“We have to shape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.” Beyonce
Women are key to economic growth and studies show that if women play an identical role in labour markets as that of men, as much as US $28 trillion could be added to global annual GDP by 2025. Countries and communities that offer better socioeconomic opportunities for women not only have a better, faster and equitable growth, but they also see a massive reduction in poverty with better environmental sustainability. Studies have shown that the participation of women in the economy has far reaching affects as they devote more of the household budget to education, health, and nutrition than men. A child born to a mother who can read is 50 % more likely to survive and every year of education beyond grade four that a woman receives, reduces the risks of her child dying by 10%. Whether in bustling cities or rural villages, women’s income contributes to families, communities and societies.
Unfortunately, the disparity of women unlike many other global issues is not isolated to developing countries. In horror stories from around the world, women are being wounded and mutilated for men think that to break a woman’s spirit, they have to scar her external beauty. It only shows how shallow they are! It is assumed that a disfigured woman will stay indoors. And added to these are the shocking cases of abuse and unnatural deaths. As long as men consider women as their possessions, their property, there can be no light at the end of this dark tunnel. Even in this day and age, a woman is identified by the various roles she plays – that of a daughter, a wife and a mother. She is not seen as an individual, independent of all these roles. Will this world ever get closer to emancipating women or will we continue to be remorseful about the less fortunate, get momentarily indignant about the atrocities and let it fade away into oblivion until another incident jogs us out of our slumber? If the society continues to be patriarchal, there is very little hope for gender parity or equality. But women have stood up and fought against all odds and have won. They have more resilience than they give themselves due.
Every year March 8th is celebrated as International Women’s Day and every year the slogan chosen calls for gender equality and parity. But even today, we continue to live in a world where daughters are not valued as much as the sons are or encouraged to a make the same meaningful contributions to the world. Equal rights for women is still a debatable subject. It seems like this world is in need of constant reminders for women have been fighting for their rights to better wages and better working conditions since 1909 and the fight is still on. So, is it then wrong to assume that parity is still a steep climb ahead?
For more than 100 years, women around the world have been working hard to attain gender equality, but even today women continue to earn less and have fewer assets. Seventy-five per cent of women’s employment in developing regions is informal and unprotected and they spend more than twice as much time on unpaid care and domestic work than men. And the sad reality is that many men land up in jobs because they are not ‘women’ So, in 2021, let us choose to challenge – choose to challenge stereotypes and mediocrity, choose to challenge fears and apprehensions and finally choose to challenge ideas and ideologies that are impediments to our growth as a community.
This year the Saree Enthusiasts of Sydney observed the day with a celebration of themselves and everything they hold dear. On 7th March,120 ladies got together at Madison Function Centre, looking beautiful and resplendent in their beautiful sarees. Jodi McKay, the leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of NSW attended the function and as always, her address was meaningful and inspirational.
The tables were named after words that define womanhood and the International Woman’s days of the past. These were, challenge, transform, change, progressive, choice, determined, strength, courage, perseverance, smart, empower, innovative, resilience, authentic and beautiful. Each of the 15 ladies who participated in the fashion show, chose one of these words and after showcasing their beautiful sarees, proceeded to tell the audience what their chosen word meant to them as a woman.
The ladies took home with them a piece of inspiration in the form of a fridge magnet. It was great to see women support and encourage each other. A special shout out to all the men who stood on the sidelines supporting their women and ensuring that the event was a successful one.
#choosetochallenge #choosetobedifferent #choosetostandup