“You are our responsibility.”
“We control your life to protect you.”
“Marriage is the sole purpose of your life.”
“We define your freedom.”
…and the list is never-ending.
Most of the women in India, though my belief is 100% of them, encounter these stereotypes regularly. As a kid, I was always curious, why parents did not want a girl child? In a country where we worship Goddesses, how could not you love their real-life avatars? I was enlightened gradually.
Since the birth of a girl child, the family’s sole responsibility is to protect her till the time she is hurriedly “handed over” to another family. Does not she seem like the debts we want to get rid of as soon as possible? Asking the right questions, we get beautiful responses, “ No, our society has progressed a lot, we are providing equal education, job opportunities to girls. But we do need to protect them”. But she does not get what she needs the most; freedom and control over her life. She can’t wear what she wants, go out alone, make crucial life decisions. If not family the society forbids her from being what she wants to be. It is a big responsibility, and of course the society doesn’t want to handle it.
Is it all gloomy and bleak? No, there is some light outside the long dark tunnel in the form of women who broke free! Beautiful ladies from different corners of India shattered the established norms, chose paths they desired, and fought all stereotypes. Would it have been an easy journey? No, but their commendable willpower has transformed them into inspirational icons for all of us.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, let’s meet five Indian superwomen who have carved their lives based on their dreams!
Avani Chaturvedi – In the limitless sky
इक उड़ान कब तलक यूँ कैद रहेगी
रोको ना छोड़ दो इसे..अमिताभ भट्टाचार्य
Defense services have long been considered as a formidable area for women. “Women are not strong enough to fight battles.”, a summary of the numerous tantrums that prevent their entry into defense services. As the first Indian woman to fly a fighter jet & among the first three women fighter pilots of the country, Avani Chaturvedi has broken these myths. An ardent believer of “Never give up”, she chased her dreams to the ends of the sky.
Mehrun-Nisha Shaukat Ali – The female bouncer
There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.W.E.B Dubois
Strength, Courage, Power – Common words describing masculinity and men.
Gentleness, Modesty, Emotional – Common words describing femininity and women.
This is a beautiful example of established societal norms for women’s characteristics. What if they do not abide by these categorizations? Mehrun-Nisha Shaukat Ali, the female bouncer at Hauz Khas Social, Delhi, is smashing these stereotypes with her determination. As a kid in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, she dreamt of joining the police but faced resistance even in continuing her education. Fate brought her to Delhi and, she decided to become a female bouncer. Fighting against family resistances and her career choice, her journey strengthens our willpower to fight against all odds.
Rajani Pandit – The female James Bond
The question is not who is going to let me; it is who is going to stop me.Ayn Rand
The word detective portrays images of James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Bomkesh Bakshi. We have a new Indian Superwoman added to the list, Rajani Pandit. She is believed to be the first woman investigator in Maharashtra & India. The cute little girl from Mumbai, who loved reading spy & mystery novels, transitioned to a leading female detective of the country. A career that started with saving her classmate from wrong forces by providing her family timely heads up, helping her colleague while working as an office clerk, she has handled more than 80,000 cases with her team so far.
Neetu Sarkar – Wrestling against all odds
Where there is a woman, there is magic.Ntozake Shange
Neetu Sarkar is indeed a magical woman. She wanted to wrestle, but was sold off by her family at the age of 13 years to a 43-year-old man, she escaped. She was married again & became a mother of two sons at the age of 14. Financial crisis forced her to take up numerous jobs, but she returned to her first love – wrestling. Tiring efforts, fighting all odds, managing family, Neetu became a world-class champion wrestler and represented India in the World Junior Wrestling Championships in Brazil in 2017.
Nidhi Goyal – Superwoman for Women with disabilities
The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.Walter Bagehot
Women with disabilities often have to face extreme discrimination, biases & even violence. With not much focus being laid on the difficulties faces by these women, a superwoman is all set to change their lives. Nidhi Goyal, a disability and gender rights activist advocates issues related to the health and rights of girls and women with disabilities. As a 15-year-old girl, who lost her right eyesight due to an eye disorder, she discovered the difficulties faced by these women. Her efforts gave birth to Rising Fame, a Mumbai-based NGO, and she was appointed as the UN Women Executive Director’s advisory group. A little surprise, this talented woman is also a stand-up comedian who talks about the stigma attached with disability.
The story of these women inspires us to break the societal chains & be what we want to be. To all the women reading this blog, never let anyone define your freedom and chase your dreams come what may.