Today is international women’s day. Though we do not need a day to celebrate the undying spirit of women but since a day has been declared so I wish you all a very happy Women’s Day. May the day strengthen your belief in yourself and may it helps you in dreaming, exploring and discovering.
With the first episode of Satyamev Jayate that threw some more light on the heinous crime called rape, with the crime itself prevalent all around, with the ever deteriorating state of women in the world and particularly in India, it seems natural to believe that we, the women, are not going anywhere. We are still where we were decades ago.
But this is not true. While we still have a long way to go, we have come very far. It has been a long, tenacious path that we traversed since 1910 when the first conference held in Copenhagen where women demanded suffrage – the right to vote!
I’d like to draw your attention towards something important here. We may believe that India ranks much lower in women’s safety and it is true but India was one of the first countries to grant the right to vote right after its birth.
India attained its own constitution in 1950 and in the same year Indian constitution granted the right to vote to men and women alike.
Indian policies on child care and maternity leave are some of the finest policies in the world. We may not see them implemented because these are not forced upon the private companies but in government (especially central government) jobs, a woman avails not only fully paid maternity leave but also 2 year child care leave and that too with full payment. Since as per law these are not enforced on private employers and thus we see women complaining about work and home balance but on slight scrutiny, we may find that Indian government jobs are the best jobs for women for they provide not just the job security and decent pay but also such leave benefits.
The extortion and exploitation that we see in society is not at the hands of the government but by the society itself which consists of people like us – you and me. We are the ones who make stereotypes. We create images of people and expect them to behave that way.
It is us who watch those soaps and make them popular and then expect our bahus to take care of our homes well while working. We judge women on their looks, bodies and status.
Living in such a biased society that just needs a silly reason to discriminate against people, it surely does take more than grit and hard work to come up and make a way for yourself. But like I said, a woman is known for her undying spirit. So here are my role models who have taught me how anyone, man or woman, can achieve what he or she aims for, despite hurdles, pushes and criticism.
|Mary Kom (source: mid-day.com)|
1. MaryKom and Saina Nehwal – Who would have thought that from states like Manipur which has military invasion and Haryana where Khap Panchayats rule, we would get two of our star performers. Not just these women surpassed the social obstructions, they made a career in sports which were thought to be men’s sports. A mother of two (she gave birth to her third son in 2013), Mary faced all the challenges one can imagine. Hailing from a middle class family, she not only worked outside with her mom as a child but also took care of her younger sisters at home. She developed interest in sports and decided to pursue it which was not an easy task. Her dad once scolded her when he saw her photo winning a trophy in a newspaper but this did not stop Mary. In 2008, after a maternity leave break of 2 years, she returned to boxing and won a Gold medal. Similarly, Saina had to balance her passion for badminton and her studies. In an age when kids cozily sleep till 8 under a blanket, Saina used to be at the stadium at 5 am each morning.
2. Bachendri Pal – Born in a village in Uttarkashi, Bachendri Pal became the first woman to climb Mt. Everest in 1984. Her background can be understood from the fact that she was the first girl to graduate from her village. She created history and gave the rest of the women clan a role model. When asked how she felt when she first saw Mt. Everest after flying down to Kathmandu, Nepal, Bachendri replied, ‘I am from hills and we worship mountains. Hence when I saw Mt. Everest, I felt devotional. It all felt divine.’ Undoubtedly, it was this devotion that took her to heights.
3. Sunidhi Chauhan – Indian music industry was dominated by established playback singers when Sunidhi made an entry. Her shrill voice was touted as ‘monotonous and high pitch’ but that didn’t deter this non-filmy background and middle class woman to make a mark. She rose to fame by participating in and wining a talent hunt show called ‘Meri Aawaz Suno’ and from there her journey started. Her entry in Bollywood as a play back singer marked the beginning of so many fresh voices in the industry.
|Bharti Singh (source: mid-day.com)|
4. Bharti Singh – The famous stand up comedian who was popularly known as Lalli has an emotional tale to tell. She hails from a middle class family and was a national level pistol shooting and archery champion but she had to give it up as her family couldn’t afford it. Despite her obese body, she made a mark for herself and now she has become India’s first woman stand up comedian and she is indeed good at it.
|Indra Nooyi (source – theguardian.com)|
5. Indra Nooyi – She is the living example of how a woman can excel anywhere, even in the most competitive corporate FMCG sector. Indra holds degrees from not one but two elite colleges and represents today’s modern women who know how to run business, successfully. Not just one of the longest running CEOs of Pepsi Co, she is also one the most successful CEOs of the company and the likes. During her tenure as the CFO, company’s revenues increased by whopping 72%!! What more proof do we need to believe that women are truly gifted.
Not just the women above, there are countless other women who have proved their mettle and have come up as role models. These are women who inspire us, who tell us that we can achieve our true potential if we believe in ourselves.
I’d love to hear from you. Is there a woman in your life who inspires you? Share her story with me.