Often articles have been written on "Women's Day" by women. I ask why can more men not take the initiative of offering constructive thoughts on this topic?
The following thoughts are not based on my readings of any scholars or social activists on this subject, so there are no references/bibliography to offer. These ideas are my personal humble offering on this worthy honorable occasion.
This day has been popularly proclaimed as Women's Day. In itself this term does not convey much about its significance. To make it self-explanatory, one could have called it Women's Emancipation Day. This is to indicate the importance of freedom to women, after them having been subjected to a long list of social evils, many of which are attributable to the 'thinking' and 'actions' of men towards women over a long period of time.
Some of these thoughts and actions are attributable to our upbringing in a certain culture, geographic plate, time period and the prevalent customs of the time, which conditioned our thought processes regarding the respective roles of the men versus women, and the individual and societal expectations resulting therefrom. Collectively, we can and often do attribute the state of a society at any time often to these reasons, without pondering enough on the corrective action(s).
Be these the causes, what is more important is our INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY to bring in a change. This means AWAKENING OF CONSCIOUSNESS in each of us, man and woman alike, though our reasons may be different. The reason for woman is to earn her rightful place denied to her not for decades, but for centuries. And the reason for man is self-purification after, knowingly or unknowingly, having caused, directly or indirectly, any injustice to some woman some place some time.
One may not have been a direct party to the injustice, but having knowledge of injustice to a woman anywhere, and not having done some thing that one could have done to alleviate the situation has to be enough reason for this AWAKENING.
Therefore, I do not look at WOMEN'S DAY as a day for celebration and proclamations, but a day of reckoning for both men and women alike, to see where we are and how much more we have to go to help women (our daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, neighbors) get their rightful place at home, at work, in society, and everywhere.
It all has to begin in the mind, which must accept without question that daughters are as precious as the sons, that women are equal (rather better) part of the society, recognizing their contributions, capacity for love and forbearance.
So as an individual, where can any of us begin to act? What are the action items (for both men and women)? Here I offer my thoughts with humility.
1.We can honour this day (and honour woman and womanhood) by each of us taking an inventory of our life experiences where any girl/women was subjected to emotional and/or physical abuse. This expression covers a gamut of possible events we may have seen since our childhood.
2.We can then try to categorize these events in groups/titles, based on the kind, severity, age, impact, etc.
3. We can take self-inventory of the times when there was something within our power to act, and for some reason we did not act at all, or not acted in time. This will help us create a new RESOLVE to act in a timely and effective way in the future.
4. We can compare our notes of 3 above with our friends and associates, and draw strength from them and/or impart strength to them with exchange of ideas. This will help us overcome our inhibitions, if any, in moving forward on this rather delicate change in society at micro-level, with the clear potential of ushering in a change at the macro-level.
5. It is easy to look for faults outside of us, when we may be having cob webs in our own closets. It is hard to see oneself in the mirror, but this is what we may have to do, if we are sincere and true to ourselves in earnest.
For this self-introspection, in addition to our own assessment of ourselves, we may have to be bold to ask our own family members about their assessment of how we operate/conduct ourselves, especially in instances when our authority, honesty and or male chauvinism is threatened to its core.
Chances are that people exhibit their insecurities via raising of voice, putting the blame on the other person, diminishing the other person via coaxing and manipulation, showing power of money, comparison to others, etc. etc.
A common form of insecurity is feeling of POSSESSIVENESS of the other person. This by any means is a major infliction on women, for this device of POSSESSIVENESS acts in many a subtle way, and the partner unknowingly bears through it leading to a slow pulverization of personality, unless acted upon in a timely manner.
This assessment can be painful to oneself, but it is sure to bring more happiness to the family as a whole, and if we say we love our family, we cannot afford to deny this happiness to our family. Though it sounds far fetched today, I can envision this family happiness catapulting to become/create a happier society for us all some day.
As we work on ourselves as need be, we have a whole lot of work to educate others, especially those who are not educated, whether in the cities or in the villages, on the tenets of equality of sexes. This is a huge task that will require mobilization of village elders, political support, change in the education system, etc.
Our whole way of thinking in this regard will ultimately have to change. The menace of dowry, the common practice of looking at a daughter-in-law as an outsider, daughters having less rights to education and inheritance than sons ... will all have to change.
The change will take a long time, but any gain in this direction will be a worthwhile effort, enough to make us proud of ourselves... as we envision the day when woman will not have to suffer because of the whims of man, any where, any time, any more.
So help us GOD.
-- Vijay Nikore