Traditionally women have managed the hearth and the household and raised children. They have been a support to the men folk who were considered to be the providers for the family.
Women had to fight long battles just to be treated fairly and given equal opportunities in the personal and professional lives. International Women’s day can be traced back to the women’s suffrage movement in the late nineteenth century. Over the last two centuries women have progressed tremendously in all walks of life. They have achieved great success and have made their contribution note worthy in every sphere of work that they have taken up. Today they are in the defence forces and have even headed projects to the space apart from being the professionals in the conventional careers.
International woman’s day is marked on 8th March every year, celebrates the emancipation of women. It celebrates womanhood and pays tribute to all their achievements and brings them on one platform to share their views, deal with issues of concern and empower them.
Women are leaders everywhere you look, from the CEO who runs a Fortune 500 company to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household. Our country was built by strong women and we will continue to break down walls and defy stereotypes. ~ Nancy Pelosi
There are also regions, small pockets in the world where women are still suppressed and demeaned; they deal with violence both mental and physical. They have to fight gender bias regularly; this is not an issue just in the developing countries but also prevalent in the developed nations. Not that I wish to make this article depressing but not turning away from facts. At the same time trying to make a difference in whatever way it can, awareness creates solutions, isn’t it?
There are certain concerns that every woman faces, immaterial of which part of the world she lives in or the social strata that she belongs to. Here are some common issues that women face.
Violence Against Women
Violence can be of various kinds not necessarily physical. In fact the repercussions of the non-physical violence are much deeper. I am thankful for not being exposed to the kind of violence that we hear about but that’s not all… issues are there and there are women dealing with them, everyday!
I shall not highlight them here, we have already heard a lot, what I wish to focus on are issues that affect the lives of the women at their homes, work places and in their neighbourhoods.
Empowerment: When women ask for empowerment they are not asking for the sky but the idea of being fully able to authorize them to be just themselves.
Stereotyping Women certainly don’t want to be labelled as housewives, a more respectable word homemaker being fancied these days or the career oriented girl.
“Having a traditional wife who cooks, cleans and is submissive might be nice. However, choosing a capable, independent and career-oriented woman can also bring enormous benefits” These are the lines taken from a very successful author, this is stereotyping.
A woman should have the choice to stay at home or go out to work. Just because she has a career outside her home not necessarily means that she is capable, independent and brings enormous benefits. A housewife can also be all that, she can be more educated and capable than some career women but has chosen to stay at home.
Every woman has a war that she fights
Just to create the right balance at home and in her life; she needs to be good both at home and at work, the pressures can be extremely stressful for her. The roles that she plays demand a lot of her time and attention; she is a daughter, a daughter in law, a wife and a mother. She plays the roles with compassion, which comes naturally to her. Let’s not take her out completely from that, there are times we need to understand that role. That’s why a few companies have created flexi times or flexi jobs for them. We salute that option.
What’s the need to work?
It hurts me, just like a lot of other women when people ask us what’s our need to work. They think there’s no need for us to earn as husbands are doing well and when we have a family to take care and a home to manage. Why the struggle then? It’s not a struggle but a choice that we make, we have good education and we want to contribute something meaningful or give back to the society in our own ways. To add, it also makes us independent. There is certainly not a need for us to justify why we work.
I remember at the college studying Hospitality Management, we were a very few girls in the batch, the ratio was around 1:6 girls: boys. The boys would often tell us that we get things easier, during the campus placements we were told that we’d get jobs just by smiling. I could never ever take that. In fact the reason that we were at the college with them meant having fought our way to reach there. We worked equally hard, and slogged during our internship; we were the toppers in the batch and definitely did not get our jobs by just smiling. I complete 20 years of being a career woman this June. Smile made things easier and bearable for me but certainly I don’t get anything just by smiling!
We demand to be taken seriously
Why should women always scream just to be heard?
Each one of us must pledge that we’ll not tolerate violence against women in any form; we must condemn it, and pledge to raise our voices till justice is met. As women let’s not blame others for every injustice that we face but fight on our own and ensure that we’ll not be afraid, we’ll take charge and we’ll rise!
I strongly believe in gender equity that’s more important than equality. Let the women be comfortable in their own skins, not getting constantly exposed to body shaming, being stereotyped or being answerable to everyone around. Let them have a choice of what they want to do, want to be or want to have. That choice gives them equality. It’s certainly very basic yet so powerful.
The Navy Queen
In the Navy, a woman is referred to as a ‘Queen’ and she is treated nothing less than one. Godspeed to this idea and may it continue to rule the mariners lives. After all, it takes a strong woman to manage her home, life, relations and everything big or small on her own when the sailor is away for months. It’s a beautiful partnership that they maintain. It is this very partnership that helps the sailor give his best at work without worrying about his responsibilities back home. Women are entering into this very profession once considered out of bounds for them; they can’t be less ‘queens’ in any sense. It takes guts to be there and we salute those women and their choices.
Wishing all the women a Very Happy International Women’s day!
Celebrate your life, your uniqueness and your differences… Be proud of who you are!!
Laxmi Todiwan is a Professor and Corporate Trainer. A hospitality professional with a career spanning over two decades. Married to a Master Mariner and is a mother of two energetic boys. Learning and Development is close to her heart and associates herself with Skill training projects of the government. She writes for hospitality journals and also for columns in the local newspapers. She expresses her thoughts in a blog, The Optimist Diary.