothers make and more importantly, prevent them from making further sacrifices and find ways for them to pursue things they want to. We should attempt to initiate the change we want to see.

“Because she is a woman!” My impromptu answer against a surprise question posed by one of my colleague some 18 years back- “Seems you care more your mother over father!”. Now, I look back to see as to whether it was a proper answer. All the women members in my family including my ‘Maa’ and women folk world over would not agree to what I had said- “Because she is a woman!” Right! Do women need to be cared, loved, protected, sympathised, glorified for being just women, right to be perceived as weaker sex. Has it got to do with our upbringing in a society full of hypocrisy! Absolutely wrong what we have been perceiving and engrossed over the years. It’s the mindset of the society at large, men and the other women, just has to change that we judge women without any bias, prejudice and bent on doing moral policing. I do not believe us debating about equal rights, empowerment, opportunity, women being weaker sex etc. etc. But why! Why we need to talk about when all of these are natural rights, as we enjoy, by itself and who we as men to give back to women. The need of the hour is the change in the mindset which can only be propagated through modern education and imbibing right value into our system. When we debate ragingly about women need to be stronger physically, mentally to stand against the evil of the other men, then we do not talk about of men requiring to have a stronger, educated and cultured mind. Boy! The time is changing and changing fast for good! It’s the hope against hope of change when we see the whole society of us applauding with pride, while teasing at those admire of machismo, when two of our girls brought laurels to the country in the last Olympic, when men had failed, just when millions in social media echoed saying “Beti Bachao Medal Pao”. Today, people with such mindsets are galloping in millions and tomorrow it would be in billions……for sure! We see hope when a tagline of a scooter advertisement campaign “why should boys have all the fun” becomes immensely popular among the masses echoing the sentiment. I strongly agree with the sentiments being echoed by Ms. Natesan but believe would have been more appropriate had a bit of optimism been reflected in the post for we all live in the society with positivism. The quotes that I liked most is “….it can be anybody who just does not judge”. Yes! – the men and the other women folk together. The other women folk need to live behind prejudice of old believe that women are always second to men. Women got to play distinct roles of uplifting and standing out themselves not waiting for someone else to do it for them. Women also need to come out of that distinct undercurrent of meanness and negativity which have been plaguing them over and over.

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