March 8 is celebrated worldwide as International Women’s Day to salute the spirit of womanhood and her role in the society. But in India this year, the list of reasons favoring women to celebrate this day is shorter than those convincing us not to celebrate.
Through the years, Woman’s Day has come down to being a commercial day for the urban Indian woman to pamper themselves with attractive discounts on spa and shopping. But what about those 70% of women who are living in smaller towns, or villages? Even for that matter, looking at the crime rates on women in India, do we urban women have enough reasons to celebrate Women’s Day? Are these 24 hours every year enough to remind the country that women need to be respected, not raped, they need to be treated as a human and not a thing to sell?
While talking to a few lady friends and colleagues, I could gauge the anger and frustration filled in their hearts looking at the fact that, even today, more than half of the Indian women are struggling for a decent respectful living. In fact some of their thoughts jostled me:
“There is so much that I do every day of the year. I study, I work, I raise families, I run countries, I give, I take rarely, and I struggle continuously. But still there is so much that is done to me. I am raped, paraded naked in front of villages, I am sold into prostitution, I am told what to do and what not to, I am spoken at and sometimes I am even burnt or kicked. To enumerate all of this in one day is deteriorating, insulting almost.”
“Dear Indian Men, my rights are not your charity. So please don’t pat yourself on the back when you be nice to me on this day just to satisfy your guilt, if there is any to begin with. I have been wriggled hard and moved beyond meekly, just to be treated like a thinking human being. And almost after a century now, when some of you have recognized our efforts, there are double of you who are still looking to put us down somehow or the other. I was always a woman, but I had to remind the world that I am human too.”
“It’s women’s day, does that make you Indian men feel that the left 364 days belong to you and for you to treat us anyway you want? Stop behaving inhuman like you did to the many girls whom you raped, killed, abused or mistreated. I, being an Indian woman, refuse to celebrate a day to mark my existence.
It reduces me to exactly what I don’t want to be, a variance that does not fit in the regular working of things beyond its reproductive organs and hence needs special consideration. I am all that you are and so much more. I don’t want an empathetic pink parade or a candle march once in a while, to separate me from you because that negates my equality. It’s for you to be a better human, and stop your fellows of these callous deeds. When that happens, India will be a better country for us woman and every day will be a human’s day.’
Undoubtedly these are thought provoking words. With all of us women hoping for the mindset of Indian men to change soon, we also need to make our fellow women realize the change, and not blame other women for wearing western wear, or working late, for the increasing crime rate. Ladies, we need to gear up to stand for a better India for us tomorrow, so we can celebrate Women’s Day in its true spirit.