Namita is a very good person by any definition. She is good and good-looking. She has a good job and does well at work always because she is efficient. And one thing she does not like is to beg for whatever is due to her — money, promotion, comfort. She always insists that women should stop begging for equality as well. “If you are efficient and if you stand together as women, then you shall and should get whatever is due to you,” she often says.
So, when the news was flashed that the Women’s Quota Bill lapsed in Parliament without transaction of any business in that regard for the fourth time, Namita got very angry. “Why should women beg for quota etc?” –she asked angrily at a Women’s Day celebrations.
The thought Namita pushed that evening was worthy of serious attention. For, it is for several years now that Parliament has not passed the law in favour of appropriate women’s representation in elective houses. Women’s organisations and activists have been asking — almost begging — for the Bill to be passed and made into a law. Unfortunately, all the pleadings by women have fallen on deaf ears of the male chauvinists in political arena. Namita hates all the pleading by women.
In fact, Namita is a representative of all the common women in the country. They do not like the begging and pleading for women’s equal rights etc. They feel, women must not be bothered by legislation etc. For, their experience shows, legislation does not lead to women’s emancipation. Of course, legislations have their value. But they only act as symbolisms and have a limited purpose. Many progressive legislations in favour of granting equal status to women have been enacted since Independence but how many are put to use by women themselves is the question.
So, even though legislation is available, its implementation is possible fully only when women in general become are awakened and alert all the time to protect, preserve and promote their interests. It is a global experience that men-folk become aware of women’s rights when the women are alert in actual life, and ask — not beg — for their due and see to it that they get it.
This is not easy, of course, and requires a lot of mobilisation. Unfortunately, all the efforts to mobilise women have tended to go the political route, which serves little purpose. For, when any movement assumes a political overtone, then its effectiveness gets diminished by the very nature of the game of politics. For, when any movement becomes political in form, it does not take much time to affect the content as well. The issue of women’s quota in legislative houses has gone exactly the same route, not in favour of women.
When the overall atmosphere is like this, Indian women need not beg and borrow for favours. All they need to do is to follow the path of self-enhancement and rise above their own individual and collective weaknesses. Women need to assert themselves in every sphere of work, personal life and social existence. They should be aware of their rights (as well as their duties) and work diligently towards attaining them. Women need to form autonomous groups for their rights and for specific issues and decline to align themselves with political parties if they are to have a voice and an impact. They must stand up for themselves and not expect anyone else to do things for them.
Around the International Women’s Day, this could be the only message for our-selves.