Critique's Zone, Women's Day

International Women’s Day: Responses from a Cross Section in the US and India – I

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. It can be traced back to New York City, in February 1908, when thousands of women, who were garment workers went on strike and marched through the city to protest against their working conditions.

As I set out to connect with my educated female and male connections to learn of their views awareness, understanding, on “IWD”, I was naive to expect cookie cut responses or sensational views.

What I got was an interesting mix of responses that I share with you below.  Age group of respondents spans from 20 to 75, 30% being male and 70% female.

Few respondents across hemisphere excused themselves, one of them claiming she did not know anything about it.

Self-aware educated, a well-read septuagenarian, spiritual, feminist grandmother, who has gone through loss of spouse; young son in a cruel accident and divorces of children; and through it all with equanimity. She has been a rock to her family. She wanted to see me pay homage to my mother by writing about her before she would respond to my questions.

A highly well-placed senior executive on Wall Street NY heard of IWD a couple of years back. As per him, “A woman’s priority in life is to have and raise children. Independence and liberation belong to anyone with a clear conscience. Equality is the way to celebrate it.”

A common theme for many is they heard of it during college or later years, when working at a job. However, most learnt it by osmosis being raised by strong role models either because they had matriarchal system or some had mothers, fathers, grandmothers, whether educated or otherwise, who taught self-dependence, who led by example when they treated both sexes equally.

An outspoken, talented, creative and assertive journalist in the country’s capital stated, “I do not believe there should be ‘a’ Women’s Day. Each moment and day belong to women! To be a woman is a mark of celebration in itself! I would like women to empower themselves and each other, say no to abuse – from subtle to gross. This may mean walking the road less traveled, which is far better than travelling with the herd mentality of crowds. Women are ‘Lionesses’ that walk alone, in a dense jungle, with her head held high.

A senior life coach in Bangalore opined that feminine is an aspect of both men and women that needs to take charge of our lives. It is nurturing, and life-ward. It needs to come out of the shadows of overbearing masculine energy that has pervaded for centuries. It’s about time for Women – to embrace feminine, balance their masculine; and for Men – to balance masculine, nurture the feminine.

As there are more opportunities for women in every sphere, it behooves every home and workplace to encourage, coach, sensitise all alike to get out of their own and others way with rigid outdated thinking.

To balance the additional responsibility of child bearing; then shared rearing and career, it would be more fruitful to weave in flexible work hours, virtual work choice, work from home options, have facilities at work to care for children, acknowledge women on par with men, and train men to help more at home. Above all, change mindsets of both men and women.

Society and the corporate culture must quit the stereotypical need to emasculate men or make the female feel less than unless she is masculine to be better than her counterpart. Female gender needs to celebrate, enjoy and accept all their feminine aspects along with being career women.

It would be good exercise to have men experience a full working day of a woman. Play the various roles of women and life experiences of women. Like on teacher’s day, children play the role of teachers.

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