Mothers! Ring The Bell!

Oh woman, fair maiden of mine
I’ll keep you safe till the end of time
If respect is what you so pine
I’ll ensure that is given to thine!

Twenty years ago, an 18 years old Sushmita Sen walked confidently on world’s stage vying for the coveted title of the most beautiful women in the universe. It was there that she was asked about the essence of a woman. A confident and radiant Sen gave the answer that not only won her the crown but also instilled those lines in the minds of hundreds of young girls back in India, all watching her with awe and envy. I too was one of those girls. I didn’t even know what Miss Universe meant at that time except that some grown up girls would gather together, wear shiny clothes, put on lipstick like mommy and enjoy one of world’s biggest extravaganzas ever. I never realized but her answer stuck on to me even at that age where I had absolutely no idea about what being a woman was all about or what hardships women around the world endured.

"Just being a woman is God's gift. The origin of a child is a mother, a woman. She shows a man what sharing, caring, and loving is all about. That is the essence of a woman!” she said and I still remember every word of it!

But today when I am all grown up, a very grim question perturbs my mind. Do we really believe in the essence of women? Or let me rephrase, do we really believe in this version of the essence of women? Are we only born to share, care and love everyone expecting nothing in return? And in this great and diverse nation of ours, do we really look at women as a gift from the Almighty above?

An unpaid servant, a burden or a toy for a man’s pleasure; don’t these in reality form the crux of what women are really thought of by an overwhelming majority of individuals, including women, in this land!
The statistics of the brutalities against the female gender is depressing in our nation.  But what good would our cries do if we don’t get up and resolve to bring about the change in our own little ways! If each woman in this country does her bit, then in a matter of years, we could have a society where India shining would encompass the progress of its women folk as well.

But what can I do as an ordinary individual for the safety and security of women? Time and again I have pondered on this question and every time the answer boils down to teaching our children the right from the wrong. Yes, teaching them that men and women are equal could actually be a great start and the start needs to be made soon!

Whether we accept it or not there is a remarkable difference in the way we have been bringing up a girl child from that of a boy child. That needs to change immediately for any improvements to happen!

Why do we perceive a man and a woman differently when it comes to capabilities and priorities in life? Look at how different the questions that are asked to a married couple actually are. While the husband is always asked about his career and what his future plans are with respect to that, the wife is always asked what dishes she cooked, or how many children she bore. Why the glaring difference in the take on a husband and wife, even if both of them are equally educated and employed? Everything is about perception and that is what needs to be improved.

This malignant though process is so deeply embedded in our society that the only way to thwart its spread is by slowly and steadily changing the mindset of the future generations. And that is only possible if we teach children the importance and nuances of gender equality from something as trivial as doing their own household chores! We need to have a generation that knows that a boy is not more precious than a girl! We need to rear a generation that knows that society prospers when the women in it are safe too and that can only happen with the mantra of gender equality!

Unless we instill firmly in the minds of men and women alike, that neither is superior to the other, the brutalities against women would never reduce. The essence of equality is lost when a boy grows up believing that he is all too precious to do any household chores. The essence of a woman is defeated when a girl grows up believing that her life is only to marry, bear children, wash their clothes and cook for them. The essence of a safe society for women is lost when she is taught to put herself after her family while the man sprints along his life. And who better to bring the change then mothers and all the mothers-to-be!

Oh the mothers of this nation great,
Rear a girl just as you would rear a boy,
Rear a boy just as you would rear a girl,
And then see the magic of how,
Our country becomes a better place for girls to be!