The theme of the International Day of Women this year is - “Choose To Challenge”. The premise is that a challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change. Therefore, challenge the situation, the circumstances – call out gender bias, inequality and injustice in any form. Neither tolerate it for yourself nor others. All women and girls must have the right to live in safety, dignity, peace, happiness - with equal rights and freedom of choice.
It has been celebrated for more than a hundred years now. An idea mooted by Clara Zetkin, a German teacher and socialist associated with the Labour movement and Women’s causes. First held on 28th February, 1911, it was permanently changed to 8th March in 1913. Each year, it is observed as a Global Day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In fact there is no field or area where women are not active, no limits to what a woman can accomplish. Even the sky is not the limit anymore, as women have reached there too!
Empowerment of women is imperative for the holistic development of any society. It strengthens the quality and enhances the quantity of the Human Resources available. Ensuring gender equality is essential for the inclusive, sustainable development of a country and people.
I AM ENOUGH! You should not have to abide by other’s ideas of how, what, or who you should be. As Anderson said - feminism isn’t about making women strong – women are and have always been strong. It is about changing the way the world perceives women. Therefore, call out inequality, injustice, cruelty and unfair practices wherever you see them. As Swami Vivekananda said “there is no hope for that family or country that does not respect women”.
In India, Devi, the Goddess embodies shakti– the ultimate power. The Heavens cannot sustain creation without Her. The concept of Ardhnarishver- Shiva and Shakti, together benignly ruling the cosmos is unique to our culture. Women were always seen in the image of the goddess. It is only in the last few centuries, after foreign invasions and influences that women began to be treated badly and disrespected as inferior. Horrific crimes against women have arisen only in the last few decades, due to the disintegration of our values and traditions, because of various factors. Of course, the goddess is still revered as the Mother Goddess, but people seem to have forgotten Her human form.
Our history is replete with countless examples of awesome spiritual, intelligent, strong, courageous and brave women, excelling in various fields. To name only a few connected to Hindu mythology and history and woven in our DNA: Devi Sita, and Devi Radha, whom we worship as the Goddess reincarnated. Sadhvi Gargi, Sadhvi Maitreyi, Rani Draupadi and Urmila. The saint-poetesses Mirabai and Andal. The exceptionally courageous warrior queens like: Rani Lakshmibai, Rani Padmini, Rani Ahilyabai, Rani Rudramma Devi, Rani Velu Nachiar, Rani Kittur Chennamma.
In contemporary India, our extraordinary, amazing and inspiring women have breached all boundries and constraints to attain what was considered impossible once. There is no field left, literally that our women have not entered and excelled in! Education, Politics, Science, Economics, Defence, Army, Air Force, Navy, Business, Banking, Technology, Medicine, Aviation, Sports, Space, Literature, Culture, Fine Arts, Police, Beauty, Architecture, Designing, Journalism, Cinema, Television and Social Work. There are many that are left out, for there are supposed to be about 200 “new age” jobs or professions these days! Our women are today flying planes, driving trains, buses, taxis, autos and even working as mechanics etc.
We very proudly name some of them here. The names of those left out here are obviously no less. Achievers numbers are ever-increasing.
In no particular order and cutting across timelines.
Lt. Gen. Madhuri Kanitkar. Nita Ambani. Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi. Seema Rao. Kalpana Chawla. Kiran Bedi. Arunima Sinha. Pratibha Patil. Indira Gandhi. Vijaylakshmi Pandit. Aruna Asaf Ali. Sarojini Naidu. Anandibai Joshi. Anna Chandy. Rukmanidevi Arundale. M S Subbulakshmi. Lata Mangeshwar. Begum Akhtar. Sitara Devi. Chand Bibi. Bachendri Pal. Mary Kom. Pranjal Patil. V S Ramadevi. Lakshmi Aggarwal. Sushma Swaraj. Mahadevi Varma. Mahashweta Devi. Shreya Ghoshal. Priya Jhingan. Geeta Menon. Naina lal Kidwai. Bharti Mukherji. Anasuya Sarabhai. Jhumpa Lahiri. Nirmala Sitharaman. Mira Nair. Amrita Shergill. Apoorva Purohit. Ismat Chugtai. Kamala devi Chattopadhyay. Sania Mirza. Priyanka Chopra. Sunita Reddy. Divya Gokulnath. Rana Ayyub. Ashwini iyer Tiwari. Ekta Kapoor. Ritu Kumar. Anita Dongre. Rekha Menon. Arundhati Katju. Chiki Sarkar. Shabana Azmi. Aishwariya Rai. Mallika Srinivasan. Zarin Daruwalla. Chetna Sinha. Nisaba Godrej. Zia Mody. Samira Hamied. Illa Bhatt. Arundhati Bhattacharya. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. Natasha Poonawala. Showbhana Bhartia. Schauna Chauhan. Padmaja Ruparel. Ritu Karidhal. Ankiti Bose. Kalli Purie.
However, it must be reiterated here that you don’t have to be a professional to contribute to society. The Housewife’s work is the most awesome – for she works tirelessly for the welfare of the family unit. The mother’s role is the most important factor in the molding of a child-and therefore a good human being and citizen. A woman is the mother, wife, lover, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, and TODAY a professional, employer, CEO, Leader of a country you name it.
A salute to the Feminine I – Nari-Shakti --the many roles and indispensable contribution of women on Planet Earth!
Let us also salute the compassionate, loving, kind, forgiving, healing and nurturing aspects of all women.
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