A facebook post by a very good friend sparked a controversy and of course a conversation that triggered my thoughts today on what really is empowerment of women.
I believe, like most of the 'concepts', empowerment would mean so many different things to people at different times. This blog entry is just a rambling of what I feel about it in the Indian context.
If it was as in the early afghan invasion era, where women had to be protected carefully, even a woman freely walking around on her own might have been considered empowerment. Probably in the independence war era, it would have meant the same and more, women getting more or less equal opportunities to fight against the foreign oppression. This was also the time when the seeds of liberation were sprouting in more human pots than in several prior centuries.
What does it really mean now!? I feel it is about freeing women from the centuries of stranglehold on various fronts - cultural, educational, social and spiritual - more than ever.
My vision is simple:
- A child should not be discriminated against pursuing any sort of education she likes
- A woman should be able to freely go on the streets at midnight, as the Mahatma also wished for
- No woman should be ill-treated or physically abused, irrespective of the place being a house or a school or a bus or a train
- Every person, man or woman, should have the basic freedom of choice without any external pressure
It is said that in the vedic period, a woman could wear the sacred thread just like a man - not based on being born in a caste, but out of her own capability. A woman would dissolve her family at will and pursue a spiritual path because that was considered the ultimate thing everyone aspired.
It is shameful that such a free culture is more or less lost now. But if we can create back or restore a culture even closer to that state, that should be the minimum contribution from our generation to the next.