Here is an article I wrote for Hindustan Times a couple of years ago. For my readers in India, let me know if things have changed for the better on the streets, in the houses, at work …
In 1909 some women textile workers in New York went on strike. After thirteen weeks of relentless opposition they won for themselves shorter working hours, better pay and a right to unionize. This uprising in those bleak times was recognized by marking March 8 as International Women’s Day.
One day out of 365 to appreciate women and all they do.
It wasn’t till Ponds’ publicized the celebrations on the telly did I come to know of the festivities across the globe. I felt happy. Here I was, a sixteen year old studying in an all girls’ institution exchanging spirited Archie’s cards on a solemn occasion. The significance of the day for me? We got free candies!
Apart from that one treat, everything else remained the same. I carried the same 4-kilo bag to school. I attended the same boring chemistry and physics lectures. I came back home to have the same daal-roti. And ended the day doing the same math homework.
Was it any different for my mom? Not with her nine-to-five office routine and household chores. She even wondered aloud while watching TV one day, “What’s all the fuss about?”
And really, what is it about this one day that is so special for you and me? Is it that the male species puts a pause on violating women on this particular day? Is it that women are spared obnoxious looks or comments while crossing streets? Do men stop touching us without our consent in crowded buses and trains? Are we given the dignity we have a right to at our workplace or our homes? Are we taken seriously, even if for a day?
And what happens the morning after? You browse through your newspaper and find coverage on demonstrations for women’s rights, inaugurations of women’s exhibitions, celebration of the spirit of being a woman! And right beside these extensively glorified news items there’s a small nondescript column – 16-year-old gang raped in Satoha district.
Seven years hence television channels continue to celebrate the ongoing struggle of women in every corner of the world. I feel sad.
Who needs a reason?
I, for one, do not need a day to make me feel special. I know I am.
I do not want to be treated like a queen for a mere 24 hours. I rule my world every day and I do it with pride.
I do not demand respect at work or at home as an excuse on 8th March. I deserve it each day.
I do not want equality for I am not competing. I know I am superior. And this I say on the basis of my stronger genetic make up.
I do not want any honors bestowed upon me to mark an occasion. I am a woman – and that’s honor enough.
Maybe we could just do away with International Women’s Day and institute an International Men’s Day. Father’s Day sure has its contenders but what about a day that recognizes men, regardless of their paternal status? I wonder why we don’t have one date set aside to celebrate the spirit of “manhood”? Or is it that men can be celebrated only when they become fathers?