Women – From Homemakers to Changemakers
Present generation Indian women are brought up with ‘Study-work-marry-family’ mindset. Right from their childhood, they learn about the important role that they play in a family, from their mothers and women of their family. They are taught to manage their career –family lifestyle; but are never taught as to their important role in shaping the society.
Sarojini Naidu once said that every woman has a duty to perform, apart from her family & job, which is that of serving the society. It need not necessarily be an action that will make the headlines; it can even be a small deed – educating people, creating awareness about social evils, planting trees, caring for the abandoned etc, which will make an impact on the lives of the others in the society. This was said many decades ago, but sadly, even today we do not see many women working for social causes. Movies do come up with women- centric theme that showcases the heroine fighting all odds to stand up for the injustice in her society. But when it comes to reality there are only a very few women social activists in India. When it comes to politics, the number of women can be easily counted. Why is this trend in our country? Are our women incapable?
Typical Indian Girl
When a girl child is born, the entire family begins to plan her future. They dress her up in pretty frocks, get her stylish accessories in gold, diamond and whatnot, get elegant dolls and kitchen sets. Right from day one the baby girl is exposed to every ‘typical-girl- things’. She learns music, art, dance, cooking, baking,oregami and all that is classified as ‘soft’ and ‘just for a girl’ activities. There are parents who train their girls in sports, martial arts but then they are just a minority. Rest of the girls are condemned to school books and soft activities. Once the girl enters her teenage, her world changes – it is all about fashion, dressing up, music, partying and Facebook. Our society has defined and restricted a girl’s life to just these elements and the girls are just fine with it.
Current generation girls are highly talented, can multi-task and can be revolutionary if the situation arises. They no longer want to be ensnared in a cage. They want to explore every field and excel men in almost every sphere. However, this is a changing trend only in the higher strata of our society. . And this minimal change will in no way help to improve the lives of other women in India. They need to think beyond New Year parties, birthday parties, kitty parties. They have so much of talent, ability and power that could be put to much better use. They need to shift their focus from being just beautiful damsels who spend a majority of their time in dressing up, shopping, TV and Facebook .
Change in the grassroots level
Women, especially, homemakers are well capable of coming up with solutions for the most common, day-to-day problems, in a quicker way. This is because they are the ones who come face-to-face with them. This does not mean that they have to become civil servants or contest the elections. Women need to get-together to handle the social issues that are happening at their doorstep.
Here are some ways by which every woman can contribute to the society, right from their homes. This is how I am trying to bring about a change in my society.
- The women-folk of a colony can come together and organise waste management, increase the green cover and ambience of their colony. All they need to invest is a bit of their time for all other resources are available at their homes – water for trees, waste bins for waste management etc.
- The educated women can teach the less-privileged children and illiterate women in their locality for free – Education is the basic solution for almost every social issue. Apart from spending time learning to weave, sew, bake etc , home makers can spend their leisure hours after their daily chores in learning about the laws of their country, the rights that they are entitled to as citizens . This will help them stand up against any injustice meted out to them.
- They can do this at the comfort of their homes without compromising their family, children. They can take turns to represent their colony’s demands to the local corporation and get facilities for their colony.
If every street, colony has this kind of a contribution from its women-folk, it will be very easy for the Government bodies to function. For all that they have to do is co-ordinate with the women team of every colony to effectively implement the government policies. We have a lot of self-help groups that have helped women to become financially independent. But here again, it is through their culinary and craft skills that they make money. They need to think beyond that.
Women as change makers
Women in the middle and lower strata of the society are bound by superstitions and traditional customs. Their family and their children are top priority and they devote their entire life towards the family’s happiness. That is what their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers have done, so they are doing the same. There is absolutely no wrong in this mindset but then they need to think a little bit about their society, their country too.
Home makers need to come out of this shell and turn as change-makers of their own society. They need to understand their vital role in bringing about a change. This needs a lot of support from the men-folk of the family also. Just as Sridevi’s husband jokes -“ Sashi was born to make ladoos”- in the movie English Vinglish, majority of men opine that women are born only to cook and keep family. This mindset is a major deterrent to those women who struggle to juggle their lives between family and society.
Mothers are the best example for children – A hard-working mother who stands up for her own family and the society will serve as an inspiration for the child. Here is how a mother can go about it.
- Set an example to your kid. Let them see you being actively involved in transforming the society for betterment. Practice and then preach.
- Talk to your children – both girl and boy about politics, history of our country and the great leaders who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Tell them stories about our freedom struggle and of our brave kings and queens, inculcate a strong sense of patriotism right from their childhood. This is what my parents did to me and my sister and I am sure we will carry it on to our successive generations. When we are facing brain drain with most of our talented youth benefitting other countries, it is the mother who can put an end to this trend.
- Teach them about our Constitution, the current political trends. Allow them to voice their views on politics. Encourage them to discuss and debate on social issues at home with other family members. Being able to interact with kids due to my role as a part-time teacher, I make sure that they learn some amount of interesting facts about our Country’s history and politics. Narrating anecdotes, short stories related to our freedom fighters helps them to develop interest in a subject that had been deemed to be otherwise boring.
- Discourage family members from discriminating between a girl and boy’s bringing up. If a girl is interested in world affairs and politics, encourage her. She has just the same rights, capabilities and talents as that of her brother.
No point in complaining or lamenting about the evils and injustices meted out to women. We need to be the change that they wish to see in this world. This change in the mindset of Indian women, right from the grassroots level will propel India to greater heights.