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Beating the odds

Tuesday, 07 March 2017 | Ankita Jain and Unnati Joshi

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Should there be an attempt to make a woman feel special on a particular day, when every other day is also hers? Ankita Jain and Unnati Joshi report

From being synonymous with the kitchen to stepping onto the moon, women have come a long way till now. The Women’s Day has been a symbol of celebrating such women who have surpassed discriminations and come out with flying colours.  Has the International Women’s Day lost its significance in its rampant commercialisation, or do working women — to whom the day was originally dedicated — benefit from its existence?

On International Women’s Day, we take a look at some of women who have defied the odds and become a symbol of grit and perseverance.

Realise your potential

Women are traditionally considered by the society as weaker sex. The situation is slightly better of late, however, actress Taapsee Pannu feels there’s a long way to go as far as gender equality is concerned. And the need of the hour is that women realise their potential.

“A couple of years back when the idea of empowerment was not so much in the news and trend, at that point we were going out and celebrating women’s day and now probably people think it’s a trend to say that we should not have a women’s day and everyday should be a women’s day. But from where I see things, there’s a long way to go as far as gender equality and women empowerment is considered. So if we can celebrate one day as women’s day, we should. I don't think there’s any harm in it. I think the biggest issue that we are facing right now is that we don't realise our own potential; we wait for people to help us, give us opportunity or to save us. We can’t depend upon the people. Let’s take this day to start something new rather than taking it down,” Taapsee  told us.

A long way to go

Actress Richa Chadda believes women’s day is not just a day to bring out the feminine grievances, but it’s also a day to deal with the society’s issues.

“Commercialisation may have given feminism its moment in the limelight, but a lot is still left to be done. This talk hasn't trickled down to the women that need it the most, and actually we all need to progress and evolve and grow irrespective of class. But nonetheless, I am happy it's the topic. It helps the cause.  Women’s day to me is an opportunity to discuss the issues that concern society, not just women. Because women’s rights are human rights,” said Richa.

Celebrating womanhood

Television actress, Rubina Dilaik thinks that slowly and steadily we are seeing the application of women empowerment in all the arenas of life. She believes that the evolution has already taken place and we are able to see it now.

“The message of women’s day has always been women's empowerment. The outlook must have changed but the message still remains the same. I think now the implication and the execution is what we are seeing now. Though it took a long time but slow and steadily we are seeing the application of women empowerment in all the arenas of life. I would say the evolution has taken place and we can see it. If we are particularly talking about the showbiz, we see it here too. We are getting our due appreciation and reorganisation as well. For me, women’s day is one particular day of celebrating womanhood,” said Rubina Dilaik

Every day is A struggle

“Commercialisation changes everything; having said if it brings to attention to an issue that we struggle with on a daily basis then perhaps its heart is in the right place. I’d like to give this the benefit of the doubt. If it makes even a handful of people, both men and women, rethink how they treat women and steers them in a direction which compels them to treat women with the respect and equality they deserve, then commercial or not - it’s a step in the right direction.  To me everyday is women’s day. Everyday is a struggle to carve out a rightful place in this world, with dignity and with grace. Everyday could be women's day if we were given the same choices men are afforded without having to fight for them every step of the way,” designer Payal Khandwala shared.

No country for women

However a woman might be equipped and an empowered individual but when society does not have the right attitude to let her be herself, how does she live as an empowered woman?

“Today the message still is women empowerment but the only thing which hasn’t changed over the years is the mindset of the society. In rural India, women are self sufficient but not respected for her work. There are thousands of people involved to make women of our country powerful through education, skills and financial initiatives. Empowerment doesn’t only mean entrepreneurs; it also means anything and everything which makes a woman stand on her own feet respectfully. For instance, the concept of dowry germinated because the society held her to be a burden. Women is not just a figure for child bearer, she has the ability to turn around the entire world with her abilities,” said Rakhi Sarkar, director of Kolkata based CIMA awards.

From struggle to celebration

“Although the ways of observing women’s day may change from region to region, I think the original message of any day that has a historical significance will always remain at the core of it. Any day of celebration can get commercialised in the present times but for me it still remains a day that reminds me of the times we marched on the roads of Mumbai and the many times we sat in silent protest at the Kala Ghoda Chowk. It is still a day I remember all my friends who are bound to me in sisterhood even though we may not be in touch or we may have gone our different ways. It is a day that still contains warm memories of working, laughing and sometimes crying together,” said CS Lakshmi, a creative writer in Tamil and a historian. Her stories have been translated in two volumes entitled A Purple Sea and In a Forest, A Deer.

The ‘second’ gender

And when every day some woman, somewhere, suffers due to male lust and violence in society, or remains a silent victim in her home or place of work, then what do we accord to this special day? Why does the market go all out, offering special discounts exclusively on spas, meals, drinks, beauty packages, lingerie, clothes, jewellery, handbags, cosmetics and perfumes? “Women’s day offers us an opportunity to celebrate womanhood, her ineffable strength and her indefatigable spirit. Though commercialisation of women’s day seems to cause a frenzy of sorts every year, it’s upto us, as individuals to celebrate it in the true spirit of what it represents. Even in todays day and age, gender pay gap exists across professions and women are still not represented in equal numbers in business, politics or in Aviation. There is an urgent need to reduce this disparity and we as women should encourage each other to reach our full potential. It is certainly about women’s empowerment and an occasion to “pay it forward” by making it a platform to share, inspire and motivate,” shared Nivedita Bhasin, the youngest woman jet captain to fly for an airline. She is also featured in vodafone wow women.