We all descend from clusters of ancestors. We all carry their preachings, values and ethics to live life further. We all consider ourselves to be part of a society and that we are diverse. In a way, we all are branches of trees. We might have a single person as our ancestor, but we thrive life in different manners. Roots are what defines you. They are linked to the knowledge that your ancestors collected aeons ago. A person belonging to the west of the world, may differ in every aspect from you, who has grown in the east side of the world. However, there might be some beliefs which will entwine you together. For long, humans were broadly classified as being women or men. And based on this the norms and way of living extended. Women had a long journey, to bring themselves to the forefront. Ancient times did not give all women what it gave to men. There were societies who limited them to homes. But that was not the case with all. There were exceptions, and these paved the way for women to know themselves more. Ancient Egypt allowed the women to hold property and be equal to men. However, the ultimate triumph was always for patriarchy. Contrast to this system, Ancient Greece believed in few rights for the women. They were not allowed to inherit property or vote.
When we talk about roots, they bring to us traditions and moral conduct of living. You follow what might have been followed for decades by your ancestors. But with time, all that we had from our ancestors are taking turns. We cannot certainly tell that the ancestral preaching were the reasons for what is the current status of women. We cannot declare that traditions made in the past hindered women from learning. There are instances where we have flipped the right tradition into the wrong direction. Our assumptions about the traditions has led us to think of a stoic picture of women. While what was told for the women to be a protection, has now turned into hurdles for them. The past of protecting is now a means of hindrance for her. And we can only blame the perception we have. It might be surprising to you, but not all traditions were meant to circumcise a women’s role. Not all societies wanted their women not to step out. Take the earlier example of Egypt, it allowed the women to feel the necessary equality. Similarly, Armenia had given its women the same rights as men. In India, we have several examples from the past, where women were allowed to get education. There were also times when this particular individuals of the nation ruled states. Take the example of Rani Lakshmi Bai, she ruled Jhansi and led troops to fight against the colonisers. The most prominent example in terms of women in the past, was Queen Elizabeth I. She flourished her culture, literature and led the country, even after being surrounded by a patriarchal mindset. She lived in a time where progress for women was still premivial. But it was the power she had and the determination which made her standout.
The core problem does not suffice in traditions or roots. The default is in the way we perceive them. Early norms might have formed as a sense of protection. But we have changed them to means of discriminating, and this has given birth to another term ‘gender inequality’. Gender inequality is differentiating opportunities for the people, solely based on gender biasness. This is a social process and can range from discrimnation regarding biological aspects, psychology and cultural norms. What we want to tell is that not every cultural norm can be used as a weapon to stop women. When we talk about workplaces, it is natural for men to get more wages than women. Why is this so? No constitution, or ancestral preaching allows it. Every individual who works must get an equal pay. Similarly, education was never meant for the boys or the men only. If you consider our history, women were a part of composing hymns for Rigveda. In the Vedic period, Maitreyi and Gargi, were the women scholars. Mughals allowed the women to get education even though there was a Purdah system prevalent during those times. We have bent the norms as per our evaluation and associations with them. The atrocious Sati system was not what it was presented to us. The original scriptures, named the widows as Satis, and asked them to be chaste even after their spouse was no more. It never asked for the women to burn themselves with the death of their husbands. However, it is the mindset of the people and want for control, responsible for what has happened for years, in the name of Sati. It is due to our perception of the women, which restricted them to vote. Women were not allowed to vote because we thought that they were physically and mentally inferior to us. But, is that what is very necessary for voting? Do you require wise citizens or physically fit people?
Gender inequality and its cause dwells through perceptions. Perceiving traditions, norms, and inclining your thoughts with them. Again, traditions refer to those who were meant as channels of protection and security. Traditions also need to evolve, but we also need to be evolved too. We cannot blame our roots for the entire process of what is happening today. No one of us was taught to look down upon women. Or to keep them behind the doors. Or to obstruct them from knowing the world, in the name of protecting them. Or to cleave their dreams or tell them what to do. For a moment, if you consider yourself to be an individual, you will know that you are unique but still a part of your root. They never told you to bloom in similar ways, rather you have grown with your uniqueness. It is us who need to bring changes in thought. Before seeing a woman, you need to see them as individuals. Calling them to be the vulnerable strata who need to be protected, is not the way. You cannot call obstruction synonymous to protection. Protecting is essential when you decide to look out for each other. Unfortunately, we have jumbled its meaning and stopped women, thinking that they are less efficient to tackle problems.
Today, we are living in a place, where there is a quest between allowing women and protecting them. For that, you do not need to lock them up, or tell them which job suits them or hinder them in the name of security. Our roots never did that, they let us grow at our pace and with ambivalent abilities. What we need to look out for is that we educate people. We educate them about how roots must be taken forward. About how we allow each other to grow and protect too. All the nations must make the effort to make the laws stringent so as to ensure that no one is harmed. At present, what we need to work is on how we provide women a safer environment to work rather than stopping them. Our Constitution gives equal opportunities, rights and duties to all. And as a part of our nation, women must not be pushed behind. It is very important for the people to realise that no one was born perfect. And that if one is different from the other, we cannot tell them to take the back seat. All these have evidence rooted with our history. We know what role the women played in our independence. From marching on streets, forming their news agencies and forming committees, they never left any stone unturned to bring what the nation had always desired for.
If we change, we might see again what we have as our milestones. The nation will yet again know another Sarojini Naidu, Savitrabai Phule, Indira Gandhi, Vijaya Laksmi Pandit, Shakuntala, Kalpana Chawla, P.T.Usha and many who have left an imprint for the women’s generation to continue. In a nutshell, it’s we who must change, for roots never hindered even when we turned from red to purple or joy to sorrow. In the words of China Murthy,
“ To Live
Let others live peacefully
Follow the tradition
Without disturbing the surrounding”
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