On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2010, All India Forgotten Women’s Association (AIFWA), True Equity Network (TEN) India and Andhra Pradesh Mothers-in-law Protection Association (APMPA) are celebrating the many achievements and successes of women. At the same time, we address the dilemmas of present day women, and look at the way forward to achieve true empowerment of women.
It is an undeniable fact that women today enjoy a lot of opportunities and independence compared to women of previous generations. Women are constantly being reminded of their rights and privileges. The Government is constantly doling out policies claiming to empower women and to encourage women’s participation in all walks of life.
We have more women attending schools and colleges, more women graduating with degrees and diplomas, and more women entering varied professions and earning their livelihood. Women are competing with men in academic, corporate, service, bureaucratic, political and other careers. Women now own property and wealth of their own.
Women are realizing their ability to set educational, career, and economic goals for themselves and achieving them. This is definitely worth celebrating and cheering.
Since the last 15-20 years, more and more young women are also putting career first and delaying marriage and children. They are buying into the idea that husband, children and family do not necessarily bring happiness and satisfaction, but on the contrary, obstruct a woman’s freedom. They are convinced that career, individual pursuits and financial freedom promise more of both satisfaction and happiness, as they seemingly do to men. Women’s emancipation has become synonymous with being like men and doing everything they do.
As a result, more women are deliberately or inadvertently relinquishing the choices that their grandmothers and mothers had. More women who want to avoid becoming “slaves of the family” are now becoming slaves of corporate entities and feeling trapped inside offices instead of homes. Women who want to marry, have children, enjoy family life and also have a career are unable to figure out what they need to do to have them all or if it is in fact possible to have them all.
In this age of nuclear families, women are planning their lives with little or no guidance, and with few good role models to look up to. They are struggling to reconcile their natural desire for family and motherhood with the unrealistic standards imposed by radical feminism. The natural pleasures of being a wife, raising children and looking after a home are now turning into a source of agony to many women. Those women who choose to put family first are being portrayed as inferior, and those who walk out on the family at the drop of a hat, labelled liberated women.
As a result, today there are more women separated or never married. Divorce rates are on the rise, and close to 70% of all divorce cases are initiated by women. There are a rising number of women raising their children alone. There are more women with infants and very young children working full-time jobs, and consigning their children to day care centres.
Now there are new justifications for classifying all women as “oppressed” and guilt-tripping or demanding the society to grant them special concessions in every field just for being women. In spite of all the “liberation”, more women are left wondering why happiness is still a mirage, and satisfaction nowhere in sight.
Why did such a situation arise?
Women’s rights activists may claim to champion a woman’s right to be treated as a human (just as a man is), but they forget that we are not just humans but are also women, different from men, with different natural desires and needs which cannot be ignored. Just as we would suffer if we were not treated like humans, we also suffer if we are deprived of the natural gifts and privileges of womanhood.
The feminist movement clearly taught women to demand more rights, privileges and laws. It has taught women to break the shackles of their homes and to step out into the “world of opportunities”. However, it has not taught women how to handle freedom, how to take responsibility for one’s own choices and know when to stop to avoid pitfalls.
Depending on the immediate and extended family for support in case of doubt, difficulty or distress is a thing of the past. Women’s organizations, police stations and courts have become proxy family for the modern woman and dish out an elaborate menu of laws to satisfy her whims more than her needs. By routinely attributing traits of low self-esteem, self pity, vagrancy, vulnerability and helplessness to women and girls, they have turned women into mendicants and parasites.
The women’s movement has also propagated the practice of blaming the men and the so-called “male-dominated” society for all the lapses and failures that result from the irrational ideas and practices advocated by feminism.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we would like to call upon women to free themselves from self-pity and negativity. We call upon women to use their education, learning and individuality to make wise choices and take responsibility for the outcomes. We call upon women to stop complaining that they are unable to have the cake and eat it too just because they are women, because the truth is, neither can men.
We call upon the citizens and Government of India to recognize that:
- Promoting women’s welfare does not mean weakening and destroying marriage.
- Liberating women does not mean destroying their biological and social privileges of being a wife and a mother.
- Protecting women does not mean supporting misuse of the law, violating human rights and destroying families.
- Empowering women does not mean encouraging blackmail, extortion and parasitism by women.
- Encouraging women in all walks of life does not mean providing special privileges and lowered standards of performance.
We must take the following steps to ensure true empowerment and welfare of women:
- Non-serious family problems should be corrected through programs offering voluntary assistance to individuals in troubled marriages.
- India should be prevented from becoming an anti-marriage, anti-family, fatherless “welfare state”.
- Laws and policies must be based on principles of equity and fairness, and not radical feminist ideologies and false statistics.
- The feminist culture of mass irresponsibility should be done away with.
- Women should be encouraged to inculcate self-esteem, reject preferential treatment, and succeed in their chosen areas of study or career by proving their true worth.
We urge everyone to join our movement for true empowerment and help end the gender war.