It’s the 103rd Women’s Day and probably I should start by wishing all the women out there a very Happy Women’s Day and be proud to be a woman. But why do I feel like we are still a long way from celebrating Happy Women’s Day?
The theme for this year is “Inspiring Change”. Wow sounds really effective! It’s about women’s advancement everywhere. But it seems to me people forgot about the basic place from where change should start-Home!! When I was filling out Aadhar enrolment form, there is a column in the form saying Head of the family. I told my husband I want to write my name in that column. He immediately said “You can’t do that”. I was furious; I said “why can’t I? I’m earning for the family as well, raising kids and involved in all the decisions made in this home so why can’t I be the Head of the family.” He simply said “because society is designed that way, man is the Head of the family that’s it.” There is no other reason!
Patriarchy- the most deep rooted system in the society for centuries nobody dares to question it. Man rules – woman obeys. If I say that Woman is the head of family, people including women look at me weird like I’m insane. Woman- she is the centre of your universe. She’s in every step of your life as a mother, sister, friend, lover, wife and daughter – everything.
You are what you are because of the women in your life. Our Upanishads first say Mathru Devo Bhava, then Pithru Devo Bhava. The first language you learn is called mother tongue. People always use the phrase ladies first. Women come first always, when you talk about them, but when someone asks you tell about your family, you start with your father, mother comes later.
All the application forms we fill out first ask for your father/husband’s name then the details of mother and I don’t remember seeing wife’s detail anywhere. So, all the above phrases are just expressions. They don’t really mean anything to people. When woman stays at home taking care of house-hold duties (I don’t want to use the term house wife) she is a home maker; the name says it all. She makes a house a home. She maintains the house in one piece, raises kids, cooks for the family and do everything required.
In case of a working woman apart from doing justice to her profession and excelling in her career she’s expected to do all the household duties like cooking, raising the kids and organising the home in addition to earning for the family. So basically whether she is a working woman or a home maker, woman does everything for her home. She shapes up the family, raises the future citizen. She’s a cook, a mentor, a guide, a tutor, a friend, a nurse, a referee and what not? But still she cannot be head of the family. Why????
Some of the women say we have enough problems to deal with as it is, we are happy where we are and we don’t need the role of head of the family. We don’t need any more additional responsibilities. But the point is only the title is new, the role is not new. You are already playing the role of head without even thinking about it. You work for your family, decide what is right for them, manage the financial matters at your home, organise the home, teach your kids what’s right and what’s not, you make sure everything is perfect.
You play a much larger role than the so called head of the family- the man of the house. So don’t worry about taking up the title. You won’t have any additional burdens by that. Still if a woman doesn’t want to play the lead role fine – let her be the follower. But don’t force her to be a follower when she wants to be the leading lady.
Why should woman be the head of the family? I can give you ‘n’ number of reasons. A woman has lot of patience; she’s honest, organised, disciplined, strict, constructive and an endless source of love. You can see it in your profession when woman leads a team they are much organised, disciplined and achieve better results. The same holds true for the families as well. Families with women as head prosper much better than the others economically, socially and morally. More important there will be peace and harmony. You can take example of courageous women like Aung san suki, Wangari Maathayi, Malala Yousafzai (a woman in making) who fought for human rights against all odds and succeeded. 15 women had won Nobel peace prize till date. There are 25 female rulers all over the world. Yahoo is lead by a woman CEO Marissa Meyer. One of the largest private banks ICICI has a woman as CEO Chanda Kochar and Chitra Ramakrishna is the MD of NSE.
When women can be trusted with such huge responsibilities that decide the fates of thousands of people, why don’t we trust the woman at our home to be the head of the family? There is a saying in our Vedas Yatra Naryastu Pujyante, Ramante Tatra Devata – Women Are Honoured Where, Divinity Blossoms There.
There’s a lot of discrimination against women in our country. We see female foeticides, Eve teasing; trafficking, bride burning, domestic violence, molestation and the statistics go up every year. What is the root cause for this? Because woman doesn’t get the respect, she deserves for the role she’s playing in the society. Recognize woman for the role she plays in our life, for her contributions to the society. All she needs is respect and a little love. You might ask me how making Woman as head of the family changes anything, I will explain. A little boy grows up looking at his family- mom does all the cooking, cleaning, takes care of family everything and dad does help too often. But who is the final decision maker- Dad. That imprints on his growing brain that even though Mom does everything she’s second to Dad. So he grows up thinking women are useful but not important. The respect factor for women slowly comes down.
No doubt the love remains but it is fixed in his mind that women are second to men. Now if you change that and make mom the head of the family, he grows up loving her and respecting her at the same time. May be its too much to expect for matriarchy, but you can’t call me overly optimistic, if I hope for equality. Why don’t people start telling their Mother’s name first when asked for family details for a change?
As it is a patriarchal society anyway father already has the importance and mother will start getting her well-deserved recognition. Make woman the leading lady in your home you can then hope for a better society and a better world to live in. Happy Women’s Day to all the women!
Now, I would like to say something to men. You won’t become cheap in the eyes of women or other men if you wish a woman on Women’s day. Instead you’ll gain great respect from the woman and set an example for other men. Please think about it.
By Raghuma Mandali
Image: Happy Women’s Day