Women who have broken stereotypes, made a difference in society
As the world celebrates International Women's Day The Hans India spoke to the voices of courage without which the society would not have been a...
As the world celebrates International Women's Day The Hans India spoke to the voices of courage without which the society would not have been a witness to the difference.
Senior IPS officer D Roopa grew up as an independent woman and, coming from an erudite family, she never encountered gender discrimination.
However, in the first week of her joining the IPS Academy, Roopa's colleague asked her in a condescending manner, "Why you women select IPS? What do you think you will be able to do here?"
The remark stunned Roopa as she did not expect such a low opinion about women colleagues from a person who qualified the most difficult exam in the country.
"At the Academy we were officers first and then women.
So there is no concession in training. The physical hardships are the same for everybody. But when you get posted on the field that is the time when society again reminds you that you're a woman because when authorities consider your posting they think multiple times as to whether this woman will fit the bill.
I feel that since the police department is male dominated somehow in the top positions where there are vested interests the people who post us, mostly men, feel more comfortable with male officers than female officers," she shares.
Roopa further states that in bureaucracy major decisions take place during wining and dining which happens after the office hours for which the women officers cannot be part of.
"A lot of coziness is built there for which women officers are not a party to. Here, women also lose out. If something goes wrong in the system, the failure of a woman is attributed to her gender while the failure of a man is attributed to the circumstances.
So this is a major drawback and this has to change," she adds.
In order to fight the stereotypes, Roopa believes that a woman works more hard than her male counterparts.
"In order to not lose out, a woman works hard to compensate for these stereotypes and these stereotypes are themselves wrong. A woman's decision is not easily accepted by her male subordinates, it will always be accepted with a pinch of salt," Roopa says.
The President Medal winner states that a woman investigator is kind, empathetic, sympathetic and considerate and these help in not only dealing with a victim but also gives a police a people friendly image.
"Woman investigators can bring out the truth from the accused in a better manner than the male counterparts," Roopa remarks.
A few years ago film director Kavitha Lankesh lost her sister Gauri Lankesh to the assassins bullets, an incident that left the entire family in trauma.
Sharing her emotions, Kavitha says, "Losing my sister Gauri, was an extremely shocking and traumatic for all of us, especially for me and my 13-year-old daughter who was very close to her.
My daughter used to call her "avva" meaning mother, a term mostly used in the rural areas now. Gauri was a very vocal and strong woman who was not afraid to stand for secularism, our constitution.
Hence she got trolled and even got death threats. But coming from the family of P. Lankesh , my father who dared to bring down corrupt governments, irrespective of the party, and who as a journalist never flinched from acting like an opposition, which is what the Fourth Estate stands for, we assumed, that Gauri was safe and trolls were just harmless, faceless people. But we never expected Gauri would meet such a horrible fate.
In comparison to her sister and father, Kavitha was not so vocal about the issues. On the contrary she believed that cinema was a safer harbinger to address issues that continue to plague our society.
She feels that filmmakers, activists, environmentalists, lawyers, students, artists who raise voice against the ruling government, are harassed and attacked.
"After Gauri's assassination, my daughter who was traumatized, understandably so, was my censor board. She would tell me not to post anything against the government.
Though I held back to a certain extent and continue to self censor myself, I feel if we cannot stand up and speak against the inequalities, the horrific rapes and murders that happen every day, the injustice, the plundering of our environment in the name of development, what are we for?
Can we be silent? If we are silent against all the horrors, are we dead? It is as good as being dead. Yes, so when I post something, anything , I do get trolled, even threatened sometimes, but ignoring these faceless, most often paid people is probably the only way ahead," Kavitha added.
Another voice of change is Srijana Pradhan, a nurse, who went above and beyond putting her own life at risk to save a COVID patient by administering CPR. She takes pride in her profession and states that the family of the patient may forget the names of the nurses but they would never forget the efforts they took to save the patient.
A mix of emotions fill her while giving CPR to patients.
"I used to assume that things would come back to normal but we human's bodies are unpredictable. While giving the compression I was praying that we could save the patient.
I needed to be there for her after minutes of compression and we heard a call from doctors saying that they had not had a shockable rhythm yet but still we kept hopes and started the CPR. Every night I walked back home after my shifts, I took shower but used to have sleepless nights as the cries of her relatives used to haunt me.
While recalling the incident tears rolled down my eyes that I could save the patient. Even today before leaving for work I pray of not seeing death," Pradhan recalls.
She is the Executive Director at India Foundation for the Arts (IFA). She extended tremendous support to three communities – sex workers, transgenders and people in the arts because of the stigma and prejudice against sex workers and transgenders.
There have been novels, movies and columns highlighting the plight of the sex workers and transgenders. On the other hand the patriarchal society is still reluctant to give them the space they deserve.
Ghosh says in a society where women are both workshipped in temples and beaten black and blue at home one does not need to look at how sex workers are represented to know it is hypocritical. But more than hypocritical she states that the society is fearful of difference and change.
Elaborating her thoughts, she says, "Unfortunately most of popular culture looks at both sex workers and transfolk as deviants at worst and victims at best. There are strong prejudices against them and discrimination at multiple levels. Even where their stories are told - they are sad stories, almost voyeuristic.
They seldom speak of the joys and celebrations in their lives or the stories of their agony. I think society tries very hard to fit them in the heteronormative patriarchal definitions of man woman, husband wife kid, family, etc and fails miserably.
And somehow all such regular conventions and definitions seem to fall apart when one looks at their real lives closely. It both worries and scares society and rocks the status quo boat vigorously. Simply put sex workers and transfolk defy norms that are set by men even within the framework of being oppressed by patriarchy.
And since society is dominated still by such men it just makes them super jittery."
Roopa, Kavitha, Srijana and Ghosh will be participating in the second edition of Orion Wempower by Brigade.
Sangeeta Lala, President Retail, Fanzart started the company at the age of 50 and enabled more than 65 business owners to take their lives and businesses to their next level by becoming our franchise partners all over India and SAARC countries.
Her suggestion to the women who have lost hope to start fresh life is, "Age is just a number, those who count it, will feel the weight of it on their shoulders."
For Lala, women's day to honour all those women who have taken a step to fight all odds and yet risen above.
"It is a day where the world takes time out to acknowledge all those achievements. It gives me so much pleasure to be able to share this day with all those lovely, hardworking and determined women who have laid the foundation for a world where women get to believe and when they believe, they achieve.
Every single success for a woman is lighting the way for the next one. I have been inspired by the ones before me and hope to inspire the ones after. I am proud to be a woman," she says.
For Himani Khanna, Co-founder and Director at Continua Kids this year Women's Day is special and significant in terms of promoting women as leaders.
"I believe that more and more women need to be motivated to take up leadership positions, as they are sincere, visionary, perseverant, empathetic and passionate.
Being a women entrepreneur, I have made an attempt to contribute to the society via my community and social entrepreneur project where my organization works not just towards treating and managing child with developmental disabilities and special needs, but it also works extensively towards raising awareness about these disorders, sensitizing the populations and having a vision of an inclusive society with equal rights for all.
This Women's day we must promote women as leaders and try and create a world of equal opportunity post the Covid pandemic era," she says.