International Women’s Day (IWD) means different things to different people, as some celebrate it as a festival and others as a day that calls for action. International Women’s Day is the need of the day, as progress made by women needs due recognition, women need more empowerment, women need respect, women need no violence and equality in everything. ‘A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women’ is the theme of 2013 International Women’s Day given by the United Nations (UN) whereas year’s theme declared by the International Women’s Day is ‘The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum’. Though society is changing and progressing towards equal right of both the genders but still it needs a sustainable change in this direction. Celebrating women’s progress, achievement should not be limited to just one day but the whole year.
The objective of celebrating this day is to show love and gratitude towards women. Initially the day was started as a socialist political event. With time its association with political events has disappeared in many countries and people started celebrating IWD as an occasion or a festival. Austria, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland are the first nations where the first International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated on March 18, 1911. International Women’s Day took prominence in the West after 1977 when the United Nations General Assembly declared March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace. Now about 100 countries celebrate the International Women’s Day (IWD) and some countries have declared an officially holiday on this day. In some countries there is a tradition of giving presents to women on this day and IWD is celebrated just like Mother’s day or Valentine’s Day.
But what about the actual status of women? It is still struggling and calling for action. Why there is a need to write such articles every now and then where people are urged to show respect towards women? We don’t find any such write ups related to men. In present day’s society, especially in India, the status of women is questioned again and again. We keep consoling ourselves that everything is fine but actually it is not. Though many Indian women do held high offices, have equal rights, but yet more than half of them have to face discrimination, social crime, violence and challenges in day to day life. Life of a women is far more complex and tuff as compared to man. In a family a man goes to work, comes back and gets food and sleep. In the same family, a woman goes to work, gets up early in the morning, prepares breakfast, packs lunch, comes back from work, prepares dinner, serves her family meals, take care of her children and family. So who is doing more work is absolutely clear, but then also she is not getting the respect which she truly deserves.
Our society and culture in Vedic Period was far better than our so called modern society. In the Vedic Period women were educated, enjoyed equal status, used to get married at a mature age and had full rights to choose their husbands. But with Islamic invasion and Manusmriti, status of women in India started declining. Rights and freedom of women were curtailed. In Medieval Period status of women further deteriorated and many unwanted rituals were being followed blindly such as Sati (burning a widow at the pyre of her husband), child marriage, no remarriage of widows, veil custom, physical and sexual assault against women. These shattered woman to her soul and tore her apart. Sill such customs are part of our society though not completely but yes in remote areas where girls are married to a men much older than themselves, female fetuses are aborted and widows live a miserable life.
From time to time many reformers fought for the betterment of women in India such as Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Peary Charan Sarkar etc. With their efforts change happened to some extent, laws were made against the odds of the society but what about the thinking of a man who had started considering himself as a God of a woman. Root cause of woman’s problem in India is the thinking of a man and woman herself.
Though today, Indian women is participating in all fields like sports, education, science, IT, politics and many odd fields such as driving etc. But still there are many issues that need to be tackled such dowry, sexual harassment, crime against women, rape, child marriage, domestic violence, eve teasing and sex related abortions. Many women need help to get out of the society’s evil customs.
International Women’s Day is a great way to remember the importance of women in life but celebrating IWD just because other countries are celebrating won’t give us anything or solve our problem. Do not merely follow such trends and days blindly without knowing the importance associated with them. The objective will be clear once the importance is understood. So if we really want to celebrate International Women’s Day and have love for our mother, sister, wife and girl child then we have to take a pledge that there will be a total respect for women in our society and sure we will set an example of great respect, admiration and respect towards women.
Happy International Women’s Day!!!