Random thoughts as sleep evades me…
Women and Equality
The cry for equality of the genders is age-old. I have grown up on the battle cry of women’s organisations hollering to get their due attention. However, most of these cries touched peripheral areas, leaving the core unattended. They revolved around equality that stressed on physicality, appearances, reservations, and so on.
For me, equality means equality of respect.
Culturally, our norms and practices have eclipsed a woman’s need for self-respect. Her self-esteem has always been an adjunct to the self-esteem of her men folk – her father, brother or husband.
Equality of respect could mean many things – respecting the needs and aspirations of a girl child who desires to go to school, respecting the needs and aspirations of a young woman who wishes to pursue a career, or respecting the decision of a woman to postpone motherhood.
The right to be respected is the epitome of human dignity. When this dignity is snatched away from a woman or worse still, taken for granted, how can there ever be equality?
Government legislation cannot do much. The attitude for self-respect has to be ingrained in women themselves. A woman has to feel that she is worthy of her own respect. She has to cultivate an attitude for feeling that she is important, and that she is entitled to have her opinion heard, her aspirations fulfilled. She has to feel secure that her voice will be heard and respected by those around her.
We have to rewrite our mythology.
Lord Ram rebukes the commoner who points an accusing finger at Sita. Lord Ram announces in a crowded courtroom that he has complete faith in his wife, and so she will NOT go through the agnipariksha. Sita’s self-respect is celebrated throughout the Kingdom of God.
Then, we can truly say men and women are equal. Then, equality will reign supreme.