Surely, most of us women today are different from our grandmothers. The law of progress has made us so. Does that really mean women with a voice have Read More
Depiction of power of women on sand.
When badminton champ Saina Nehwal admitted in an interview that her grandmother refused to see her till a month after her birth because she was a girl child, or when actress-turned-author Suchitra Krishnamoorthi revealed how her father-in-law used to tell her daily that he was eagerly awaiting his grandson, it yet again demonstrated how the gender debate is far from being extinguished.
Only times have changed, not the mindset. Equality in its true sense is yet to become a reality. Whether it is possible or not is a different debate altogether but international women's day does tend to remind us that unless women start valuing and thinking about themselves, they will only be relegated.
As a prelude to celebrations of the day, here is a cross section of views of empowered women in our Temple Town.
The Chief Operating Officer, Apollo Speciality Hospitals, Madurai, Dr.Rohini Sridhar, cites a quote from a poem by Sonny Caroll: “We should celebrate blossoming of the empowered women who understands what it means to live and let live; how much to ask for herself and how much to give. Striking this balance is an expression of her confidence and self-assurance.”
Points out Ms. Lakshmi Murugesan, CMD, Paramount Textiles: “Women have forged ahead multi-tasking and juggling all responsibilities. They have progressed in all fields and done well too. You find more entrepreneurs and professionals today than housewives perhaps. But women should be able to use their feminity with dignity in a more appreciative manner.”
“On the road to empowerment, women are definitely playing multiple roles”, feels Ms.Valli Annamalai, Hony Joint Secretary, Indian Council for Child Welfare. “But in the changing society scenario, they are forgetting their fundamental role as wife and mother”. “Though coming out of gender discrimination, a woman needs to prioritise her duties. She may no longer be subservient due to economic independence but at the same time she can not set aside her sensitivity and feminity,” she echoes.
Says Ms.Premalatha Panneerselvam, Founder, Mahatma Schools: “Today's women are ready to face challenges. In villages, uneducated women are transforming themselves even without the support of men. They are also much more aware about the importance of education for a girl child.” But, she rues, despite the progress, women are still not respected, they face harassment at workplace. We need to create a safe world for us first. Women should not feel insecure inside or outside their homes.
Endorses Dr. A. Mercy Pushpalatha, Principal and Secretary, Lady Doak College: “Why only women, men too should be made equal partners and participants in celebrating womanhood. Men's perception about women has to change first. Women should be perceived as collaborators and not competitors. Instead of special programmes, let us reach out to each other every day.”
Dr.Uma Kannan, Secretary, Thiagarajar College, opines: “There is an imperative need to integrate education with real life. Just earning multiple degrees is not enough. We need to turn women job seekers into job creators. Wealth creation is a challenge our youngsters must be prepared for. Undoubtedly, women are now more visible in various fields. But real empowerment can not always come with the help of external forces. Women must be empowered from within first.”
Ms.Mridula Ramesh, Executive Director, Sundaram Textiles, feels, the best thing to have happened is the change in role models for women. “Few decades ago, housewives, mothers, grandmothers were role models. Today, women are so diverse having stepped into all kinds of careers. From all walks of life and every stage, women are getting opportunities and striving to become financially independent. But unfortunately, society hasn't moved fast. Portrayal in cinema is negative, only a woman has to sacrifice or compromise on her career while raising a child or family, there is no justification for dowry either when women too are earning today.”
Principal and Correspondent, Akshara School, Ms.Kausalya Srinivasan, says: “Women, individually and as a workforce, are set for much greater achievements now. They are better empowered today. And those empowered are providing a helping hand to the weaker and deprived. Even though women are not shown equal respect everywhere yet, in some places, their position does make men jittery. For sure, they can't ask us for bribes and in a way we can help and contribute to curbing corruption”.
Feels Ms.Aruna Visweswar, Principal, Adhyapana School: “Women still need to empower themselves more. Problems of inequality, dowry, female infanticide exist though may be in lesser degree. While women are taking a progressive step forward, there are more and new problems to confront. Marital discords are on the rise and it is a disturbing feature affecting children of the new generation. Education is crucial for every woman for self-dignity and infusing feminity with intuition.”
The Vice-chairman (Emeritus), Aravind Eye Care Systems, Dr.G.Natchiar, asserts: “Women are the best representatives of the value system of every family, society and the country irrespective of whether they are rich or poor, educated or uneducated. Health care and education are the two most important sectors that need continued focus because only these will enlighten women.”
Industrialist and educationist, Ms.Shobhana Ramachandhran, appreciates the great capabilities and inner energy of every woman. Increasing number of women have turned professionals and skillfully managed their homes and personal lives too, she feels, adding that it reflects a woman's power, ability and understanding. If anything, women need to be more self-confident to make a deeper impact and for that a women's day celebration makes no difference
No doubt, empowering women whether directly or indirectly is an ongoing process. As this year's theme declared by the United Nations emphasizes on equal access to education among other things, it is this equality in participation and opportunities that may help to ease the “uneasy relationship” between power and leadership. For a woman, deep within perhaps feel being strident strikes at her feminity. Whereas, the two ought to be mutually compatible to reignite and channelise women's equality for the future.
Keywords: International Women's Day