Brace up and refuse to succumb…Woman Empowerment & Woman Safety – The topic seems complex, heavy and hardcore ‘women’s lib’ kinds. I am no cotton-sari-clad activist or any budding neta-in. Neither am I a pro in women specific stats nor a part of policy making system. I am a regular woman with a normal family and a usual 9-to-6 job. You may not find anything outstanding or happening about me. But I am empowered and I am safe!!
Now, that’s something I can be proud of. I am sure a number of people in India are working day and night to make and implement regulations and policies to ensure that women are treated equally and remain safe.
Good work. Well done! But in a country where pizza reaches faster than police (quoting a popular meme’ from Facebook), isn’t it sensible to teach the poor victim (bechari nari) how to fight for herself rather than waiting for government schemes to liberate her or dial 100 while she’s been already pinned down by a group of rapists. Not happening!
So, my simple and humble plan to deal with both these situations is – education. By ‘education’ here I do not mean teaching e=mc2 to every girl or make them by heart tables from 1 to 20. Basic awareness, presence of mind and courage is all what it takes to be empowered and to be safe – like me, like many others! I will tell you how.
Women empowerment does not mean only to be a CEO of a company. It means a woman is free enough to make choices in her life. It could be about deciding what course she wants to study and till what level, whom she wants to marry (or does she really want to marry at the first place?), what to wear, how much to cover and making other such small & big decisions in her life. Ours being a male dominant society, women often in many households are treated like a second grade citizen. So, the first change has to come from the grass root or family level itself.
Elders should inculcate values in their children where ‘females’ of the house should be kept at a high pedestal or at least equivalent to the males in the family. For example if dadi tells the grandson how good his mother is and how much she does for the family and house, the child is bound to grow up respecting not only his mother but develops reverence for the gender itself.
Educating the girl child is of utmost importance in this scenario. Not necessarily one gets educated to go out and work but to understand what is good and what is bad. It brings in knowledge and confidence follows suit. An educated girl may know more options of fighting her bribe hungry in-laws than an uneducated one. She need not has to know the exact IPC but definitely would be aware of the ‘anti-bribery act’ and that if she complains about her greedy in-laws they will be shut behind the bars in no time.
Women get most empowered when they stand on their own feet. Being financially independent is the best way to gain confidence. Most women continue to go through hell as they have no financial security or funds of their own. Money does make you strong! Taking tuitions, stitching, meal orders for small parties, sending out packed lunch boxes, a small parlour set up at home, freelance writing, home based data entry jobs, insurance agents…the list goes endless where women doesn’t have to be out for long hours and risk neglecting their homes and families (if the family thinks so!).
This one is more critical than the above and is the biggest challenge faced by the fairer sex today. Without going in the intricacies of ‘why women get raped’, let’s see ‘how women can be saved from getting raped’.
In reference to a recent incident happening in the country, I have a thing to say (though I know, I risqué myself of getting ‘misjudged’ on saying so…) ‘Intelligence’ is working for the top notch firm of the country
‘Common sense’ is not taking a cab alone at 11 pm
My point – Why not be safe than sorry?
I would like to scream and say ALOUD –‘Girls, your safety is on your own hands. Period.’
What you wear, how you wear or ‘how much’ you wear is absolutely secondary for a rapist. But taking precautionary measures like covering up a little bit while out in deserted areas during late hours or taking a friend along in scary scenarios will only help you in sticky situations.
Women must make friends with safety apps and gadgets which are now easily available in the market; most of them being just a ‘click away’ (thanks to online shopping!!). A ‘pepper spray’ in the bag should be as vital as that favourite lipstick or a cell phone.
Talking about hacks, even a normal deodorant can be used as effectively as a pepper spray when used directly into the eyes of the attacker. A safety pin or a pen will always come handy in at least distracting the assailant. Rest assured, it will hurt bad when poked forcefully in the eyes, face or other sensitive body parts.
‘Trust’ is a big thing. Don’t splurge on it just-like-that. Friends from virtual world (read online chat friends or social media pals) need to be scrutinised and given ample of time before fixing an in-person meeting. Hanging out and partying with friends-of-friends is cool but accepting a drink or eatable from an unknown person should be a strict no-no.
An old adage said, Behind every successful man, there is a woman. Wrong!! I say, BESIDE every successful man, there is a woman. We do not need a man in our lives because we are physically or financially weak. If we have potential to head a team, we can also play a clown in our daughter’s birthday party. If we are proficient in excel, we can also fix running taps. If we can don a crisp business suit at work, we are pretty comfortable in salwar kameez at home. If we can buy a solitaire for our self, we can also finance our house help for her daughter’s wedding.
Today, woman is not merely a ‘thing of beauty’ but can definitely be the ‘joy forever’ to the family if treated well and respected duly.
Hats off to the woman of substance, salute to her strength and endurance!!