People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 11, 2007
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Conversing On 8th March
WAKE up sister! (Oh I am sorry you are already awake as usual) Today is a special day. Didn’t you listen to what one of the world’s powerful women, one of the most beautiful, one who is most intelligent telling us the most meekest (sic!) the other day? Never bother, as usual they said that we all would be empowered. Ah! are you asking when? That would take time you see. May be you may not see the day nor me, if they are allowed to do things as they are doing now, that day may not come at all. Oh! You are apprehensive of it that even at the time of your daughters, grand daughters, and grand grand daughters …yes, yes, if at all they are allowed to see the light of the day. They are neither safe in the womb nor outside. Haven’t we been told that every year more than 10 lakh children do not take birth just because they happen to be exactly like their mothers, mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law?
Alas our troubles begin from womb to grave! For every 1000 boys taking birth in our country only 927 girls are born to give us company.
You are talking about the mother? Yes it seems nine out of ten of our sisters giving birth are anaemic. Of course, that does not give them any respite. Labour is just like any other day of work and they have to immediately toil for their gruel –– till yesterday for two from now onwards for three.
Oh, You already know that “Women are half the world's people who do two-thirds of the world's work. They earn one tenth of the world's income and own one hundredth of the world's property.” Yes, it is true we are told to sacrifice all our fortunes for our darker sex and bear all the misfortunes. Gone are the days of Lakshmi, these are the days of Kubera.
See, sister, see those young girls going to school. Dirty they are but did you notice the proud smile on their faces? How fortunate they are! Didn’t we miss our childhood…I mean we had grown up even when we were just children…to learn our lessons in this material world. If only our parents had some means to feed us we too would have tasted the richness of school and education. You are right, who knows what will happen to these girls tomorrow? Their family might decide to move out to the city as there is nothing now in the village, even if they decide to stay, with the rising prices they might need an extra hand to earn –– just as you and I did. Even if they pass through all this because of their and their parent’s determination I don’t think they would go to the secondary level as that school is not here. Only 30 of every 100 girls are lucky in this regard you see. I think the mid-day meal scheme should be strengthened, hostels provided, women teachers appointed and more government schools started in our locality. But will they do it?
Have you heard that a girl in Orissa was forced to take two policemen along with her to the school daily? Look at her determination. Every girl should force the government to help her in her education because these days are not good. As if the fight for education is not enough, she has to fight against harassment for continuing her study. You know, that after high fees it is eve-teasing that is forcing out girls from study. Even in Delhi where the central government sits, it is not safe for us, then what can we say about these places. Sister, if Duryodhana asked his brother to bring Draupadi and make her sit on his lap, he was blamed. When Dushasana tried to remove Draupadi’s sari, he was blamed. Nobody said that it was Draupadi’s fault. But see today. If somebody harasses a girl, passes dirty comments on her, attacks her, and God forbid, rapes her, everybody criticises the girl. They say: “Something is wrong with her, she must have encouraged them” and all that dirty nonsense. This is like adding fuel to fire. Poor girl is already depressed from the attack and instead of supporting her they blame her. This society and its morals…hmm.
Sister anyway we do not get to discuss all these things everyday. Not that you do not know all this. I was very angry today on seeing people on TV celebrating somebody’s marriage. They are marrying at three places and spending crores of rupees. My husband was commenting that our children too should be married that way. See! We don’t have money to eat properly, educate our children but he wants us to have a marriage for our kids like that.
Sister is it necessary to spend so much on a marriage? On one hand we have people who spend money like water and on the other we spend even water like money. Forgetting this reality, some of us want to imitate them. I learnt that my neighbours were forced to give more than Rs 25,000 as dowry for the marriage of their child and for all these expenses they had to part with their little land. I don’t understand how they will live from tomorrow. Any way, why should the TV people show these kinds of marriages and the newspapers give them front page coverage? Will it help anybody? Did they ever give a fraction of this time and space to cover the issues facing our wretched lives?
Sister, before I leave I should not forget to tell you why I have come here. The people with Red flags who have come here last month and took us for the procession against price rise are coming again. They want us, all the women specially to come for another procession –– this time on our issues. I mean social issues. They want us to join in the struggle against all the injustices that we have faced and are talking about till now. Don’t you think that unless we start raising our voices nobody listens to us? I heard that whatever little we are enjoying today is because of the struggle our earlier generations fought for us. This day has more than 100 years of history it seems. This is the history of struggle and not of giving or exchanging cards. I want my daughter to be happy; she should live a happy life, not like ours. Don’t you too feel the same? We should do something to make it happy for them. I think this is the only way. Sister, I am confident that you too would agree.
If my daughter asks, “Ma what have you done for me?” I would proudly say “I took part in the struggle for our rights like my grandmother did. It might be just one step but we have made it one step less for you my child.”