Newspapers are going gaga over today. TODAY! 8th of March - International Women's day. There is an editorial by Hillary Clinton, where she talks of the sterling work done by women's groups in China, where she went as the First Lady and now as Secretary of State. She talks of collaborating with her counterparts across the world to raise awareness about women's issues, blah blah blah. There are articles by Shobhaa De, Tanuja Chandra and everyone else who has had at least 15 seconds of fame. So 'achiever women' from the corporate sector were profiled and asked key questions, and the rest of the womenfolk in India are supposed to feel proud of such achievements.
Kudos to all those who have made it there. But as a woman, do I really think that women have actually reached a stage where they can achieve their full potential? Well, the very fact that women need a day to celebrate as their own, shows the extent to which they have been repressed so far. Stark? Yes, very much. Everyone knows about the atrocities against women and girl children that are rampant in rural India even today. Its also mentioned all over the papers today. The proverbial glass ceiling has been proclaimed to have been shattered. But is that really so? Is a woman still being treated equally at the workplace? Is the woman truly liberated? Just knowing problems exist and doing nothing about the malady is not women's lib. Yeah, everyone talks of the woman who successfully juggles life, career, home, finances, and emerges a winner. But such people are preciously few. And they are here, because of a rocking support system! Take Indian 'achiever women'. More often than not, their parents or in-laws are OK with raising a couple more children - those of their own kids, while the achiever women go and take over companies, float investment schemes, market a brilliant product and so on. Seldom ever does anyone talk of how those kids grow. Indian work culture is such that in case women need to be considered on par with men on the ladder that leads to the top, they still need to prove that they can do all that the guy can and more. So, if a bachelor guy, with 0 encumbrances prefers to stick around at work for unholy hours just to please the boss, many a time, a woman aspiring for the next top post is implicitly expected to do the same. If she doesn't, BAM! there goes the promotion. Its like, a woman needs to fight her way to the top every inch of the way. In case she tries to raise her voice and say that she is not too happy with the corporate set up that does not allow her to balance work and life, she is implicitly asked to choose between family and work, since no one asked her to come and compete in the first place. She then sits down and wonders why she slogged it out in undergrad, and beat everyone to the top rank, why she slogged her way through B School, and landed a plum job, only to have to let it all go, when the family beckoned. She then says - 'Its always a trade off and a compromise - you win some, you lose some'. The very fact that some women with stars in their eyes and brilliant ambitions, along with the caliber to achieve these goals is forced to take a back seat and compromise on her ambitions, because work culture and working conditions are not conducive enough, shows that at least in India, women's liberation has a loooooooooooooooong way to go.