On March 08, the world celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD). Newspapers, TV and radio channels and even hoardings were shouting hoarsely about the importance of Women’s Day. Most of it was empty rhetoric — lip service, if you will.
I wonder what the true significance of the day is. When I ask someone why it is celebrated, I get answers such as “to celebrate the power of women”, “to emphasise the role of women in the modern world”, or even “to establish the superiority of women”. Lofty objectives, those! What I fail to understand is: how can one token day in the whole year help achieve them?
Here’s what I think:
Women, who comprise approximately 50% of us, are far too important to us than what one single day can highlight. By dedicating one day in the year to them, aren’t we doing gross injustice to their contribution to our society, our lives? Women are mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, bosses, subordinates, teachers, friends and so much more. In highly evolved cultures, women are worshipped. Womanhood ought to be celebrated every single day.
Nature has bestowed certain unique qualities to both genders. These qualities are complementary, not opposed. For instance, women bring a fine balance to our world with their compassion and love, which they can express more easily than men. If men are physically stronger, emotionally women are stronger — they are able to withstand pressures with more grace. Men and women complete each other and fulfil the universal law of polarity.
I feel observing Women’s Day the way it’s done these days is more like acknowledging that women are a weaker sex. It’s like “let’s give them one day in the year to rejoice womanhood, let’s give them a day to air their voices”. If this is not tokenism, then what is it?
Upon researching, I found that IWD was first observed exactly 100 years ago as a collective voice against the lopsided social mores of the times. The social repression of women continues in many parts of the world. But if the objective of Women’s Day is to make our society more sensitive to women’s issues, and to bring some balance, then we are missing the point. Judging by media’s slant, Women’s Day has become an occasion to bring out the differences between men and women. I found that so many stories in the newspapers were about how women are greater, better, or superior than their male counterparts. Many others were about how some women have made it great in the world dominated by men.
I read one story that revolved around a social issue. It was Shabana Azmi’s guest piece in The Times of India, which focussed on the declining sex ratio across India. She opines that, among other initiatives, offering incentives to couples that have girl children would be a good way to set the gender ratio right. Seems like a noble idea but I don’t feel comfortable with it. I don’t like the idea that couples will now have girl children because of some external monetary incentives. I would like to think that the only reason anyone would want daughters is because daughters are blissful! They are a gift of love from God, from nature. They are little bundles of joy. They are warm sunlight. They are fairies and angels. These are the real incentives for having daughters.
Coming back to Women’s Day, I think the original significance of the day is lost. IWD is now simply a commercial opportunity that individuals and companies exploit to create an impression, to establish a “connect” with half of their target audience — the better half! (Incidentally, the advertisers and sponsors of most women-oriented features were cosmetics and jewellery companies.)
Let’s stop trivialising women by observing a day in their honour. I am not suggesting that we turn a blind eye towards women’s issues. In fact, they deserve more attention than what we can offer in one token day. Much more…