Source : Google photo
Synopsis : I know that women all over the world are fighting for their basic rights and gender equality and have made some progress but in many countries they still face many challenges that they must overcome to get their rightful place as worthy partners in any society. I see a trend that is making men more aware that women are assets and can no longer be treated as before so it is a positive change.
Yesterday March 8 was the International women’s day that is celebrated in many countries if not universally so I thought of writing a few lines on the status of women today.
Depending upon the country, religions and the types of societal norms practiced there, the status varies. In patriarchal societies like India and many others, women still face an uphill battle to gain equal rights and status while in strict Muslim countries where the hard core fundamentalists have the power, women are still behind men in their rights even to go to school, to have the right to choose their marriage partners and live on equal footing with the men.
Malala Yousafzai was shot by a radical terrorist who had been ordered to kill her because she was promoting some thing as basic as education for all girls. Still they blow up schools for children and the Taliban routinely flog girls for going to school.
Most women who live in democratic societies take it for granted their right to go to school, marry whom they choose when they come of age, drive, wear clothes they like and live where they want but these rights are not universal no matter what the UN says and no matter how many member countries pay only lip service to such proclamations like the International Women’s day because you will find that in many countries women are still fighting for their basic rights.
I wrote a blog called The other half that might be worth a look that is related to this topic. Malala is an inspiration to all girls anywhere.
The scientists say that men and women are fundamentally different from each other the way their brain functions, their sense of perception, the logic and sense of reasoning , understanding of spoken and written words, their reaction to real or perceived threats, their likes and dislikes, their resolve, their preference for certain colors, their choice of foods, clothes and their sense of smell. Did I leave out anything?
Apart from the way the women are physically different from men among other things mentioned above , it puts them in a category of their own although the LGBTQ people will challenge this notion and say that they too are like women and demand the same rights as women including their right to use the Women’s public toilets but that debate is still on going. So let us set aside the drag queens, the transvestites, the tom boys and the rest and focus on women who were born with all the attributes that make them women as the word means.
There is no denying that most women living in a free democratic society enjoy the rights denied them in other not so democratic countries. They can vote but this right was hard fought by them and it took them a long time to get it. Margaret Sangers name comes to mind who was a pioneer in women’s rights to have birth control but she was challenged by the fundamentalists in the United States who gave her a hard time.
Rosa Parks fought for her basic rights and won it for all black people. The Lovings won their right to marry who they liked that took the intervention of the Supreme Court in the US to decide in their favor so inter race marriages are now legal and are gaining ground but someone had to be the first to stand up for her rights and suffered social disapprobation dominated by men. Malala is still fighting for all girls for their right to go to school and she has not yet won that battle in her country where the fundamentalists threaten her and all other girls.
So in many countries they are still way behind their men when it comes to the basic rights enjoyed by the men and not women. It made big news when Saudi Arabia recently lifted the ban on women driving but driving alone is still banned. She must have a male relative with her as an escort but it is a small step in the right direction that may in time win them other rights.
But to drive a fancy car is beyond the reach of most women in most countries where they face other issues far more important than driving a car like gender equality, freedom of speech, freedom to get an education, equal pay for the same job , a job that can lift them out of poverty, freedom to divorce abusive husbands etc.
Recently the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the Muslim practice of Triple talaq is illegal and unconstitutional so the men who still practice it will face long jail time. This created quite a ruckus in the male dominated Muslim societies where the mollahs are agitating to repeal the law but the women are happy.
The Triple Talaq is the way a Muslim man can divorce his wife by simply saying Talaq Talaq Talaq meaning I divorce you and can throw the woman out penniless and into destitution. The poor woman can’t get any assistance from anyone so what does she do? She loses her husband, her children and her home this way. But now the practice is banned. The Prime Minister Mr. Modi who pushed hard for this law is blessed by all women so abused.
Source : Google photo of Peshmerga girls who fought the ISIS terrorists and won.
Women comprise of little more than half the humanity and have proven that they are capable of doing most of the jobs men do including the defense of the country. No one is a fiercer fighter than the Peshmerga girls who have successfully fought the ISIS jihadists in Iraq and Syria and killed them wholesale.
Source : Google photo of Indian woman fighter pilot in the Air Force
Women in India and Israel are fighter pilots and now take active role in the armies of these countries. I have written about how the Algerians girls fought for the freedom of their country when they joined the FLN to fight the French. The Vietnamese girls joined their brothers in their long fight as Vietcongs to gain freedom there so there are numerous examples of women joining the defense forces in their countries in record numbers.
There were many women in the French resistance fighters ranks during the last world war and proved their mettle. In China women have fought the Kuomintang army with whatever primitive weapons they could muster and died in large numbers but now they are an integral part of their modern army.
In America women are now joining the armed services and fighting along with men in the Middle Eastern countries so they have gained gender equality there in a positive way. They still face sexual harassment to some extent but that issue is being solved.
But women do not have to prove their worth this way because they are capable of doing many things men cannot do. I will therefore quote here the following :
“ Our generation is so busy trying to prove that women can do what men can do that women are losing their uniqueness. Women were not created to do everything a man can do. They were created to do everything a man cannot do.”
So what can women do that men cannot do? Many women have proven to be better and wiser leaders of their country. Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Corazon Aquino, Benazir Bhutto, Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher and many such women come to mind. There are numerous female CEOs of large companies who are doing very well.
But women prove to be more astute in dealing with state matters so two very important jobs in the current Indian government are held by women. The Indian defense minister is Nirmala Sitharaman and the Indian Foreign Minister is Sushma Swaraj who are both highly praised by the foreign governments.
Women are largely responsible as the glue that holds any family together that brings a measure of stability in any society. They are also known for making the maximum sacrifice to keep it that way. It is not often that a woman deliberately destroys her family although exceptions do happen and I personally know of women who have done it for their own reasons.
Women have more influence on the children than the men because a child learns many things from his or her mother including the language that forms the foundation of his or her personality. It is the mother who teaches her children all she knows, washes their clothes, prepares their food, cares for them when they are sick, soothes them when they are sad, encourages them when they need it to study harder, teaches them good values to be a better person, teaches them religion that helps them learn to be honest and truthful.
Man’s role becomes secondary and more as a provider but that role too has been taken over in many households by women who are now working mothers. No one can deny the importance of mother in any family.
I enjoy watching the National Geographic wild life adventure on TV where they often show how animals show how devoted they are in raising their off springs and how fierce they are in protecting them. You will see how a cheetah teaches her cubs to hunt or fend for themselves and how sea lions patiently push the reluctant cubs into water to teach them how to swim.
Women do no less so the analogy with wild animals is quite apt. A woman will give food to her off springs first and eat later if there is anything left. She will teach her children the skills she learned from her mother and grandmother in cooking, house keeping and money management.
Source : Google photo of a native American woman
Just look at the pride in the eyes of the native American woman. She is proud of her culture, her heritage and in her ability to rely on herself for everything she needs.
If you look at any American woman, you will know that she gets up very early in the morning to prepare breakfast for her kids, then brings them to school or day care center and then she goes to work. In the evening she returns home to prepare the evening meal, does laundry and numerous chores.
When women fail to teach good values to their children, the result can be catastrophic. They can become social deviants ,drop outs and drug or alcohol addicts and end up in trouble. It does not mean that the father has no role to play in the development of a child specially the male child because he does. I learned many things from my father about honesty and hard work ethics but I learned more from my mother including the language.
One can always make a generalization but not all mothers are ideal mothers because of their social circumstances . I was watching the story of Tonya Harding last night on TV and saw the reason for her downfall from the celebrity status she had achieved in ice skating competitions. Her mother was a divorced woman who worked as a waitress to support her daughter ‘s ambition to become the best ice skater in the Olympics but she resented her .
She was a sour woman who saw herself as a failure due to her poverty and failed marriage so she failed to teach her daughter good values and manners . Tonya cursed and fought like boys, dropped out of school, got married to a good for nothing fellow who beat her daily, divorced him but knew that her ex-husband was planning to hurt her competitor Kerrigan to put her out of action. Her denial of the knowledge did not convince the judge who banned her from competition for life and fined her thousands of dollars plus 500 hours of community service. It was the end of her skating career while Kerrigan went on to win the silver medal in the Olympics but people soon forgot about Tonya although she was a better skater but very vindictive and with poor social manners she learned from her mother.
But poverty as such is perhaps not the reason. Many poor women are wonderful people and sacrifice a great deal to raise their children properly. Swami Vivekananda used to say that the poor of India are the most religious, most generous and most honest people who try very hard to raise their kids and give them opportunities to study, get jobs and improve their lives.
Women are known to bear pressure of any kind better than men and show greater resolve than men in general to overcome their difficulties. I have mentioned the Micro financing scheme in Bangladesh where women received small loans without collateral to start their business so many women took the loan to buy sewing machines to make clothes or opened a small general store and earned a living. They could send their children to school and pay for many expenses so it was a great success story. More than 90% of women returned the loan and were able to borrow more to expand their business. Their honesty had something to do with their religion that teaches them good values.
I cannot praise women enough because I know my mother who was such an exemplary mother and a great woman and so is my wife. So take good care of this child, give her all the love and attention you possibly can. Give her all the opportunities to reach her full potential. One day she may be the leader of your country who will bring peace and prosperity to all.
Source : Google photo of the child
Those of you who still believe that you are better than women, just look at your mother.
Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:
La biografía de anil en español.