“Society should allow girls to blossom and not stunt their growth under the weight of gender bias,” said Sumitra Mahajan at the release of report ‘Innovative practices for care of elderly women in India’ researched by NGO ‘Stree Shakti’. The NGO collaborated with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and presented the report at the Constitution Club of India in Delhi.
Making a case for women being able to do any job efficiently, she gave her own example. As Lok Sabha Speaker, she has to deal with protesting MPs almost every day. But it never enters her mind that she can’t deal with that because she is a woman. “We have been hearing over ages, in families, ‘tu ladki hai…to aisa mat kar’ (you are a girl so, do not do this or that). But, we should tell girls that they can achieve more because they are girls.”
“Whenever I meet girls in schools, I tell them to play their heart out, because, they may be just fetching utensils and doing chores in kitchens in future,” she added.
Mahajan also emphasised the need to change attitudes at the grassroots. So while the government can have organisations like the Women Empowerment Committee in Parliament, ‘societal change’ is what will make the real difference. She also mentioned that as times are changing we must not disrespect convention , but at the same time convention should not be a way of restricting women.
“People think by keeping a veil, we are showing respect, but one can also do the same by not keeping it or show disrespect by keeping it. It’s all in the attitude,” Mahajan said.
As for women being treated as goddesses is concerned, she rejected the idea, and articulated that women should be treated as human beings and no less or more.
Women like her can change the discourse about the position of women in society and give it a more refined and prominent meaning. More power to such women!
Feature Image Credit: India Today