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How it feels to be a woman...

 
Picture Courtesy - Google


I was under the impression that there's little about my life that should create any sense of alarm. I have a good job as a software engineer. I am fortunate enough to live in a decent gated community - the kind of place that shields you from the daily tantrums of India's traffic, water and noise pollution. Despite these considerable advantages, I still wonder how it feels to be a woman in India. Can I really describe myself as an empowered woman? And more importantly - am I free?
I have to admit that I don't even dare walk the few hundred feet to the main road near my place after 7 p.m. in spite of the spacious, well-paved roads; it isn't a pleasant walk at any time of the day. Too often, I don't feel like I can stand in the highway without being stared at. And almost instinctively when on public transport, invisible goose bumps springs up all over my body ready to sense the slightest, unwanted sign of harassment.
Even more disturbing, why does my mobile phone have to buzz with an almost eternal stream of text messages from my family checking when I'll be home every time I'm out after 8 p.m.? If it's like this for a 'fortunate' me, what must it be like for the millions of women who use public transport every day in this country?
 

   

...how it feels to be a woman in India



Yes, none of this is new to me now, nor is it new to any of India's women. Sadly, such experiences have become so much a part of a woman's day-to-day life that many of us have stopped questioning the injustice of how unsafe most of our cities are for women. But we have definitely learned to accept that we should dress sensibly if we are going out, that we shouldn't be stupid enough to want to stay out at night alone.
 
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The very idea of an International Women's Day first arose at the turn of the 20th century, which in the industrialized world was a period of expansion and turmoil, booming with population and radical ideologies. Since those early years, women bear responsibilities for meeting the basic needs of the family, and in spite of that, they are systematically denied the rights, education and freedom of action which they need to fulfill this responsibility. Did you know that one in every three women in India is illiterate? Even today after 65 years of Independence, the literacy rate of women is just at 65.5% as compared to men, who are at a healthy 82.1%. The vast majority of the world's poor are women. Of the millions of school aged children not in school, the majority are girls. And today, HIV/AIDS is rapidly becoming a woman's disease. In several southern African countries, more than three-quarters of all young people living with HIV are women.
Various studies across the globe show that when women are supported and empowered, of the whole society benefits. Families are healthier, more children go to school and the income increases. In short, our society becomes more resilient. Every person should be first aware of Human dignity, gender equality and empowerment of women. The idea of becoming a soldier or supporting women comes after that.
Let's educate ourselves and create awareness. So, are we up to it?
 
P.S.: I wrote this article on the occasion of Women's day - 2013.

—Roh

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