Wow! One woman can show that women are not just meant for the home and their families; that women are not just meant to do jobs and earn a salary; that women are not just meant for service and social work. But that, women are meant for spear heading social change and social transformation. Women are meant to paint on a larger canvas of life and to hold up at least half the sky!
What an exhilarating experience it is to hear about Chhavi Rajawat, the latest fire brand Sarpanch of Soda village in Rajasthan. What an amazing woman is she! She is a woman with a vision for herself and her fellow villagers. She displays the qualities of a transformational leader who has the vision and the will to dedicate her-self to the meaningful task of development of the village. That’s what makes it exhilarating. What a glorious aim and what a glorious spirit. I would not call it a personal sacrifice at all – at best I could call it a passion and a mission- that too in the field of political transformation. We have a few good examples of excellent women who have made a name for themselves in different fields such as social work, health, engineering, fashion, films, industry and business. And not to forget the inimitable Ms. Kiran Bedi who conquered the male dominated sphere of the police force to carve a niche for her-self and set an example for other women to follow. But what Chhavi Rajawat has done is certainly again different!
A big challenge as I see it for her is the rural setup which she has chosen as her area of work. For an urban schooled and trained MBA -to interact and impress the rural minds as well as to face the rural politics is a huge task. My several years of living and working for rural development in a small village in M.P were rich in experience and education. It put me in touch with the local masses and their mindsets. More importantly it introduced me to the local politics of the feudal landlords and their continuous oppressive measures against the masses. To find and fight your way through this rural morass is a daunting task. A half hearted social work will not do at all. It requires a total dedication of one’s life to the mission that will allow the changes to be seen however slow and imperceptible in the beginning.
Chhavi Rajawat is proving a very significant point that educated women with vision and grit can enter politics and that too at the grass root level and make a difference. We all know about her terrific speech at the United Nations conference on poverty and the impact she made. Another citadel has been conquered is how I feel about the whole thing. Women are hoisting flags everywhere even in known and un-chartered territories. That is exactly what is needed from society. Parents and guardians should train their daughters for bigger and better roles to play for the society which is equally theirs and does not just belong to the men-folk. Women should be part of the political development and change. Women must open their minds to playing on bigger and better fields. We are committing a crime by restricting them to limited thinking and limited movement by drawing the proverbial ‘laxman rekha’ around their lives all the time. We keep instilling fear of this and that in their minds and keep them under the shadow. We keep thrusting outdated morals and values on their heads in the name of tradition and then blame them for being precisely that.
May we have more inspiring models, not fashion models, nor fashionable models but unique role models like Chhavi. May the power of all women awaken inside their souls and may they break free of the visible and invisible shackles. That would be the day of women’s empowerment.