A quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg meticulously summarizes a truth that builds the edifice of gender equality. An ardent advocate for women’s rights, she had said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
Yes, the possibilities are infinite, and women have the capability to make their mark in all fields.
Every year, the world is all geared up to observe International Women’s Day on March 8. It’s a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in social, economic, cultural, and political spheres. So what could be a better moment than this to share my thoughts and reflections ?
Every woman needs to be respected
There’s a story behind every woman. The simple village woman striving to feed her family and the unrecognized single mother who works hard to make ends meet are as invaluable as the newsmakers making it to the headlines. All women need to be treated equally without their achievements being measured against an index.
As they say, “Charity begins at home.” To break the pillars of gender inequality, the first step needs to be taken by women themselves. They have to treat each other with dignity and respect. A tolerant mindset needs to be nurtured to look beyond differences of any kind and to accept each other as belonging to a unified entity.
Leaning on one another helps to heal
When women come together, they garner strength to accomplish greater milestones. It is therefore imperative to give a listening ear to one another. Not just in our personal lives, but even in the professional sphere, women can be mentors and powerful allies for their co-workers.
Founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, LeanIn.Org is a global community that strives to help women achieve their ambitions and work to create an equal world. “Together Woman Can” is a campaign launched to celebrate the power of women supporting each other.
Sandberg strongly believes that women do support each other all the time, and it’s just a myth out there that they don’t.
In a brilliant interview with Lena Dunham, she cited her grandmother Rosalind Einhorn when asked who taught her that it was fine “to reach out to other women and ask for support, rather than hide behind false confidence and a sense of needing to be the perfect professional.” She shared how her grandma, who was poor and diagnosed with breast cancer in her thirties, had turned her focus to helping other women with the disease and raised money for breast cancer screenings.
Let’s think big and beyond
We need to look much beyond our inner circles and think outside the radius when we talk about gender equality and women empowerment. It is necessary that we acknowledge and appreciate the accomplishments of women from a global perspective.
I came across unfavorable and rather disparaging comments on social media in response to posts that honored Kamala Harris after she became Vice President of the USA. Sadly, some of these criticisms came from women themselves. It was pointed out that India much earlier has had a female Prime Minister and a President, and Harris reaching that position was no extraordinary feat to rave about. Such responses only hint at a parochial attitude.
My point here is that recognizing the achievements of one woman does not undermine what other women have achieved before her. Rather we are celebrating everybody, and this is what inclusivity means. Harris being the first woman to ascend to the vice presidency has created history in America, and we cannot choose to ignore it.
We all need to play our parts
#ChooseToChallenge is a beautiful theme chosen for International Women’s Day this year. Unless we question the unfairness that is rampant, we cannot dream to achieve the goal by just being a silent spectator.
Very often, we get frustrated with what is happening around us. Rarely does it cross our mind that we are very much a part of that society. To change the system, we first need to be responsible for our own thoughts and actions. Each of us has a moral and ethical responsibility to identify the right from the wrong.
We have to lend our voices to speak out against bias and unfairness. No individual can do this alone, but every action counts. Collectively, we can go a long way in dismantling barriers and building an inclusive world.
It’s not just about having events and rallies, giving trophies, and showering praise on women achievers. No pun intended, the “march” to facilitate progress and cast off the shackles of inequality needs to be an ongoing process and not just limited to a certain day of March when women are acknowledged.
(This article also appeared as a featured post in Women’s Web )