BY: ANANYA MOHAPATRA, CLASS IX-G
International Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th of March every year, to enlighten the world about women empowerment.
Before anything else, we need to understand what women empowerment is all about. It is not about women being superior to men. It is not about ‘girl power’ or ‘ladies first’. It is not about women deserving more or better than men. It is simply about men and women being perceived and treated as equal.
Women empowerment ensures that females all around the world are granted more rights than what they had before and are allowed to enjoy the same privileges and ultimately, the same life as males.
A world without women isn’t a world worth living in, or a world that can be lived in, for without women, life cannot exist. Women are at the core of society and one of the most important contributors to this world. With more people being educated, they are becoming aware of the value of women. Job and educational opportunities are springing up for women everywhere. Their opinions are listened to with consideration and thought. One cannot deny that women are slowly being given the equal treatment that they deserve.
And yet, from childhood, instilled in the deepest parts of us, is the fact that women are different from and weaker than men. If a boy hits a girl the punishment is more severe as it is accepted that boys are stronger. Girls cannot wear revealing clothes, but boys can be bare-chested. If a boy shows slightly emotional aspects of himself, he is called a girl and told to behave ‘like a man’.
This is wrong. Why is crying considered weak and hence feminine? Why shouldn’t boys wear pink or have long hair? Why shouldn’t girls wear shorts or have a tattoo?
But because we have been conditioned to think this way from a very early age, we are stuck with these ideas and opinions, no matter how hard we try to change them and develop a broader outlook.
Big issues are being changed –like equal educational and employment opportunities for women. But the little things are yet to be improved.
These things need to be imprinted in our mind as early as possible, because observation, learning and habits, start from a young age. Children are the world’s future, which is why it’s very important for them to learn and accept gender equality, so that women are given equal treatment in big and small matters, without a second thought.
There is no particular way in which International Women’s Day should be ‘celebrated’. It isn’t a festival for us to celebrate. What we need to work on is changing the mindsets of adults and children alike, and what better place to start than at school?
Students should be shown how ordinary women – not only famous ones – can take small steps to make a big change. Class discussions can be held about what can be done to change people’s mindsets and make the young ones understand the importance of women and gender equality.
And why should only one day be kept for valuing women? Their significance should be understood all year round.
After all, beside every successful man there is an equally successful woman.