International Women’s Day, March 8

AWARD: Suhasini Prabhugoankar, former chief reporter of Gomantak, being bestowed the journalist award by former Congress Minister and MLA Nirmala Sawant (second from left) followed by Dr Vidhya Gaude (first left) and Deepali Naik (right) Director of Women & Child Development

INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day is here once again and I cannot help but share some thoughts. For some women it may be women’s day every day but for most women it is not. For most women it is men’s day every day! Read the story and history of women’s fight the world over to be on par with men with reference to liberty, equality, fraternity….it’s a history of stories of anger, frustration, depression, determination, sacrifice and much more just so that today women may say they have come a long way to earn sweet liberty, equality, fraternity. And then again just see what’s happened to the women of Afghanistan in recent history?
International Women’s Day is celebrated every March 8 but this year the Goa State Commission for Women decided to have a Parliament for Women on March 2, 2022. It was not a quite a parliament but the hall was half full with women seeking to “stand up, speak out and act to prevent violence against women.” As usual at these women’s celebrations there’re more women listening to each other than men listening to women –and naturally there is no International Men’s Day, or is there? If there is one it must be a totally superfluous one!
Most women will agree that the average woman’s lot in life in India and in many other countries is still loaded with inequities. As for those “liberated women” to may go out to work to be financially independent – the standard advice by her parents, in-laws, society at large is: First take care of your husband, children, home and then step out into the world which continues to be largely male-oriented and patriarchal. Most women still take their cues from the men in their family be it father, husband, sons, brothers, uncles, etc.
Speaking to media people at on the eve of IWD Dr Vidhya Gaude said that 70% of the cases which come to them are to do with domestic violence. It’s so easy to bully and beat up a woman if she is not the perfect slave obeying orders. Reportedly, violence and both physical and verbal torture has increased in homes despite more women being educated and able to live a life on their own. Interestingly, contributing to troubled relationships in many homes is the obsession with the mobile phone, women have discovered it with vengeance and to the detriment of peace and harmony between family members!
SPEAKING at the Women’s Day function Director of Women and Child Development Deepali Naik cautioned women about being over-liberated or so to speak. Women, she rued, tend to be far more obsessed with fashion trends and television dramas than paying attention to the running of the home. There must be a limit to these trivial pass time activities and parents should guide their daughters properly about what is right or wrong, home care must come first as this will strengthen their relationship within their marital family. Her message was that women should utilize their time more productively.
Deepali Naik also added that women are important members in a family and they should be consulted instead of being ignored when decisions are taken in the family by elders and the men, especially on vital issues like that of marriage, “There is no difference between a boy and a girl. If a mother decides, then no one can stop daughters from making good choices. If at home a mother is understands and give her daughter freedom to grow wings, then it’s an opportunity to touch the sky and be happier.” Most fathers tend to listen to their wives in the matter of the children’s future. Parents must work in unison and if the mother is financially strong it is so much for the better, women’s earnings should be respected as well as her opinions in family matters.

GOA STATE COMMISSION FOR WOMEN…….parliament day for women! Former Power Minister and Cumberjua MLA Nirmala Sawant recounting stories of her upbringing and bringing smiles on many lips in the audience. Others on the dais on the occasion include Dr VidhyaGaude, Deepali Naik, Aruna Sanadi, KetakiGadekar, Jayashree Pawar and others. That is motivatiional speaker Poonam Sirsat receiving a token of appreciation; and a glimpse of the audience who enjoyed the day long event dedicated to women’s empowerment and to encourage them to stand up, speak out and act to prevent violence against women.

ONE of the few women who commands much respect in Goan politics is former power minister, Nirmala Sawant, and as chief guest she endorsed that all’s well with women if their priority is family first. Being the daughter of a forester officer she said she grew up with mother nature and learned many lessons useful to her, she regaled the gathering of women with anecdotes from her own life in private and public life. She said she has emerged considerably unscathed because her father shaped so much of her consciousness vis-à-vis the environment and the need to protect it.
Two-thirds of the working force is women, Nirmala bai pointed out but they “earn only one/tenth of the income!” Even in property rights women lose out majorly. We can see how women become pawns by the fact that billions are earned annually courtesy the pornography industry, “Women are at the mercy of intolerance, infidelity, psychological and emotional pressure…and they have no power to do anything about it.”
Under the circumstance the key word to free women from being used and abused is to educate them. Education must change the mind set of both men and women. Women should be respected as individuals first if not as equals! She said, “Men must stop thinking of women as in the famous Amitabh Bachchan song Hamare aangane mein tumara kya kaam hai…’” We must move from intolerance to tolerance and respect must be visible and not just talk, “Bai doesn’t mean second class citizen. Very often in relationships it is a case of women suffering from an inferiority complex and a lack of effective communication…your patience is really your power!” Nirmala Sawant urged women from all sections of society to go beyond religious rituals to improve relations with everyone because, “Prem (love) is shakti (strength) and everyone’s God is one!” After that cheering talk it was time for the marvelous motivational speaker Poonam Sirsat to make women sit up and start ticking anew in her talk titled “It’s my time!” This was along lines of how women should make time for themselves too apart from catering to everybody else’s needs (but not their needs), to acquire confidence, to love and respect themselves first no matter what challenge are thrown their way. Poonam got the women in the audience laughing when she asked, “When was the last time you did something for yourself for the first time?” Implying that women do things for themselves only when they are doing it for their children, or husband or family…but never exclusively for themselves! Recounting her own life she said she jolted out of her comfort zones, “When at 35 I lost my father who was my pillar of life, then at 36 I lost my husband…I was broken, I cried a lot. I am a teacher, I taught life skills. Then when this happened to me I looked at the mirror and saidI have taught so many students, if I give up on my life…what will they think of me? If I give up they will all say Poonam gave up!”
That was the starting point for her to live anew after the tragedies which shattered her, she discovered that for women too “It is swim or die!” And to her pleasant surprise, “People are willing to help you for nothing as I learned in my life.” So she learned to live again, to travel by herself around the world, “Women must figure out who they are and what it takes to make them happy…ask yourself what is my strengths, be proud of them, love yourselves, if you don’t love yourself how can you love another?”
All this and much more, she concluded by saying that if her mother in her 70s in Bangalore can handle the smart phone so well, so can any other woman, “My mother can now zoom to keep in touch with her children!” Final take to the women who’d turned up for the power talking, “Your empowerment is in your hands. I can give you only what I have! Know your strengths and weaknesses and most important of all, first appreciate yourself!”
AFTER Poonam Sirsat I dare say there was little left to say and I must confess my dears, I was quite stirred by all the pep talking I listened in to for half-a-day. Sorry I had to skip the afternoon sessions including one presented by Arun Pandey on “Sex Trafficking in Goa: Situation, Challenges & Solutions”, also Ketaki Gadekar on “Women and Mental Health”, Dr Jennifer Lewis, Jayashree Pawar and Hema Sardesai sharing experiences, the performance of street plays, and some more which I missed.
Wishing you all the best on making it a happy women’s day every day and on that note it’s avjo, selamat datang, poiteverem, au revoir, arrivedecci and vachun yeta here for n

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