Vol. XLI No. 11 March 12, 2017

Thank You Women's Day

G Mamatha

THERE are a lot of people who need to be thanked for their wishes on the Women's Day. Indeed the list is quite long, but taking into consideration the constraints of time and space here are a few that should not be missed at any cost.

Let's start with the pradhan mantri, err, pradhan sewak. Not the one to shy away from showing his strength in using the 140-character handle, he 'twished' (this is a tweet+wish) saluting the 'indomitable spirit, determination & dedication of Nari Shakti on International Women's Day'. Indomitable spirit...yes, he should really thank us for that.

The women from Badjhiri, a small village near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, show what this indomitable spirit is. Badjhiri is the first 'cashless' village in Madhya Pradesh and that is one of the important reasons why the women want to thank him.

The women, as everywhere else, are so determined and dedicated to their work and their families that they not only worked with that indomitable spirit (forgive repeated usage of the term), but also saved from whatever little their earnings are. These savings were naturally in small boxes stored with great care to ensure that not even the man in the house got a suspicion. So not to tell, they do not have any bank accounts. What the pradhan sewak did on November 8, these women want to thank him on this March 8. With one single masterstroke he had eliminated all their hard earned savings. In some houses, where these savings were invariably brought to the notice of the men, they were subjected to brutal domestic violence too. All this, they had borne with exemplary grit...displaying 'nari shakti'. How else could we come to notice these qualities among them, but for the act of pradhan mantri. So, for bringing out these qualities of women to our notice through his great demonetisation act, thank you ji. You have made the women really cashless.

Badjhiri is not only a 'cashless' village. It is now a waterless village. Villagers do not have the money to dig deep borewells to pump water, so they are forced to buy water for 600 to 800 rupees per month. Some innovative villagers, who have borewells in their farms, are running water pipes, over trees and poles from their fields to their houses. The task of ensuring availability of water falls on the women and it is they who are walking long distances for carrying water. This being the situation now, imagine what will happen when the summer really sets in. Now the village is in  doldrums. They do not have cash to buy water. Without water they will not have cash, as they cannot get a good crop. For this with all indomitable spirit, they want to thank...you know whom!

Thank you ji for making us cashless, our villages waterless and hence our homes foodless. Happy Women's Day!

Next comes, our women and child development minister. She had stated: “When you are 16 or 17 you are also hormonally very challenged. So to protect you from your own hormonal outbursts, perhaps a lakshman rekha is drawn. It really is for your own safety”. She wants to solve the issue of safety, protection and gender equality by imposing time limits. Not to be misunderstood, a champion of gender equality herself, she said, both girls and boys should be imposed restrictions: “maybe the same deadlines should be there for both boys and girls...Why should the boys be allowed to wander about in the campus after 6 o’clock? Let them also stay in and do their work”. This is her concept of gender equality – impose restrictions, house arrest them – all for safety and protection.

Poor man, the one whose name she holds as her surname! Cry sir, cry. Is it not you who had stated that real independence is only when women can walk on the streets freely even at midnight? Times that have changed, sir. You are after all a man of the mid-twentieth century. We are now in the second decade of the twenty first century. Now is the time for us to stay home after six, segregate girls and boys. Hormones sir, hormones, who can help! Nothing wrong with the values you teach in the society – boys are strong, girls are weak; boys are for employment and jobs, girls are for household work, etc, etc...And of course girls are 'cheez' who are 'mast' to be enjoyed. Aren't they 'item girls' in 'item songs'. Items, things, commodities all are women! They can be bought, beat, used and thrown away. All because of our hormones. Nothing else, sir. Thanks madam minister, you have opened our eyes. Happy Women's Day.

And then let's go down south and meet the harbinger of change, the builder of all great things. He is none other than the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. One not to be left behind any photo-op or miss an opportunity to market himself, he too twished saluting the 'spirit of women, their strength, patience, courage & resilience'.

Indeed he should, because he leads a party which is 'dedicated to empower women'. An MLA from his party doesn't think twice about using choicest abuses on women. Not just anganwadi workers or ASHA workers who go to represent him their demands, but even a gazetted government officer is subject to his loose tongue. He enjoys the protection of the boss. A minister's son molests a woman. He is not to be touched, as he is protected by the boss. Another minister runs a huge education empire and girls are harassed on a regular basis and some even are forced to die. The minister is not to blame. The boss is behind him. Then there is another MLA and a famous film star, who says he likes to impregnate every woman who acts with him. No, not a fly upon him. He is close to the boss. And above all, the police of the state have no need to heed to any manuals or court orders. They can 'man' handle women. Male police can drag women...by whatever they can get hold of...hands, legs, hair or even sarees. Nothing can be done to them. All such deeds indeed please the boss. Organise a women's parliament, twish the women on Women's Day. Krishna will wash away all crimes! Thank you Naidu garu for reminding us what Women's Day is about, by beating the women mercilessly in Tunduru on the day itself. Happy Women's Day.

Not to be left out of this list is the Delhi police force. For all their professionalism in making the city safe for women. Remember December 16, how safe it was for Jyoti Singh, who was named Nirbhaya. If that is history, just follow the media. Every moving vehicle, every road in the national capital is safe for the men to molest and even rape women. Yes, the Delhi police indeed can protect you. Noticed the Ramjas protest incident? They can protect you from ABVP, by being the first to hit you. And being the police of the national capital they cannot lag behind their brethren from other states, so here too male police can drag, beat and grope women. Of course, they too do not forget to twish women. Thank you, police men. Happy Women's Day.

Uh...the list is too exhaustive. They are many morons on social media and regular media. They need to be thanked too. Sorry for not dealing with all of you individually.

Last but not the least. Those women in Tunduru, those girls of the DU and many others. All of you who believe that Women's Day is not about buying, but living. Living a life of dignity, equality and with respect. Thank you for showing that even after a century, the Day is still relevant – relevant for its lessons of struggle. A struggle till victory. Nothing in between. Thank you.