- When I was returning to my hotel in Raipur one night last week, I noticed that the security guard who opened the gate for the vehicle was a young woman. She was smartly dressed, behaved smartly and performed her job professionally. Curiosity led me to have a brief conversation with her. She finished her studies in a nearby town, and found this job some months ago. She is on night shift on rotation, and she finds her job interesting. I enquired about her safety; she knew how to deal with her fellow security staff. She did mention that her father would come with her food when she had a night shift.
- It was wonderful to watch Mary Kom, the great sports woman, take oath of office as Rajya Sabha (Upper House in Parliament) member last week. The same day came another news that Indian Olympic Association had invited Salman Khan, Abhinav Bhindra, Sachin Tendulkar and A R Rahman as ‘brand ambassadors’ for Indian contingent to Rio Olympics in August this year. All men, only men are ‘branding’ our sports in 2016, still?
- At the inauguration of a national conference in Jaipur last week, the stage was occupied by six men. A woman was acting as a compere, announcing the programme and introducing the dignitaries. Two young girl students, dressed in red saris, carried the candles for the male dignitaries to light the lamp. Sitting next to some other important guests in the front row, when I asked my neighbours “did you notice”?, their response was “What?”
- Parliament was informed last week that more than 20 women have been killed daily in dowry related incidents in the country over the past 3 years—nearly 25,000 women. While some members asked the government to be more vigilant in this regard, came another news from Rajasthan. The Home Minister of the Government of Rajasthan declared in a public event that the Act to prevent dowry killings is being ‘misused” by women to harass the families of their husbands.
- During travel to Ranchi this week, I met two young tribal women working efficiently in the hotel I was staying in. When enquired about their backgrounds and interests, they both spoke about their ‘dreams’ to get ahead in life, for themselves and their families. Both were supporting their younger brothers’ studies, and neither was interested in getting married anytime soon.
The above vignettes shine light on those aspects of everyday life that we need to focus upon when it comes to practicing feminism and women’s empowerment. It matters most how we conduct ourselves in everyday life; how men and boys think and act in everyday life; how girls and women move ahead in everyday life. Policies, public pronouncements, gender training matter somewhat.
Words and actions in everyday life matter most indeed!
Dr Rajesh Tandon Founder-Trustee Martha Farrell Foundation May 6, 2016