Indian Women Power
Indian Women Power
By Suresh Gajwani
I have often pondered why our country is stuck in neutral gear while the world keeps galloping by us. As Indians we do so well abroad, but back home we sometimes get mired in small, petty and selfish acts.
Our country has many challenges, including the deep-rooted “corruption” at every level of our government and politics. The focus of this article is to bring attention to a plight maybe even worse for our country: The treatment of over 50% of our population as second class citizens.
Just how this came to be is debatable, but the fact remains, we are a paternalistic society. The male member of the family is usually the lead in the family. His authority continues to increase as he grows older, leading to consequences:
- Females in the family are delegated to minor roles and their input to key decisions is given minimal weight.
- That patriarch, especially in a fast-changing world of technology, makes questionable decisions, since there is no tradition of fair debate within the family.
These two inter-related factors are hurting our country. Males are not always the best leaders. Moreover, trivializing the contribution of our women is demoralizing and can lead to bad decisions. Thus the need to treat women “exactly equal” to the men and allow them equal status at the discussion table.
It starts with the father, who may feel as though he owns the daughter and is duty-bound to save her for another male, the “son-in-law,” as part of this well-crafted conspiracy of male dominance. Girls are treated as temporary wards of the family and are given minimal support required for a successful marriage. Overnight, after marriage she is expected to switch sides, accept 100% loyalty to her NEW family and cut all ties with her birth family. There may well have been some justification for this several centuries ago when India was primarily an agricultural society. The same justification does not apply in today’s world, making this treatment completely unacceptable.
No one owns her. No one has the right to tell her what is right or wrong. No one has the right to place arbitrary limits and expectations on her to fit the narrow agendas of the family, community, or religious leaders (who perpetuate the myth: “Your husband is your God.”). They are all active participants in this male-dominant society.
Only SHE has the right and the responsibility to make decisions that will affect her life.
To be fair, this may not be a struggle between male and female, but a struggle between those who benefit from this arrangement and those who don’t. For example, the mother-in-law, who may run family affairs may mistreat younger women in a joint family just as badly as the male leaders!
This is a struggle for power. History teaches us that those with power never relinquish it voluntarily. Be ready to fight for it! Remember that this is a vast conspiracy that has been successfully fine-tuned over centuries. It is so deeply ingrained in our culture that it will be very hard to reverse it in a short time. But the time to start reversing this is NOW.
Accept the fact that revolution does not happen with “requests”, “be nice,” or “be lady-like” comments. Every woman, age 18 to 88, must stand-up and demand her birthright of Equality. She should have the freedom and support to accomplish whatever she wishes and in whatever role she elects to play, without being encumbered by artificial limits and guidelines imposed by outside influences.
We accept that this problem is not unique to India, and that there are other cultures who treat women just as or worse than our culture does. This is not a race to see who is worse. It is a race for equality, fair play and a desire to unleash the power of our smartest half of the population and the betterment of our country.
Recently, I learned about Kangana Ranaut, and she has become my new hero. She has defied all societal norms, fought many tough battles and reached a pinnacle in her acting career at a young age of 30. Learn more about Kangana, by listening to her interviews on Burkha Dutt, Aap Ki Adalat, and other major news programs. Kangana is a symbol and potential role model for our women, and there are so many like her among us. If we could create millions of Kanganas, we would be the most advanced country in the world.
Do not fool yourself into believing that this struggle will be easy. The opposition has been practicing this art for thousands of years. They have control on the finances, media, and the political and religious classes. You will see some very innovative and impressive theatrics to preserve the “status quo.” If you believe in two simple facts: 1) You are an equal; and 2) You are ready to accept the responsibility and authority to run your own life, then long term victory is sure to be yours.
If someone took your child, how hard would you fight to get him/her back? Here, they have done something worse – they have stolen you and your child. How can you not fight for that?
My personal request to all my sisters:
- Do not accept bad behavior simply because it is part of our tradition. Of course you should love, respect and care for our elders, but you also need to take charge of your own life.
- Demand your birthright of Equality and do not settle for anything less.
- When you succeed, your family and our country will be the biggest beneficiaries.
Humanity will take a giant step forward when women attain “true equality.”