International Women’s Day 2020
International Women’s Day designated to recognize women’s role in society.
Is it happening in the world?
On this day, I take the opportunity to honor my grandmothers on my mother and father’s side along with my mother for their courage and iron will to live life with dignity and honor despite those severely lacking in morality, ethics, etiquettes and human value continue to sling mud using their moral yard stick in judging a woman on her chastity and character.
My paternal grandmother – you lost your husband when you were only 19 years old with two young children – one of them being my father – the oldest then only two years old and your other son born a posthumous child. You decided to take care of your family owned agricultural land in Tamil Nadu, India growing rice, green produces and fruit varieties besides poultry farming that you successfully managed until your last days in life without being dependent on anyone not even your oldest son, my father, a global traveler since 1954 as a thriving Senior Executive in a commercial airline British Airways that he started his career with and passed away while being in service with the airline having completed more than 25 years of exemplary service for which he was honored in the early 1970’s in London. When he passed away at rather a young age, people from all walks of life – the poorest of the poor to the richest, affluent and influential in society including then British Airways CEO Sir John Gorman flew from London specially to take part in the funeral service. Having lost his father at a tender age, he was raised mostly by his grandmother and his achievements in every respect duly attributed to strong women, his life partner i.e. my mother in his life.
My grandmother on my mother’s side – you were responsible for the well being and successful lives of all your five children that you had to deal with by yourself given the lack of proper support from your spouse. You passed on great values, positive virtues, rich Indian traditions and inculcated the importance of hygiene to remain healthy to your children, grand children and great grand children.
My mother – You were the pillar and admired not only for your natural inner and outer beauty but also your grit to sail through rough seas in a society that is not always kind to women in particular at times of struggles and sorrow after the demise of my father. Your intelligence, sharpness in understanding life and the complexities were extraordinary. Your sacrifices as a wife, mother and in other duties in the family you came from and the one you had to maintain after your marriage were commendable. Your adeptness to fix anything from basic to serious household repairs and problems that are generally assigned as male domain were praiseworthy. You were a great historian in Indian and world history. You were interested in world events, current affairs and above all Tamil and English literature extended into Shakespeare plays and poetry. You wanted to be a teacher in your life but then you had to oblige Indian custom being the oldest child in your family and had to get married at the age of seventeen soon after your high school graduation. But then your determination and perseverance enabled all your five children including myself to be graduates (unlike the vicious false propaganda about me as an alleged school drop out spread by those for whom I remain eternal arch nemesis )and economically independent especially after losing your husband at a young age. I use this moment to thank you for being an excellent teacher not only teaching the school curriculum, life experience to all of us and your grand children, in fact I owe my proficiency in my mother tongue Tamil to speak, write and communicate fluently entirely to you.
I salute you all women in my family and around the world enduring challenges and triumphantly proving not to ever under estimate a woman’s role in a family that defines a society. Again a society that constantly weighs in on women’s potential based on own standard denying the benefit of the doubt to women’s intellect and knowledge to survive and succeed independently in the world marred with prejudice and misogyny. A woman’s mental more than physical attributes necessary to accomplish anything in her life.
On chastity and morality, then so-called moral guardians in Indian society demanding Lord Ram’s consort Sita to demonstrate her purity by undergoing Agni pariksha (test) i.e. live immersion in burning flames did not satisfy them deposing the pregnant mother to exile. There were no questions raised on Lord Ram or his brother Lakshman in a society that only considers morality and fidelity are exclusive to women with men presumed innocent never having anything to do on violation of women’s honor and identity in any era.
As for the epic Mahabharata – Pandavas mother Kunthi and their spouse Draupati serve as the material to denigrate women they regard as loose characters by men in the film industry and politics who otherwise are in the forefront claiming thyself as the incarnate of one force – the almighty God in different manifestations emerging as the President or Prime Minister of many nations at a time to heart throb on silver screen simultaneously in Hollywood, Bollywood, Kollywood and any other wood that exist in India. Nonetheless, when it comes to evaluating a woman’s personal life and character, they are tied to each and every one as a separate individual with their twisted convoluted meaning and assertions in the explicit character assassination of a woman they regard as their prerogative in society.
Unless the society represented by men and women with selective criteria on morality transcend parochial judgmental dispositions to suit their convenience, women will be the target and more so for ethnic women confined to diverse discriminatory practice in the world exerting superiority and supremacy in class, creed and various category.
Best Wishes to all those women making a difference in every possible way to make this world acknowledge equality, the inalienable right of all beings in every respect not limited to gender alone in the world.
Author & Presenter