Women DO cry on occasion. Women do fall in love on occasion. Men fall in love with women on occasion. Well, what are we to do? Become robots? Let's get real. 

Being a woman is a gift from God; it should be appreciated that a woman can perform so many responsibilities. All married women (or in a relationship) might say “There is a woman behind the success of every man.” All unmarried women might quip “Being single is tough.” Yes we can bear so many responsibilities at home and in the workplace and yet we enjoy all the good things in life - music, travel and the joy of having many friends. In today's world the woman supports the family economically as well as bears the burden of rearing children.  Thus, she deserves greater respect, and this is not just about making daughters bold but also about making sons equally sensitive.

Our civil society is torn between traditional beliefs, such as male dominance, and modern ideas, which among other things empower women. India’s dichotomy is because of the traditional mindsets where equality of gender is a big question. Some Hindu texts suggest women as cheap or no-valued commodity. Others proclaim women as God. These dichotomies promote a false notion of a woman and deny women the freedom of expression, such as preferring jeans over sarees. Movies depict girls in skimpy dress as being bad and those in sarees as good.

Indian society has a long history of systematic violence on weaker sections. It’s okay to beat a woman. Woman does not have right to say no to his father / husband. The tradition passes on to next generation. It’s alright for a son to have a girlfriend but it’s not okay for a daughter to have a boyfriend. It’s okay for a son to have a night out but prohibited for a daughter. It’s a bike for son, but public transport for daughter. So are we raising our children in a healthy environment? Are all of these things mean to protect the daughters? From whom are we protecting our daughters? These are the sons of other parents. Why are we doing so? Because somewhere while parenting we have planted a thought in our sons’ minds that they are superior, they have the right to inflict hardships, including violence, on girls.

The notion of honour goes back a very long time. It is associated with status. Since women were (essentially) owned they were for the "use" of their owners. If one wanted to transfer ownership of a woman (daughter) one had to ensure that she was unused. In modern England even Lady Diana had to go through virginity tests when she married Charles.

Progressive liberal societies should frame a uniform civil code ensuring total equality of both sexes in matters of inheritance, matrimony etc. Social mobilization against practices of honor killings, khap behavior, bride burning etc. will also be helpful. At individual family level we must not only pamper daughters but daughters-in-law too. Why do women continue to believe a ‘ghar jamaii’ is a bad thing but a girl must go to a guy’s home when she marries? So long as a woman believes this, she participates in patriarchy. Women have to assume a greater role in resisting patriarchal tendencies.

I think any policy that addresses social inequity fairly, or reasonably fairly, has my support. Discrimination on the basis of wealth, or caste, or gender, or status, seems repugnant to me. The Indian Constitution held men and women at par and if in getting our social and economic fabric in sync with its principles, our governments need to act by making laws favouring some sections of society, I am for it. The caveats would be - they should be short-term, not permanent measures, and they should be fair in the long run. If governments short change society by using these balancing tools as vote-catchers for their own survival, I think that is a distortion of the right intent.

Reservations, subsidies, scholarships are fine in a society that has suffered years of discrimination at the hands of an elite section. The discrimination in the US - where women could not vote till about a 100 years ago, and non-white citizens were discriminated against till 40 years back, also took time to correct and for that country to arrive as an egalitarian society. We have to be patient with social re-engineering too.

Modern society is transforming at a rapid pace. Parents are treating their daughters with increased fairness. Unfair treatments in rural areas are being resisted by daughters. As they become better educated, girls are having increased awareness of their rights. Women's rights to inheritance are expected to improve too in another decade. The seeds have been sown, thanks to the progresses in literacy and workplace, and by the efforts of women's organisations and the spread of women self-help groups. Hopefully, with West Bengal reserving 50% of seats in Panchayat elections for women, in 20 years, the benefits will accrue.

I wonder if women ruled the world, would they become as 'greedy' as the power seeking men. I feel they would lose their 'inner softness' and femininity, become more masculine, domineering and create a world where men would suffer greatly. If women had ruled the world it would not have been an ideal world, just as a world ruled by men today is not an ideal world. My ideal world would see both working hand in hand for a better world for all.



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