Yes I mean it. I haven’t wished anyone from this morning. I don’t see any meaning in celebrating Women’s day (not because I am a man). By now, you would have seen 100 ads from sanitary napkins to restaurants that give special offers for women. 100s of award ceremonies that will celebrate women power (every TV Channel has one this time including Tamil channels) or you might be even one of them receiving an award. Millions of blog posts that will teach why you should celebrate women’s day. Be honest, do these celebrations give any meaning to what women are fighting for?
I am not condemning the commercialization of this day. You have it or don’t have it, the companies will find ways to sell their products in a creative way. I am not condemning the celebrations that occur around this day. I am more worried about the pretense that these kind of celebrations possess. The celebrations have become the opposite of what the day originally stood for. I don’t think anyone would know American Socialist Party or the Vienna parade of 1911 that started all this. All these started as an effort to bring in gender equality but over the years the celebration has become a platform to venerate womanhood and the ideals were left out in lurch.
The biggest problem is either we put our women on a pedestal or treat them like doormats. When are we going to treat them as equals? or Are we ever going to treat them as equals? Like a fellow human being who have equal rights to live on this planet earth. I am seeing a lot of blog posts that venerate women in their life. I feel even those veneration is an act of gender bias that makes us to see a woman not as a woman but as a mother,sister or grand mother or wife. Does a woman is only as good as her role? When a man is always a man, why a woman is defined by her role in this society?
I don’t think women want to be celebrated or venerated. They would easily trade of this day for one individual right – the right to choose what they want to do. More than safety, more than job opportunities, more than any other reservations, they would want the right to choose what they want to do as an individual. Mind you, they don’t want you to give this right to them, they just want you not to stop them from exercising their right to choose.
Why do I say right to choose? Seems to be very simplistic way of looking at things? Doesn’t it. I don’t think so. Every problem stems around the fact that women could not exercise their right to choose. For instance, let us take education in India, Government statistics show that while about 25% of girls drop out of school between the ages of 6 and 10, that rate doubles to more than 50% for girls ages 10-13 (Time Magazine dated Apr 29,2010). The reasons are as simple as like they have to look after their siblings. 23% of the girls drop out of school after puberty because they don’t have access to proper sanitary napkin products (AC Nielsen-Plan India survey). Even if a girl wants to study, they can’t choose to do so. The media will not tell you any of this as they are not TRPable.
Education is just the tip of the iceberg. We know how many women quit their careers after marriage. How many of them had a choice before quitting? I am not saying that every woman should work, I say they should be allowed to choose what they want to do. How many women have the choice of marriage? (40% of the child marriages in the world happen in India – i.e., 4 Million – BBC Dated October 2011). How many women are able to support their parents after marriage? How many women are allowed to stay single? How many women are allowed to choose whether they need children? How many women are allowed to choose when to have sex? How many girl children are allowed to live? (There are 3 million girls lesser in 2011 than 2010). There are countries in this world where women can’t drive or vote. There are countries in this world where women can’t work. Do they have the right to choose? Even if they choose, how do we perceive them?
Celebrate womanhood. Give Awards. Conduct Rallies. Have girl lunches at office. Probably, discuss women’s rights over the lunch table. All these things will mean nothing as long as the women don’t have the right to choose what they want to do. It might be idealistic but that’s the only way to have gender equality in this world. Probably, every man who is reading this will be guilty of stopping some woman from choosing what they wanted to do in life. Just don’t stop them from choosing what they want to do. And whenever someone stops be the one who will raise the voice first. Probably, you will be respected more than you are respected for wishing them on Women’s day.
As a human being, I want a world that has gender equality where everyone in spite of what gender they are have the same equal rights and have the right to choose what they want to do. Let me be idealistic but I am far better than believing the false ideals of Women’s day that is being celebrated.