Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women. 8th March - is that day when the world joins together to celebrate women. Time and again women are seen gathering together all around for team lunch or dinner and popping a champagne, wearing the same colour dresses (preferably pink) or holding some games or contests or availing lavish discounts and gifts. While we come across campaigns highlighting '#BoldForAChange', '#NoConditionsApply', '#MeToo', '#AbusedGoddesses', etc. we share and promote inspirational '#WomenPower' videos, we hold events, discussions, parties all of which would be in news for a day or two or may be a week and then fade away somehow reminding us that all other 364 days are Men's Day!
Now the question is why is it just one day in the name of '#WomenPower'? Why can't women be treated special everyday? Can't the rest of the year too be as important as 8th March? Or why do we need such one special day to discuss feminism, women empowerment and respect for women? Is it just a one-day privilege to women allowed by the patriarchal society?
Women's Day in India seems to be overrated. Whereas, we are still socially backward when it comes to women's empowerment, women's education and their rights. The girl child is still outpaced and outranked by boys in all spheres of life in our country. They are still subjected to stereotypes and discrimination. There still exists an unfortunate wife who is mentally and physically abused by her husband, a degraded and an oppressed daughter-in-law who is ill-treated by her family. A recent 'Save Our Sisters : Abused Goddesses' campaign highlighted the domestic violence proudly practised in India. The campaign depicted photographs of models as Hindu goddesses bruised, battered and beaten. It also claimed that today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared, not even the ones we pray to.
What women are striving for is their basic rights and equal opportunity and treatment in all spheres of lives. Only one day cannot define a woman's achievements and her right to be respected. A woman sacrifices yet smiles during distress, gathers strength from the turmoils of life and grows stronger with prayers and hope. She is strong, patient, beautiful and compassionate, ready to take the world on her stride. A woman completes the man and brings life on earth, she is the essence of the society. Just like the game of chess where the queen always protects the king, a man is never complete without a woman in his life. But, women continue to face disadvantages in almost all spheres of life in the society, she's humiliated, abused, molested and raped for being what she is! Molestation may not be just physical. Her thoughts are molested, her self-esteem is molested when a woman has to answer questions like - "Marriage itself means sexual relationship, if you didn't have interest in sex, then why did you spoil my life marrying me?" "I'm your husband, do I need to beg you for sex? Or are you going to charge for it now?" "Perhaps you have had too much with your ex-boyfriend, now that you have lost interest in sex after marriage."
Women are called the fairer or weaker sex who are treated like queens on one day and be judged the entire year. Right from her clothes to her lifestyle choices, everything about a woman is questioned and comes under further scrutiny and debate. She has to go through unending criticisms everyday. "How embarassing you look in shorts! Come on, learn to accept your age and shape!" "If you are unable to take the pressure, then why don't you leave your job?" "You are just a mother of two kids and not a business head of some big company." "Wow! Another promotion? I hope your boss is not getting lucky!" And what about the slaps on her self-regard that she tolerates everyday from her husband? "May I get a cup of tea please? Or your feminism doesn't allow that? I know well what your feminism is. Had you been a feminist, you wouldn't have just seen my six-figured salary." "You are so dumb, I have married you, I tolerate you, you should be lucky enough." "Mom is however a good home-maker, but you are always an average, not just at office but at home too." "If you had been capable enough, you could have atleast earned half of what I do." "Look at yourself! You are a mother of just one kid but you look as if you're a mother of five. Don't blame me if I get into an affair." A slap need not be just on the face, every word that attacks the dignity of a woman is equivalent to a slap. But why does she need to be slapped? Is it because she is a woman?
Several times we have heard men either crib or boast about the 'absence' of Men's Day like Women's Day. In reality, International Men's Day is observed on November 19, but it is not as hyped as the special day for females. The men in our lives also deserve to be applauded for their contribution, achievements and rightly need to be respected. A father, a brother, a husband or a friend too should be celebrated. But the vast difference between the celebrations of Men's Day and Women's Day shows the notion engrained in our brains that women are considered as the secondary sex and mere 'objects of pleasure' who need to be felt special, brought out of their 'kitchens' and cages or the four walls of the house and celebrated only on one day. While the celebrations for Women's Day have become extravagant every year, one cannot glamourize one single day for equality and neglect the fight for equal opportunity for the rest of the year. Women's Day officially dates back to 1977 when the UN General Assembly challenged its members to declare a day for women's rights and world peace. But isn't it important to remind women of their power and importance everyday? Or shouldn't we celebrate International Men's Day too with equal fervour? It's high time we come out of our stereotypical and cocooned mindsets and give it a different outlook. In fact, let us not put our 'feminist' sashes on, to celebrate 'her' glory on Women's Day (to go back and start discriminating and harassing her the next day) but rather let's celebrate the glory of who we are, as a responsible citizen and individual, regardless of our gender.