I generally have a distaste to the celebration of days, be it Valentine’s day, Father’s Day or Women’s day. Don’t get me wrong. I respect all three things – love, fathers and women. My point is, if we are specifying 1 out of the 365 days to celebrate something so important and vital to life, what are we implying for the rest of the 364 days? Although, if it is just one excuse to get conversations started and have more buzz around the said emotion, relationship or gender, then why limit it to once a year and not have it more frequently?
All these random ramblings of my mind notwithstanding, Women’s Day remains an occasion which Elementum Money cannot ignore. So, as I tried to think of how or what I can do in my own small way towards the movement, I thought back to what I have already done. When the time, energy and enthusiasm that I devoted to my blog were at their peak, for Women’s Day 2018, I did a wonderful 3-post roundup series with 6 fantastic female Personal Finance bloggers. Last year, I took the occasion as a trigger to pen down my views on Feminism. And this time, I realised there are some things which get my goat when it comes to women which require either larger action and correction or even a subtle change of mindset amongst us women folk, too. So, here goes my wish list for Women’s Day 2020.
1. No sexist depictions in pop culture
How many times have you walked out of a cinema theatre, eyes shining and totally inspired by the woman depicted on screen? Granted, today Bollywood is evolving to make some movies where women are portrayed as equals. However, when we still have movies which glorify stalking, sacrifice and body objectification, women will only be seen as pretty figures to either possess or use. I have now lost count of the number of Punjabi songs where I love the music but just can’t get around to the lyrics. Most of them will be about a woman asking her significant other either to take her shopping or on a car ride or about her butt or even her insecurities of his social circle. So yes, I wish pop culture would stop with their pitiable, pretty face depictions of women.
2. A feeling of safety and security around ALL men
This is a big one. Growing up in Delhi, I have mostly been taught to ignore the lecherous stares that become a part and parcel of life in that city for most women. However, most men would not understand the fear with which we operate especially if it’s a lonely road on a dark night. In fact, it is difficult to describe in words the discomfort or the squirming feeling which results from seeing those predatory glances. Hell, so many girls and women are not safe at their own homes with the constant threat of abuse and violence. If you need more convincing, check out this beautifully made, hard-hitting short film on the subject. In case you missed the statistics at the end, on an average one rape is reported in India every 22 minutes. Add to it the unreported crimes of be it rape, harassment, abuse or violence and the number is bound to climb up astronomically. Since it is a wishlist, I wish for a world where girls and women of all ages can feel safe and secure around all men (and women who aid or abet some men, especially in instances of domestic harassment and violence)
3. Equal treatment to sons and daughters (as well as daughters-in-law)
Considering my parents have two girls and have always been encouraging, even pushing us to do well academically, blessedly we have never felt this kind of a differentiation. But, within my extended family, I have seen instances where the daughter’s education is stopped much sooner and of course marriage also happens far earlier. For women, the idea of working after marriage also is still frowned upon in enough parts of our country (so much so that some families are happy to put it as a condition even in their matrimonial ads). Even when women are working, the expectation is always for her to still be the one responsible for smooth functioning of the household. I have heard of instances, where an evolved man might be trying to help, only to be stopped by his mother (Confession: I have been truly lucky in this regard as well). Then, the big one – inheritance. Most Indian families still believe males are the only legitimate heir to their life’s fortune. Be it education, work, household management or inheritance, I wish opportunities and expectations were equal for both the genders within our families.
4. Taking charge of money, atleast in their households
You didn’t think I would talk about women and not mention my main grouse – yes, our aversion from thinking about or understanding the basics of money and Personal Finance. I been part of way too many client meetings now, where the man is evidently making all the money decisions. I have now witnesses women leaving the discussion, once we start talking investments. In my current avatar, I am unable to devote more time to educating women, but someday Elementum Money will do it’s bit on this glaring gap in our society. I wish more women would understand the importance of being an equal partner in the financial decision making process of the household. It is not just a responsibility, but also a big form of empowerment. If you are in the dark, you don’t even know if you are being financially cheated on. So, atleast the female readers of this post, pledge to become more aware and involved in money management, starting with your own household. Talk about it, initiate conversations and encourage more of your friends to build on this movement.
5. Think and act more for themselves
For most women, especially after marriage and kids, life is all about doing things for others. True, time becomes a whirlwind concept where it feels like there are just not sufficient enough minutes in the day to get it all done. But, somewhere, I think most of us forget to live for ourselves. I wish more women would understand that our primary responsibility is to ourselves, be it to do things we like or spend some bit of our time the way we want to. This of course can happen only when we decide to slow down, be more aware of ourselves and even try to retain an identity of our own as an individual. As far as return on investment goes, only when you are mentally healthy and happy, can you go about taking care of your responsibilities in a proper manner too.
This list is far from exhaustive, choosing to not talk about so many more raging issues, especially on the work front – be it equal pay, housework balance or the inevitable glass ceiling. Be it those or the ones mentioned above, I know for a fact that green shoots and some nascent beginnings have been made. However, we still have a long way to go and much more progress to be made before we get to anywhere near an equitable world.
Till then, let’s use Women’s Day and hopefully more such occasions to keep the conversation going and commit to making such changes one step at a time.
Have you ever thought of gender equality? Is there anything on your wish list which you wish for a more balanced world? Let me know in the comments below.