There’s been a huge debate, various talk shows, events and even great deals on days like Women’s Day and the celebration of womanhood. But what exactly does it mean to feel empowered for a woman? Why does the question even arise for a woman to think that she could be in a state of helplessness and then try to arise to state of empowerment?
While a small elite segment of society has tried to talk about it through various examples, women in the army, women in the navy, women in the air force and so on and so forth and made it look like an achievement. Well it is an achievement that women have decided to go for these career options but to highlight it and emphasise that it’s a woman getting this and that job makes it feel all unequal to me. This kind of media coverage in fact confuses me immensely. If this is empowerment, isn’t it true for everyone? Whether a man or a woman, to have the ability to make their own decisions? Isn’t empowerment about taking responsibility for those decisions and thereby not feel helpless. I know of enough men for instance who due to family pressure cannot make their own career choices, or take certain decisions which may make them happier and also, enough women who are truly happy not working at all and prefer to be stay at home moms.
Celebrating womanhood and feeling empowered therefore for me is not about this or about being able to run alone on Delhi roads at night. For instance, if you ask me, driving alone at night on Delhi roads, not only for a woman, but also for a man is equally risky. Since Delhi is not only the rape capital but also it has one of the most drunk driving cases as well, but who talks about that? And what happened about the men being raped. In fact they are so helpless in their condition that they don’t even have the courage to talk about it, approaching this matter legally is a far cry for them.
Are we confusing empowerment with dignity of life somewhere? Empowerment comes when the parents decide to nurture their children in such a way that he or she feels empowered. It will rarely happen through marketing gimmicks, events and talk shows. It’s something that happens at a fundamental level, which is not gender biased. We have made it so and of course lot of companies have made tonnes of money out of it.
For instance, do you think the sadhvi who stood up against the infamous Baba Raheem, went through all the women empowerment promos and talks and then decided it was high time she felt she could make a decision? She fought for what the brave-hearted fight for, her dignity and respect for her own life and many others. It was absolutely nothing to do with being a man or woman. It was a decision, and everyone has that inherently existing within them irrespective of gender and age. The daily wage earners in case you’ve closely observed, those women are the most empowered because their minds aren’t deluded by the belief that they aren’t empowered.
The biggest problem that we women face is a lack of respect and dignity. It’s not that we feel helpless, it’s the social stigma of men not being able to handle the decisions women make. We are all born equal, but the social norms insist on the inequality. Enough women are independent starting from the grass-root levels to becoming national leaders. More than enough make daily decisions about their own life in some form or another, but it’s very hard for most people to handle that and respect that. A well-known Bollywood movie had a tag line ‘No means no’. While many men that I know of feel they respect women, there are barely a few who can actually respect that ‘no’ or a ‘yes’.
As far as I’m concerned, my only perks are the adventure sports and once in a while a great shopping deal. In my many years of leading a life of womanhood, nothing in the real world has changed. The lack of respect of life itself has become a huge question, be it men, women or children. Who needs to be empowered to inculcate that I wonder.