When I saw handout in the cafeteria, I thought I should pen down my thoughts on celebrating International Women’s day.

In handout read the word “Fairness” was in bold. I wonder what’s everyone understanding of fairness! Is it about giving women the same facility (or some extra facilities) and print posters, take some pictures across the floors and say “You are empowered?”

When I saw this handout a few days back, I recollected a news article that stated that India stands at the third most unsafe place for women across the globe. This was really shocking! On the other hand, we are talking about Women Empowerment. Where is the disconnect? Are we doing some good at all to empower women?

Let me take a step back. There was a buzz about Liberating Women sometime back and everyone was talking about equality and empowerment. Is it all about passing some rules and the parliament agreeing to get it on the books? Later, the authorities just “Enforcing” it?

It is NOT. It has to do a lot about changing the perception of every individual in India. This is one of the biggest changes that have to be carried out where every single Indian is a stake holder.
Couple of decades ago, the way kids were taught about working with the other gender is completely out of context, thanks to the ever changing environment, Indian economical dimensions, and the needs of the modern world.

I am very happy that India has embraced empowerment of women and working toward it, but I also feel that it has left a huge gap between what our thoughts were and what we are currently thinking. We already have plans and fast forwarding everything which I think is creating confusion in the common man. A common man is forced to think that whatever is happening is not according to the law and he should protest. That is the first perception we have to clear. Nobody knows the “WHY” behind the “WHAT” and blindly following instructions. If it is explained clearly that it would be a win-win with examples, that is when people will not just react but volunteer to change their environment.

Now, equality is another topic which has to be given importance as well. Although I am not advocating alcoholism, I would want to take this simple example of the news channels creating a big havoc and broadcasting it in every news bulletin they have if a lady is caught drunk in a bar. Brawls were happening in the past when ladies were not so outgoing and men were caught and fined. Why not women as well? It’s just that everyone has to be treated respectfully. Crime is a crime no matter whatever the gender the accused may be. This culture has to be going hand-in-hand when we talk about transforming the way we want to move ahead.

It is not about the percentage of women voters we have or the percentage of parliament seats women get. It is about equal opportunities for everyone. Just a rule can’t change the world. It is on how good the rule is brought into play and not “Enforcement”.

I have not left out the main concern we have, the gravest of all. Yes, I am talking about rapes in India. Why do people think India so unsafe off-late? How was it safe earlier? Just because women weren’t allowed to get out of their houses and men made merry in the darkest of the streets and the untrodden ways? I don’t think so. It is about perception again. Are our policemen ready to protect women? They do not know the why behind the what. They think it is about caning men who molest women and putting them behind the bars and term it as just another incident. You have to be proactive and not just reactive anymore. And don’t blame on the so called “Skimpy” clothes a women might be wearing. It is how you see them. If you do not know how to handle the current situation, you will definitely fall back to what you were doing for decades now. Some even start moral policing and I think they are simply not literate enough to know what’s going on. Take that fear out of them. Make them understand that no one is snatching anything from them. That is what I call instilling the right perception.

I am sure you as a parent are doing everything you can to protect your daughter and are always threatened by the external world. It is good to be afraid, but just don’t stop there. Educate everyone you can. Create that protection shield for your kids by creating a safer environment and not just think that it will be created by someone one day. It will not happen unless YOU act.

No matter what gender you are, the next time you speak with anyone on women empowerment, let them know why we are doing it, rather than just explaining the various tasks or so called “initiatives”. That is inclusion of Diversity and YOU will make a difference.