“Women to empower women”- 10 July 2013
When Democratic Senator Wendy Davis stood up in Texas Senate at Austin at 11.18 a.m.to speak against an anti-abortion bill that would have harmed much public interest, she might not have known that she was about to create a history of sorts. For, when she stopped, it was 10 p.m. a full eleven hours of studied speech, and when sat down in the Senate’s lounge at 1 p.m., it was a full 14 hours after she first took to her feet. During this long effort of filibustering of a bill, Wendy Davis did not sit down, did not eat, did not use the bathroom, drawing the attention of the American nation, so much so that on his twitter, President Barack Obama wrote, “Something special is happening in Austin tonight”.
This account in the international media did not present only a story of an attempt to filibuster a bill, but also denoted how determined women have stood their ground for right causes and have enhanced the sense of dignity of being women. Fifty-year-old Wendy Davis did not sit back even for a moment, and did not allow Republican Senators to block her speech by using stringent laws against filibustering. And though she was aware that she might not be able to stall the bill, she said after her 14-hour effort, “I am tired but pleased that a spotlight is shining on the failure of our leadership”.
The news reports about Wendy’s feat also explain the hard struggle she has put up to come up in life, as if to interpret how she got this grit. Reading those accounts makes one proud that women of substance have often raised the dignity of womanhood all over the world through history of countless hundreds of years.
There were times when male-dominated societies felt shocked when women started asserting themselves. And that element of shock has not vanished even now as men still feel shocked at the temerity of women who stand up to raise a point and hold on despite opposition, browbeating and even physical aggression.
Of course, even though such experiences pop up to make their mark, a good number of women still do not muster enough courage to stand up for many things that are patently unjust and intended to damn them, daunt them. What hurts most is that shining examples, like that of Wendy Davis, still do not inspire common women in general to stand for themselves firmly. What hurts more is that when they are subjected to oppression by the society in general, big numbers of women still buckle, in spite of the evidence from all over that if they stand up, they make the desired mark.
What matters most is the readiness to stand up. And the locale each time does not have to be a Senate. It can be any absolutely nondescript location where a woman’s courage is challenge — in the kitchen, in the marketplace, on any occasion in the family, at the workplace. The cause, too, need not have to be a legislative bill; it could be anything — harassment at workplace, browbeating or actual beating by husband, ragging by in-laws, misbehaviour by a wayward son…! What matters is standing up. If the woman stands up, she makes the mark. If she shies away, she gets bullied even by cowards.
But what is needed most is a Wendy Davis-like persistence and steadfast belief in one’s cause. Many women adopt that path, but most don’t, and that hurts. Many women talk of the threats and their inability to counter those. But it has been seen on many occasions that many threats are only perceived, not real. If the women learn to make out the difference, they make the grade.
Yet, because this does not happen on most occasions, one wonders if there is some difficulty in our education to women. If the flaw is in this area, then we need to get going immediately with rectification. And that seems to be the core area where much work needs to be done. This is not an official business, however; this relates to a social initiative to make our women stronger. And who can do this work better than women themselves? They have to ensure that their daughters are trained well, their daughters-in-law are cared for well, and their pride is safeguarded well.