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APARAJITA

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 3/10/2015 |




On March 8th, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, to honor the achievements of women and calling for greater equality. This year, the event highlights the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights. The theme this year is ‘Make it happen’ that urges women to recognize their own potential and take the initiative to build a better and more equal world.

Taking the cue from the theme this year, the editorial committee of Songsoptok decided to dedicate the March issue of the blog to women. In any case, a large number of our contributors are women, but this time we wanted to focus on the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and aspirations of women, as expressed by themselves, of course, but also by men – as they perceive it. Our decision was greeted with enthusiasm by our readers & authors, and a lot of them came forward to contribute.

We are very proud to present this issue, we are proud of the incredible participation we got from both men & women. But I cannot help ask myself as to why this should be considered as a special initiative in the 21st century. Why should women have a special treatment? Shouldn’t they enjoy the same rights and same freedom as men? Should we continue to treat women differently? In a perfect world, the answer would be a resounding NO. But as we all know, sadly, the world we live in today is far from perfect. In spite of their astounding achievements in all spheres of life, women continue to be the ‘second sex’, fighting every day for their rights to education, to health, to equal opportunities both inside the family and outside, to their fundamental rights to decide what they want to be and how they want to live their lives. Large parts of the world still consider women as chattel, to be dealt with as per the norms defined by men, irrespective of the level of economic, social and cultural aspects.

As we all know, gender discrimination continues to plague the human society. Discrimination takes different forms, are expressed in different ways in different societies. India has unfortunately been in the limelight for quite some time now for rampant gender discrimination, and we wanted to know how this is perceived both by men & women. We designed a new questionnaire dealing with the issue of gender discrimination and asked both men & women to reply to it. 11 women and 2 men, living in different countries and from different generations replied to the questionnaire. We invite you to read them and get a real insight into what gender discrimination and how modern men and women are trying their best to ensure a more equal society for women.

Another new feature in this issue is an entire section dedicated to what is commonly referred to as Generation Y. We invited young girls and women to share their creative efforts with us. Their contributions are published in the ‘Last Page’ section of our blog. You can get a glimpse of their bright young creative minds and the way they think. A special thanks to our youngest author ever – Yamani Roy, all of 12 years old, and to all the other young women who sent us their creations. And a very special thanks to Subrato Mitra for the wonderful photographs you see in this issue.

I want to end this editorial with the raging controversy that is currently going on about the documentary ‘India’s daughter’ by the British Director Leslee Udwin, about the gruesome rape and murder of Jyoti Pandey back in 2012. Subhodev Das has written an excellent article – ‘Who is Afraid of the Truth’ – a brilliant review of the film and his own analysis. A part of the nation is up in arms crying ‘dishonor’ – a word cherished by the reactionary forces. They are outraged because one of the convicts, Mukhesh Singh, is interviewed at length and puts forward his point of view about women. Derogatory, yes, but then, would you expect anything else from a rapist? What I did not expect, however, are the blatant misogyny of the defense lawyers – one who declares that there is no place for women in Indian culture, and the other who affirms that he would kill any woman in his family who behaves improperly. Two representatives of the modern Indian society, representing the ‘rule of law’, the impartial justice system. I have a lot of respect for defense lawyers in all countries, because they, presumably and hopefully through a sense of justice, defend the worst criminals. I think these Indian lawyers defending the convicts are doing it precisely because they actually think like the rapists. And there are no comments about their shameful declarations from the antagonists. Not surprising, once again, but it does go to show the real mindset still prevalent in India.

In spite of everything, women still need to fight for their fundamental rights, not only in India but all over the world. In some countries they fight for their right to education, health and probably just survival. In others they fight violence, especially at home, from husbands or partners. They fight at the workplace for equal pay, equal recognition, and equal responsibilities. They carry out the constant and fine balancing act between home and work and the myriads of other responsibilities that they need to fulfill.

In this context, dedicating one day in the year to women is not too much – in fact, it is too little! There is no point in saying that each day of the year should be dedicated to them. That will not happen. But on this symbolic day, we salute all women irrespective of color, race, religion, education… May you all bloom, may you make this world a better place for all.

Happy Women’s Day


[APARAJITA SEN]


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