Women's revolution is here
No more coyness and shaming, no more silence. Indian women are demanding to be heard and this time, they won’t back down
'Do you feel empowered?' I was asked by someone this week. To be honest, I had no straight answer. Sure, I am not shackled and enslaved, I am free to make my own decisions, live my life my own way— or am I? What is it truly like to be a woman in India in 2018? Let's consider the week that has gone by as a portrayal of the life of the quintessential Indian woman.
Health and nutrition rights elude Indian women, screamed a report tabled by Sahaj Equal Measures 2030. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, women have taken over the reins of agriculture from men. In fact, 83 per cent of women participate in farming today compared to 67 per cent men in Indian villages. But their wages are less than their male counterparts and perpetually on a decline.
This week, I also learnt that the risk of breast cancer is increasing among Indian women in their late 20s and early 30s. 15 out of every 100,000 women in India commit suicide and this number is 2.1 times the global average. Cricketer Vrinda Rathi from Mumbai became the country's first national woman umpire. And while India ranks an abysmal 121 out of 131 nations in female workforce participation, our women waste more and more time tending to household chores such as travelling long distances to fetch water!
Some other eye-grabbing headlines were of a nun, who protested against a rape-accused priest, being heckled, a 100-year-old woman being raped by a 20-year-old man, a gangrape in Assam, some rapes reported in Goa and Gurgaon, and a right-wing ideologue tweeting a 'rape joke'. All this while the government plans to fight rape by banning 827 porn sites. This happened in just 24 hours of a news cycle.
But as life goes on inconsequentially for most of the nation and the picture looks grim for women in India everywhere, I promise you that change is here. From asserting the importance of consent and that 'no means no' to fighting for safer work places devoid of sexual harassment, Indian women are slowly but surely taking control of what should have rightfully been bequeathed to them in the first place. They are shattering the glass ceiling. They are not coy to call out their oppressors, they are not scared of taking on behemoths, they are not weak to break those dogmatic chains that have kept them pinned down forever.
The Indian woman is alive today as 2018 enters its winter stretch. She demands to be heard and this time all you can really do is listen. Menstruation is not to be hidden away in little black plastic bags, periods are not to be invisible, bras are an anatomical need and should we want to discard it, we can. No amounts of shaming and intimidation can stop the wheels that have turned. There will be no going back this time from what has started. For all those who pontificate about women asserting their rights through social media campaigns alone should visit that temple where women are ready to step out of stereotypes, waiting at the doorstep of a sanctum sanctorum that won't have them. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but the time is nigh. We are awake, we have risen, and the revolution is here or haven't you heard us knocking?
(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)