It was 6.15 am, 7th March 2016 in Bangalore and I was rushing to the airport to travel to Chennai on work, it was usual till about 7 am that I finished my check-in and then sat down peacefully near gate No:4 to await boarding. I spend my time on most occasions answering to emails, but this time happened to pick up the newspaper that was lying on the seat next to me. Started to glance thru the usual news and the masala that lingers in the human brain for up to max 72hours where a given topic is beaten to death by media, be it Mallya’s lavish lifestyle or the overnight hero born in JNU. On the 5th page there was a small article that caught my attention .It was about a recently held art exhibition and a short note on the painting that was exhibited of a beautiful woman called NANGELI. Does anyone know who she was? I beg pardon my ignorance, but I did not know. For the people who do not know, must be wondering why this exceptional mention. NANGELI was a brave and beautiful woman who lived about 200 years ago in a village in Travancore. The law that existed then was that women had to pay “Breast Tax” if they wished to cover their breasts from public view. She sacrificed her life by cutting off her breasts in protest to this law/tax. With her sacrifice and death this tax was annulled.
Aghast!!! is what I felt when I read thru the article. The woman inside me boiled with rage. The rebellious feeling gushed into me and I could not help but repeated thoughts kept going back and forth and was really pre occupied, while the boarding announcement was done. I boarded the flight and my usual self would have been to take a quick nap as soon as the flight takes off, but I was not getting a wink of sleep this time as my mind was super active just thinking again and again “how could they”. While these thoughts continued to hit me, the woman in me, came in front to reflect and ponder why did this happen at all and what has changed today. Was it the environment, the people, or the culture and practices that were to be held responsible? Is it the gender itself to be held responsible for not having more women like NANGELI to stand up for the due rights and dignity of women.
On one side as I read such articles and get pained by History, a matter of small solace I get is from what has changed from then to now. The journey of a woman has seen progress in various measures.. There is an effort to invest in oneself to equip with skills complimented with opportunities to excel in various fields in this fast growing environment. In the Urban sector there has been a paradigm shift in women excelling in almost every field standing equal if not more competitive in the whole race of the battle of the sexes. Women are entering areas which were once treated to be only a “Man’s Job”. She stands tall breaking new barriers and myth each day. Be it the woman to go to space or to drive an auto rickshaw in the narrow roads of Mumbai. Be it standing on the frontier to protect the country or winning a beauty pageant with her beauty & wittiness. Every single field she is making her mark. On the other side Rural women are making progress but at a pace far lesser than the urban sector. There is lot more investment that need to be done to bring in true empowerment. It is also our obligation as women to be part of this change and support women in need. Education & Actions led plans can only bring about this change. I always feel and have said in the past with the power of the 3 A’s that is Ability, Agility and Adaptability a woman has the talent to multitask most effectively when compared to her counter part of the opposite gender and hence the need to continue to invest time on herself and follow her dreams is a must. Whatever we do , there needs to be focus and our understanding must be more than skin deep! . While I write and talk about women and what they need to do, it is critical and vital that there is an encouraging support System. Woman must be seen as the backbone of society and not as competition that needs to be put down. Progression of Women will only enable progression of a nation!!
We need an eco system that strongly believes in the fact Yes to Gender Equality –Yes to Progress.
A little deeper on this is a short blog I had written, which you could read from the below link.
In my view true empowerment would be the day when we don’t need to scream our lungs out to be treated at par or differently. Frankly we do not need any governing bodies to give us a Quota as a gesture of their “Kindness” which only tends to reassure us of our “weakness”. With the changing times and grit in women increasing multifold, there are and will be many NANGELI’s who will live immortal and continue to Rise & Shine.
We as women must act responsibly as our worth is a direct reflection of our actions!!!