March 8 every year is celebrated as International Women’s Day to celebrate the womanhood, her social, political and economic independence. To celebrate the long struggles of women’s movement set in various parts of the world throughout history. To propagate the feminist ideas of a modern, free-thinking, young, conscious and an independent woman. A modern woman of 21st century.
But the real meaning of a feminist has been lost today. Instead of exchange of ideas, what we see on Internet on this day is discounts, vouchers at departmental stores, free meals at restaurants and things of this sort. Women celebrities and actresses coming on tv and wishing International Women’s Day to all. Why interviews of those people aren’t shown who have actually worked for empowerment of women or who can be a role model for millions of women? How many people know Tessy Thomas, Arundhati Roy, Chirtra Ramakrishna, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Dipika Pallikal, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chanda Kocchar, Tania Sachdev or Gauri Shinde. These are just handful of people to talk about.
The feminist movement which began in 1850s in the west and took its discourse in shaping the minds of so many women in Europe and America is something everyone should be taught about. How the issue of women’s property rights, issue of divorce, voting rights, wearing comfortable clothes etc came to light. How after the Second World War, Equal Pay Campaign gained momentum. Demands for child-care and paid maternity leave began.
We may have achieved suffrage rights, and many social and economic rights till now. But how many women have actually been liberated? Female Infanticide is still a common phenomenon in our country. Nearly 3 million girls go missing every year. The ratio of girls per thousand boys in every state is less in every state of India except Kerala. Around 7,000 Dowry deaths were reported last year according to National Crime Record Bureau. Cases of rapes and crimes against women are still high in India.
Girls represent up to 68% of Malnutrition cases and gender plays a very important role in this. 88% of Indian women do not have access to sanitary napkins when they are menstruating. 40% of girls lack knowledge about menstruation. Arunachalam Muruganatham, a man who worked for making sanitary napkins available to so many women in India at cheaper rates is something we should all applaud him for.
Not many women are aspired to choose a different kind of profession. We need to encourage more and more number of women to go for unconventional professions like App Developing, Hacking, Sports Media, Managers and other such professions.
India may be the fastest developing country in the world with its economy boosting and GDP almost going in two digit numbers, but we should not forget the fact a country cannot progress if half of its population are still facing such problems. Women’ struggle is for the transformation of society. A society which gives an equal opportunity for growth to all its members. The feminist movement is not against ‘men’ but against this ideology. It is important for both men and women to understand what real feminism is and together strive for reducing this inequality. On 105th International Women’s Day, let’s try to understand the broader concept of feminism and give this movement new thoughts and ideas.