First off: a very Happy Women’s Day to all my fellow women. Sure, we may have disagreements. We fight. We scratch. We bite. But, in all honesty, we couldn’t do without each other. Love you all! 😄
The debate on women’s safety has never been so strident as it is now, especially in India, where the banning of the documentary India’s Daughter by Leslee Udwin based on the life of Jyoti Singh, the victim of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape, still rankles. While it is true that it is an issue–that the government should up the ante on women’s safety–what seems almost blasphemous is also true: that the world has never been safer for women than it is now.
Yes, it’s true. While misogynists still exist today, more people are actually in favour of women’s rights than, say, a century back. And this is a vital step towards equality of men and women (notice equality, not more rights.) Why on earth would any sane person think so? Here’s why:
1. Women are actually allowed to raise their voice.
See, just a hundred years ago, women were expected to be the backbone of society, to be the caring mother and wife, to have no existence apart from that in their homes. These words by Stanley Bowdle, Representative of Ohio in the U.S. Senate, pretty much sum it up:
“Women; have they a mission? Yes; it is to rule in the world of love and affection—in the home. It is not to rule in the State. They have a function to perform which precludes the latter sort of rule. Man is king of this universe; woman is queen. The queen rules when the king is dead, or becomes a mollycoddle, and the American man is not that yet.” [Applause]
These words were spoken on 12 January 1915, when Congress voted against women’s suffrage–for the last time. (Mashable has a pretty good article about this.) Fast-forward to 2015, where nearly every country in the world has universal adult suffrage–and those who don’t are fast moving with the times (the 2015 elections will be the first time women can vote in Saudi Arabia, for instance). It’s not just the vote, though; in every other way women are just as empowered as their male counterparts when they see something that has to be changed.
2. Men recognise that women are individuals as well.
Woman was merely man’s helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God but as far as man is concerned, he is by himself the image of God. –Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430)
The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.
We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. It is time now to write the next chapter – and to write it in the books of law. —Lyndon B. Johnson
Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity. —M. K. Gandhi
3. Women make full use of their opportunities.
Although this one is kinda obvious at first glance, it is astonishingly true that in spite of their lessened role in society, many women in the past did not even question their being dominated over by men. They accepted unquestioningly the role assigned to them of keeping the family together. While this was, and still is, a highly important role, it was given less importance than that of the male–that is, of earning bread for the family. In the words of Grace Kelly,
Women’s natural role is to be a pillar of the family.
4.With the ongoing controversy on women’s safety, women are actually safer than ever before.
5. The young generation is growing up in a world where men and women are finally given equal importance.