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She is born a woman. Will she ever be able to be true to herself without being apologetic or being made to feel guilty about wanting to be herself?
She is born a woman.
When will her birth be celebrated without any reservations?
Will she ever be welcome with open arms, without that ‘only if’… Will she ever get opportunities the same as her brothers?
Life? Food? Health care? To laugh out loud? To dress in whichever way she wants without being judged for it, without being ever told that she was ‘asking for it’?
To just be?
Will she ever be able to universally claim her right to an education? Will it ever become OK for her to aspire to anything she wants to be? Writer, astronaut, painter, pilot, theatre artist, fitness instructor, homemaker, surgeon, entrepreneur, gardener, engineer, rock-band singer, anyone…
Will she ever be able to decide for herself? Without the expectations of society that often tells her she had better plan her career around the inevitability of marriage, home, and children? The expectation that, THAT is what her body is built for – no matter what her mind and heart wants, and that if she would rather have any peace and happiness in life, she first needs make her peace with these expectations, even learn to enjoy her place among them?
Will she ever be able to live to her full potential without having to dumb down to conform to others’ expectations of her? Will she ever be able to be true to herself without being apologetic or being made to feel guilty about wanting to be herself?
Will she ever be free to walk out on the streets without strategizing? Should I go? Need I go? Am I dressed right? Will I be considered respectable enough? Is the time OK to go out? Is it safe for me to be out? Which way will be safe? How fast do I need to go to reach a safe place?
Will the world ever realize that a no means a NO? When will she be taken seriously?
Will she ever be able to express her thoughts and feelings without worrying about being ridiculed for it or about who might get angry over it?
Will she ever be able to see herself as a human being first, without the epithets of mother, daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, granddaughter, nurturer, care-taker, house-keeper, cook, whore, and entertainer? Will the world ever be able to?
Will she be able to perceive herself through filters other than those of fair, dark, fat, thin, short, tall, beautiful, ugly, black, white, yellow, brown? Will the world ever be able to?
Will she ever be considered a human being, with human wants, wishes, feelings, failings, without the halo or stain? Will she ever be considered more than a means to an end- getting a male heir? More than a womb whose job it is to cater to the propagation of the (ironically) human race?
Will she ever be able to reclaim her right to her body, her thoughts, her feelings, her wishes, her life? Will she ever be able to live a happy and fulfilling life on her own terms without everyone and their cousin attempting to control her choices?
Will she ever be considered as much more than a means to an end, the spoils of any war, the valuable thing to be protected at any cost, the parrot in whom the honour of man resides? Will her life be ever considered more important than any ideology?
She is born a woman. When will she be free of the world’s shackles, her own person, to just be?
Today’s Changemaker that we’d like to highlight is the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) that enables women to take charge of their livelihood and lead a life of dignity. SEWA is an organisation that believes that with the right skills and knowledge of rights, women can build a fulfilling, independent life for themselves. Their focus is therefore on enabling women with these skills and helping them them get their products to market. SEWA also lays great emphasis on women in the unorganised sector (which is where many women work) becoming a source of strength and support to each other, and working/organising collectively as a union. The brainchild of the inspiring Ela Bhatt, SEWA as a sisterhood is invaluable for many women who run small businesses and benefit from the learning and support of the collective. SEWA also markets some of the products made by women artisans in its collective, and you can find them here. Pic credit: haree (Used under a Creative Commons license)
Image source: close-up of woman’s face by Shutterstock.
In her role as the Senior Editor & Community Manager at Women's Web, Sandhya
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