There’s so much going on about women empowerment as we get ready to see yet another International Women’s Day today, on the 8th of March.
But while everyone talks about ‘empowering’ us women, what does this actually mean to women who are going through various scenarios in their everyday lives, where they handle the real issues themselves?
Let’s hear it from the ladies themselves.
Swarashree, 31, New Delhi
For me, women’s empowerment is always about equality in every sphere, be it opportunities, the way women are treated, their role in decision making – everything equal actually. My sister and I have been very fortunate to be born to parents who are extremely broad minded and never differentiated based on gender. And I am married to a person who also completely believes in the same. I guess I am extremely lucky, but I do realize that every woman should have this equality, and should not consider it a privilege, but a right.
Anurima Roy, 39, New Delhi
For me, empowerment has many faces and it begins with the notion of just being free without being under the scanner all the time. Yes, the right to be single. Yes, the right to motherhood. Without being ‘required’ to be married to have a baby or having to give substantial stories, excuses, go through paperwork and all. Yes, equal pay. Yes, to be able to buy liquor from a theka (local liquor shop).
But most importantly I feel that the need to talk about women’s empowerment should be eradicated. I mean, why do we even need to empower women, because shouldn’t we already be empowered by being born a woman? Just like being born a man? I’m not sure why there is even a difference, when actually we should be talking about empowering the society to be able to live better – discuss global warming, wars, Syria, education, and so many other things!
We should be individuals. Sex – female; sex – male. No other difference. Really.
Sudipta Satpathy, 27, Mumbai
I do believe that women empowerment is important and everyone deserves to be treated equally. But I don’t like the feminist rant – I feel there is too much anger. Everything gets misconstrued and women get offended about things being sexist, which sometimes they just aren’t. Women need to be treated the way they are, as equals, and don’t need any special empowerment.
Neelanjana Gupta, New Delhi
Premarital sex and the right to remain single and not be judged are not really the pressing issues women face today. Many women are living with it, and can deal with it provided they learn to be okay with being judged and not care about it (come on, you can’t really expect our society to wake up one day and be okay with women doing all this, even though it is okay if a man does it. So the best thing is to not get affected by what others say or think and live your life the way you want!).
What really are problems are issues such as domestic abuse, or sexual power plays, or abuse of any form that the man inflicts on the woman. A woman’s honour should not be linked to how much she earns; she should be as respected even when she is not getting paid!
My main problem is that Women’s Day comes just one day in a year and it is easier to talk about these problems on this day, rather than fixing the ones that are actually causing so much problem for women.
I want to go out when I want to, at whatever time of the day or night, without the need to download an app to ‘protect’ me, where I have to make 5 men ‘responsible’ for me.
Urmimala Gupta, 35, Bangalore
Women can truly feel empowered when we stop giving them any special treatment, be it of a lesser person or an equal, and just treat her as a regular human being, the way society treats men. I think the way you think about a girl, her choices and independence is what is crucial here. A ‘forward’ girl is looked down upon. ‘Talk like a girl’ ‘Walk like a girl’ ‘Sit like a girl’ are normal expressions that girls hear all the time. The same ones are used in a derogatory way, when you say ‘Don’t talk like a girl,’ ‘don’t walk like a girl’ ‘don’t fight like a girl’ or ‘don’t cry like a girl.’ These are expressions that are used to show men that they should not behave like this as they will be looked down upon if they behave ‘like a girl.’
Women today are being empowered to be ‘second to none,’ but who said women are second? How do you know they are not already the first?
Everyone is judging, everyone has an opinion about what a girl should wear, how she should talk to others, how long she should work, what time she should return home, when she should get married – everything!
Why not exchange the word empowerment with equality? Simple.
Deepa Nischal, 39, Mumbai
Women are complete in themselves, with their inherent confidence and power, and are not dependent on anyone. Women Empowerment means having equal rights and the authority to take decisions on various personal, social, political, economic topics. It does not mean to discriminate against men, but it simply means treating everyone as equal.
The growing conscience is to accept women as individuals capable of making rational and educated decisions about themselves as well as the society. Women empowerment in its actuality is synonymous with complete development of the society. An educated woman, with knowledge about health, hygiene, cleanliness is capable of creating a better disease-free environment for her family. A self-employed woman is capable of contributing not only to her family’s finances, but also contributes towards increment of the country’s overall GDP. A shared source of income is much more likely to uplift the quality of life than a single income household and more often than not, helps the family come out of poverty trap. Women aware of their legal rights are less likely to be victims of domestic violence or other forms of exploitation.