Women have always enjoyed a love- hate
relationship with the world they live in; oh yes - the world loves
As a protaganist
, a woman has always invited attention. Several western classics have portrayed them as pale, melancholic creatures who were the focus of heart-wrenching romance. Eastern mythologies have eulogized them as the 'better halves'
, and therefore, equal to men.
Poets all over the world have waxed eloquent
on the ethereal beauty of women, likening them to frail flowers. Frail, they were to remain, for it seemed that men those days did not expect their women to don the 'thinking hat'. They preferred them to be seen and never heard.
The wealthy among women spent the best days of their lives socializing and being merry, besides producing heirs
to non-existent thrones. As for ordinary women, they were mere slaves to their circumstances.
The ancient women
of India enjoyed an enviable status and were, in most ways, equal to men. But during the medieval times
, their status slithered down to a nadir. Education took a back seat; social customs began to take shape that plunged women into the depths of destruction. Thus began their long days of drudgery and commodification.
Women, the world over, are living testimonies of harassment and subjects of male chauvinism. Most of them had no say in any matters. For centuries, they were conditioned to think
that they are incapable of decision-making, be it for themselves or for the collective good. The numbers of children they must have, the type of food that they must eat, the choice of clothes, the kind of life that their children must lead are all decided for them
, by the males in their lives.
It took several centuries before women began to emerge from the shackles of their enslavement. Although slow, the uprising was a steady one. Education
and financial independence
are now the hallmark of urban women. Some of them have captured new bastions that most males fear to trod.
The woman of today is excellent at making decisions. She has a clear understanding of what best suits her, and goes about her way to achieve her goals.
As a remarkable career prospect, the modern woman has made a mark by scaling heights, despite being discriminated against by 'yellow-eyed' male colleagues.
But can we honestly claim that women are on the top? Let us not fool ourselves even for a minute to think that the empowerment of women has come of age. President Pratibha Patil, Indira Nooyi, Sunitha Williams and Kiran Mazumdar may be signposts
along the path of female progress, but they certainly are not the end results. In several parts of the world, women suffer in silence as they continue to be deprived of their basic rights.
In many Asian countries, education for the girl child
still remains a distant dream! She is often the butt of abuse and discrimination. If she survives termination, she may still be a 'sitting duck'
for family revenge and may fall prey to honor killings and rapes. In some countries, like Afghanistan, women are tormented for venturing out to work while in other regions, such as Africa, they continue to be victims of genital mutilation.
When males sprint down to the nearest bar to drown their sorrows, women draw strength from those powerful pearls - tears
! Every woman must believe that she is endowed with enough strength to fight her battles. Feminism
is not about baiting the male; female empowerment is not about fighting male ego; it is more about coaxing women to believe in themselves and in their strength. If this is achieved, it is more than half the battle won!
Dr. REEJA THARU/L