On the 15th of August 2017, we celebrate our 70th Independence Day. 70 years ago, Pandit Nehru’s words, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…” resounded in every home across India. But, are we really living a life that echoes this freedom?
Especially, when it comes to Indian women, are they truly free? Can they make their own choices, take their own decisions and live their lives the way they wish to? Is she free from criticisms? Is there an unconditional acceptance for her? Does her external appearance is still a parameter to judge her character? If you think about it carefully, you will realize why the answer to this is negative. We may be an independent country, but we still have miles to go before we can say that Indian women are truly Independent.
Why is it important for women to be Independent?
Being balanced is an independence: One of the definitions of independence is the ability to live your life without being influenced by other people. It means your thoughts, emotions and decisions should be coming from within you.
Take charge of your life: Personal independence is not just about financial independence. Being financially independent can definitely improve the quality of life, but apart from that living up to your caliber can provide the identity. Your small or big contribution at a workplace is bringing the dignity. Though India may have a skewed sex ratio, women still make up for a large segment of the population. When an average Indian woman is not financially independent, she is considered to be dependent on the working males in her family. And that is when she loses her power to make choices and take decisions for her own actions. Education is the key to make rational decisions. Take charge of education, work, the money you earn but also give attention to emotional and mental well-being.
Take for instance the story of Shirin as played by Konkona Sen Sharma in the movie “Lipstick Under My Burkha”, who moonlights as a saleswoman. Her role as a wife is restricted to living by her husband’s dictates and being a mother to her three children. However, if she were encouraged to be more independent, the family could have lived a more comfortable life. She too would have been a much happier woman if she had control over her own life.
Happiness or life satisfaction?
When we encourage women to be more independent, we also nurture their talents. Take for example the story of young Rehana, again from the movie “Lipstick Under My Burkha”, while her parents only want her to work in the family tailoring shop, she dreams of pursuing music and living a more cosmopolitan life. However, her restrictions make her shoplift and take a more deviant path. As families, if we could give our daughters the independence to pursue their own interests, we might not only discover endless hidden talent in them, but it would also curb anti-social behaviors. In short, few things can lead to short term happiness but life satisfaction is based on how well you are at balancing all significant areas of your life.
What can you do to make women Independent?
Challenge the biased behaviors: Discrimination against a girl child begins very early in life. From the time she is a fetus, illegal sex determination tests are carried out for selective abortion. When she is a little girl; she is given less to eat as compared to her brothers and is kept at home and taught household chores rather than being sent to school. This is one of the main reasons why Indian women grow up to be dependent on others. Thus, the first step towards making them independent is to educate them.
Accept yourself conditionally: You may not be perfect all the time, you may have the past and might have repented on your decisions several times but now here life gives you an opportunity to regain the control. Redesign the life by changing the perceptions and taking rational decisions. Tell yourself that you are a priority for yourself. Remember you can not serve from an empty vessel.
Guilt free gifts: You deserve all the attention and appreciation, do not wait for someone else to notice your hard work. You can reward yourself for each small achievement. You know the significance of small things thus you pay attention to yourself. Avoiding our own needs, neglecting your own needs and sacrifices does not make you the best mother, wife or person etc. Understand that marriage is only a part of their lives and the goal for a woman is not just to raise a family. Have a guilt free time and reward for yourselves. Be a source of happiness for own self.
Moneywise be wise: Women are defamed for doing extra expenses, we may sometimes buy on emotional reasoning and land up spending disproportionately. Your hard earn money should give you long term security and also should contribute to improving your quality of life. Invest carefully, plan for your future & be wise.
Holistic health: Holistic health considers physical and psychological well-being. You do housekeeping for physical fitness and it is important to be conscious about your shape and size. You may avoid health complication by being physically active but looking at our daily stressful lifestyle our 'psychological housekeeping' also is important. 'Emotional hygiene' is also equally important, as it will allow you to enjoy the freedom you achieve with hard work.
Thus this Independence Day, let us make a promise to ourselves to do whatever we can to make every Indian woman around us independent in every aspect of her life. Remember, it is only when each man and woman is independent that a country can be truly independent.