The remarkable triumphant win of Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalitha at the recent State Elections in Kolkata and Tamilnadu respectively, reminds me of the song – Miss Independent - sung by my favourite hip-hop singer Ne-Yo. Women indeed are celebrating “Being Independent”...going all out without any inhibitions or setting any conditions to explore the unexpected.
Undeniably, we are living in a patriarchal society. Be it an organisation, system, government, institution, or filmdom, the decision makers are indeed the menfolk. Well, the very fact that the Chief Ministers office in Kolkata didn’t have a ladies toilet for 34 long years is proof to this testimony. So, isn’t it a goosebumps moment to see our womenfolk make it to the helm under the influence of their own intelligence, capability and mass appeal...and not mere quotas or sifarish.
Recently the Maharashtra Assembly unanimously approved 50% quota for women in local bodies and also promised reservation for women in elections to panchayat samitis, zilla parishads, municipal councils and municipal corporations in the State. My question is, do women really need a quota in the first place? And, is it right to empower women through quotas?
I have never supported quotas for women and even more in this age looking at the way our Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dixit, Sushma Swaraj, Mamata Banerjee (Didi), Jayalalita (Amma) to name a few, have grabbed the top positions lock-stock-and-barrel based on merit and mass appeal. And then with Indra Nooyi (Indian born American) who is a topping on the cake with her role as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Incorporation...what else could any woman ask for. And yah, mind you, these are no exceptions or accidents. They in fact, represent real grounded women who can turn things around with sheer will power and focus towards the betterment of society and markets.
But this is certainly debatable. When I thrashed the very need of quotas for women in politics, many beg to differ saying that women indeed need quotas because there are many a Pushpa’s, Ramkali’s, Anandi’s living in interior villages who lead miserable lives oblivious to these ladies. But then, why should we have incompetent women onboard to handle tough jobs that she is not capable of...just because she is a woman. She would eventually not only lose her job because of underperformance but would undermine the ability of other capable women in society and in the neighbourhood.
Undeniably, women have different social needs than men and it is this area that our systems and institutions need to cater to a little differently. A woman serving in the army can be trained to fight for the nation with the same intensity and passion...but her physiological needs and care is different for which, additional privileges need to be provided to her. In the same breath, if we say that women are physically weak and that makes her incompetent to be a combat soldier, we need to justify why women have not made it to the top in corporations and institutions in which mental strength and aptitude is all that is required. Why that disparity then?
Is it the fear that women need to be committed to a family, need to take care of kids and is someone who will go on maternity leave and paralyse business if given top responsibilities. But aren’t these a passing phase? Shouldn’t we support women at such times by providing her with flexible working hours? Why stereotype women as a homemaker 24x7, 365 days a year huh! Surely this mindset needs to be changed.
Ultimately, it is not a question of man or woman. It is a question of merit. In the end, gender should not be looked at how good a person is and what she /he can do.
We need to equip our girls with the sharp sword of education by making it easier and fees-free for her to enrol. Nevertheless, even women who have missed out on the opportunity to study as kids can be trained on the job to become independent. We need to stop keeping our girls ignorant, insecure, hungry, and being treated as an unwanted child at birth. This surely will make a big difference!
And yah...why should boys have all the fun huh!
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