If we want real change to happen, we must look beyond the role of a housewife and contribute something bigger to the society.
“God helps those who help themselves”
I firmly believe in this quote and so I also firmly believe that as women, the solution to all our problems lies in our hands only. If we don’t fight our own case, no one else possibly can, even if we cry at our loudest best for gender equality or women empowerment. Sadly, not all women in this country are blessed with an understanding family, a top-notch education and most importantly, freedom to exercise their choices.
But few of us who have this privilege, an immense responsibility lies on our shoulders to act in the benefit of women in general. Even the minutest life choices that we make can have a tremendous impact on the lives of general women population in our country. I do not intend to preach about joining some NGO for the cause of women or to take out time from our busy schedules to advocate for women empowerment. I think these actions can only have a scattered impact. What I wish to do is to highlight the power that lies in each and every choice we make in our own lives.
The first and most important thing is to take our education seriously. We don’t necessarily have to outperform the boys with our scores in school but we do have to remember that our education will play a very crucial role in shaping up to our future and also future of our next generation. Also, we must find our unique talents and hone them. Remember not to choose them based on what our parents have decided for us or what the society thinks is right for us or what seems like an easy choice. We ought to have an ambition in life which matches our passion and true aspirations, an aim different from settling down happily after marriage and raising a family.
That is no longer an accomplishment to be proud of. The need of the hour is to stop being complacent about playing the role of a perfect mother or a perfect wife. If we want real change to happen, we must look beyond the role of a housewife and contribute something bigger to the society, thus, to our country and hence, to this world. Well, a lot of us may cringe at this moment thinking that housewives contribute no lesser, they work full time and ensure they raise good human beings for the generation to come. No doubt they do. But aren’t they limiting themselves?
All of us possess unique talents and gifts which the Almighty has bestowed upon us in the form of our capabilities. Some of us have a mesmerising voice, some of us have excellent culinary skills, some are good at coding and developing logic while some may be an excellent sportsperson and some others may be great teachers. Why not contribute our gifts to society. For housework, we can hire people who specialise at it and as far as raising kids is concerned, we may take a career break for as long as we feel but with a promise in our hearts to return back to our professions as soon as we can, being careful not to get caught up in the grind of daily household chores. Please note that we are live examples which our children are getting exposed to and will be emulating in their lives. Our daughters will take inspiration from us and our sons will learn the role of women in the family through the choices we make.
When we choose to have a profession, we need support from our partner in sharing the household burden. This brings me to my next point, which is – choosing a life partner. While it’s tempting to go for a higher earning life partner with whom we can spend our entire lives without having to worry about financial stability or without ever being bothered to venture out ourselves to feed the family or pay the rent. Trust me this is one of the biggest reasons why gender equality seems too daunting to accomplish. If we have taken our education or our skills seriously, we should not fear financial instability at all.
We should be confident enough about being able to earn a living for our family at any time in life, in any situation and all by ourselves. The only thing we should be looking at while choosing a partner is how supportive and encouraging he is to our ambitions and how willing he is to share the household responsibilities. Some of us may still not be fortunate to get the ideal life partner but still, we would be in a better situation as compared to when we trade our identity and freedom for a financially secure life thereby giving into the wishes and whims of a dominant life partner at every single stage in life. Choose a partner who is more likely to treat you as an equal with whom you do not lose your identity and your voice. A person who treats you like a partner in its truest essence.
The power of these two choices itself will change the situation of women in our society drastically. One- women will be respected in the society for their contributions apart from making their families proud, two- parents will not have to scout for a rich family to marry their daughters and hence girls will be more of an asset to their families instead of being a liability, three – women will have an understanding partner and so cases of domestic violence will certainly diminish. Dowry word will slowly fade from our societal dictionaries and female infanticide will be unthinkable in times to come. We will have a voice in every single decision related to our marital relationship. Four – if each one of us takes up a profession as per our talent and passions, we will surely do well in them and reach high in our careers. There will be an increase in the percentage of women in the workforce. Many of us will be occupying high ranks in the judiciary, in the parliament, the corporate and so on, thus making our presence felt and also participating in making policies and laws equitable for women in this country. The general women population will get a voice through our representation. We will be able to play decisive roles in thwarting social evils like rape, stalking, acid attacks against women.
Therefore, I urge fellow women to recognize the power that lies in every decision we make in our individual lives and how it has a ripple effect in the lives of women, lesser fortunate than us. Mothers play the most significant role in the lives of their children by virtue of being the closest person to them since even before their birth and we, by playing the role of a supportive mother and/or a mother-in-law, can definitely mould our girls to carve a better life for themselves and pave a better life for further generation of women.
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This strange love story reminds me of Princess Diana when she gave an interview about Prince Charles - "There were three of us in this marriage!”
This love was flawed and broken the way only we humans know how to break things with our ego, pride, insecurity and complexities!
Where do I even begin to tell the story of how deep a love can be, how it transcends time, place and people. Perhaps this is a story about how women are their own worst enemies. Either way it is a story that tells us how frail, fragile and fraught we are as humans and how much we hurt each other.
This love story began when I was two years old. Growing up in India in a culture that wove love stories like Laila Majnu, Heer Ranjha and the epic symbol of love, the Taj Mahal, into the very fabric of our existence, love was always an integral part of our lives.
One such love story was of a boy and a girl who were neighbours. The boy, an athlete, artist and a poet, found his muse in this shy, thoughtful and in her own way poetic girl, who seemed to worship the very ground he walked on. Her face could be found in all the paintings he created, and her name in every poem he wrote. The girl called him Sagar, which means ocean, symbolizing his all-encompassing love for her.
Everything thing was going well; their wedding date was being finalized, till the boy’s older brother who was a doctor in the same little town, got accepted into Stanford Medical School to do his MS.
Earlier my husband would say, 'Arey! What is there in making dal-roti? It's so simple.' After he had to cook everyday when I was ill, he has stopped saying that to me!
“Arey! What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?” A handful of dal (lentils) and two rotis! This is the story of every woman and no one seems to understand.
Some time ago, after a shopping spree, my husband and I entered the house, exhausted. I had just about kept all the bags aside, when my husband said, “I am very hungry, can you make something.”
I looked at my husband in amazement and thought, ‘He had just had food, how did he get hungry again so soon?’
My husband, as if he had read my face, said, “Arey! You know that my stomach is not filled with outside food. Just make dal roti. What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?”
‘Is this the way dal (lentils) and roti are made?’ The thought came to my mind. ‘After all, I also went along and now I am tired too.’ I was also getting angry at myself that after all, I had spoiled the habit of everyone in the house.
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I started Women’s Web 4 years ago with the firm conviction that a Change was imminent for women in India, and that I could be a part of that change. I believed that there could be a space for women where we could talk about the many different things that matter to us; that all parts of our life are valid – the simple, the complex, the fun, the serious, the joyful, the stressful.
I believed that women’s magazines didn’t need to be ‘time pass’ – that it was great to talk about beautiful things, but that we also needed to shine a light on the ugliness around us (and sometimes even within us) that prevents us from achieving our potential.
4 years on, I am seeking your help to continue this mission – and do it better. But first – I’d like to share some thoughts on what I see Women’s Web doing, in the larger scheme of things.
'Patriarchy' is not just a word; it's a feeling that haunts most modern women all around the world, even more, when they are living in a society that has each and every traditions and social customs based on patriarchal norms.
’Patriarchy’ is not just a word; it’s a feeling that haunts most modern women all around the world, even more, when they are living in a society that has each and every traditions and social customs based on patriarchal norms.
Growing up, I was surprised by the practices being followed in the name of religion and tradition.
Practices that forbid women to even sit at a common dining table during her menstrual cycle, where she is not allowed to cook food or enter the kitchen during menstruation, practices that talk about the girl child as a commodity that has to be sent to ‘her rightful house’ through rituals like ‘kanyadaan’ and ‘bidai’, that tell girls to be home by 8pm while the male members can loiter and enter home even at 2am, drunk.
We live in a society where a man can pee in a public place, while if a girl wears a short skirt she is considered to be characterless. Each and every restriction and tradition is pointed solely towards a women’s personal space and her choices.