To Make It A Friendlier Place For Women

Radha Prathi, March 14, 2015, DHNS

Indian mythology resonates with instances of respect and love for women. In the current situation, it is apt that we revisit those tales and draw on some much-needed inspiration for gender sensitivity

India is certainly a land of controversies. On one hand, we treat our women like goddesses and on the other hand, we think of them merely as instruments that salvage and replenish the male ego. We have reached a stage where we cringe at the idea of begetting daughters, simply because they are considered liabilities or they challenge our ability to give them a normal life in this big bad world.

Even most of the educated folks prefer to have a male heir to inherit their assets, family name and facilitate a passage to the next world. In such a scenario, women who get to live life spiritedly, with dignity and on their own terms seem to fall into the minority category.

The world has woken to this grim reality time and again and has slumbered right back into hibernation. India has started working proactively in this direction right from the beginning of this year. The Beti Bachao, Beti Padao Andolan could not have been timed better. The Prime Minister roped in popular actress Madhuri Dixit as the ambassador for promoting this awareness campaign. The actress, the quintessential Indian woman, is a commendable example of what a woman can achieve, despite stemming from the great Indian middle class.


Today, more than ever before, we in the Indian subcontinent should recall some fabulous instances from our epics and mythology. King Janaka of Mithila did not think twice about adopting the baby girl he happened to stumble upon while ploughing the field. He took her in and imparted to her all the skills a princess was entitled to. He ensured that she
wedded the most competent man by setting the tall task of stringing the bow of Lord Shiva. King Janaka was known for his implicit faith in the Sanatana dharma. Yet his kind and generous spirit made him embrace the little girl of unknown origin without any ado. He gave her lasting values that made her a role model, who is worshipped to date as Mata Sita.

King Kunti Bhoja was childless. When it was time for him to adopt a child to fill the lacuna in his life, he chose to adopt Pritha, his cousin’s daughter. He trained her in all forms of arts and skills. Kunti went on to become one of the wisest women, who laid the cornerstone to the kingdom of Hastinapura. If Kunti Bhoja had adopted a son, the world would not have had a glimpse of a resilient woman who braved all odds with utmost grace.

If these examples aren’t enough, read about the large-heartedness of Sage
Kanva. He took in a girl child, abandoned by Sage Vishwamitra and Menaka, and named her Shakuntala. He didn’t disown her even when he discovered that she was carrying King Dushyanta’s child. He arranged for their union and didn’t disappoint his daughter when she needed him the most.

Imitation is certainly the best form of flattery. So, if we profess even an iota of genuine admiration towards these ennobling personalities, we can create channels for emulating them and create an ideal world for all the women.

Last week at this time there was a sudden wave of rediscovery about the great achievements of women on several fronts. All the issues that have been
bothering female species were reviewed. The media had a field day, reporting about the latest crimes against women.

Statistics continued to unfold as to how every waking hour recorded female foeticide, female infanticide, molestation, sexual abuse, incest, rape, female genital mutilation, dowry harassment and death, among other such atrocities against women, across the globe. Promises, resolutions, both genuine and otherwise, were made; people vowed to make the planet a friendlier place for women. You see, it was women’s day.

While many women celebrated the day singled out for them, there are many more that don’t even know of the significance of the special day. If one takes a closer look at the difference between the ones who know and the ones who don’t, it will be easy to see that there is not much of a distinction. For life goes on in more or less the same way after the day has passed.

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