If this world is to survive and survive with peace, equity and justice, it is imperative that girls and women of the world grab the 21st century with a do or die zeal.
We, women, seriously need to ponder as to what are the reasons that we are still lacking far behind men. We know that mankind has made unforeseeable progress in the material world in its journey of about 5000 years and reached the zenith of its endeavor in the field of medicine, scientific research, space exploration, engineering, technological and architectural advancement. Nuclear weapons have been produced which may devastate the entire world in a few moments. We have deciphered many mysteries of nature yet millions of mysteries of nature are still to be deciphered. Now, almost everything of comfort and luxury becomes available with the recitation of magical ‘abracadabra’ yet it could not surge towards world peace with justice and equity and instead has sullied its course with wars, orchestrated exploitation and persecution of the weak and the poor and found glory in the suppression of the fellow human beings on the grounds of race, ethnicity, caste, color, religion, language et al and exhibited abominable tendency of feudalism, racial superiority, pride and prejudices and more to enslave other human beings and even nations by spreading the tentacles of colonialism or crippling their economy and goading them to surrender by issuing sanctions against them.
Each stride of science baffles us and gives us ample reason to admire human intellect, the human potential to do which earlier seemed to be undoable. But the failings of mankind have also been of gargantuan levels as compared to its achievements. The worst failing of mankind in its history of the past 5000 years, has been failing of men and women to march hand in hand. No doubt, men have dominated the scene but the question is, why have the women lagged behind? Did men not allow them to surge ahead or they themselves lacked in initiative and drive. I believe it is owing to both factors. But there can’t be any excuse for women’s lacking behind.
Right now is the time when we women should gird up our lions and secure not less than half the space which is rightfully due to us. Rights are not given. Rights are secured and secured with a positive assertion. Women have to be assertive and shun taking things lying down as their fate. Some men have paid lip service to women and some have berated women as being inferior to men.
Indian Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, a great child rights activist, beautifully articulates men’s gratitude to women when he mentioned in my book, Battling Injustice: 16 women Nobel Peace Laurates, “We all owe our existence to women, for we all once lived and breathed inside her.” Rudyard Kipling says, “God could not be everywhere, and, therefore he made mothers.” Such feelings of gratitude no doubt are welcome but more welcome would be man’s shunning of his propensity to subjugate woman sheer on the strength of his physical prowess. He has to eschew his self-perceived superiority over women. The stage for woman’s subjugation was set long back by Aristotle who in his work Politics states “as regards the sexes, the male is by nature superior and the female inferior, the male ruler and the female subject.” Plato, the teacher of Aristotle, in his work Timaeus claims that men who were cowards and were lazy throughout their life shall be reborn as women.” He further holds in his work Republic that if a man fails to live a life of happiness that agreed with his character, he would be born a second time, now as a woman.
When the ancient Greek philosophers thought so lowly about women, it was certain to impact the women’s psyche and it did and the result is there before us. There has been a lop-sided growth of mankind. Whereas men have come to occupy 95 % positions of the heads of states in the world today, women are occupying meager 5% positions of the heads of states. The women noble peace winners till today are just 17 out of the history of this prize of 115 years.
This clearly shows how challenging it is for women of the present era to annihilate such a superiority mindset of men. It would entirely depend on us as to how do we empower our minds to surge ahead and win our rightful place of equality with men? It should, however, always be clear in our minds that the path of women empowerment be not in any way seen as being antagonistic to the path of men. We are inseparable from men as men are inseparable from us. But we should no more admit any lower position. If men are considered to be superior in physical prowess, we are superior in emotional prowess which consists of love, affection, empathy, sense of oneness of humanity et al. God has chosen us to be the vehicle of the perpetual running of the human cycle. While Plato says that women are inferior to men, I say women are in no way inferior to men and if the relative merit is being rated, woman’s sole role of keeping the human cycle running, by far outshines her merit and her virtues of love, compassion, empathy put her on far higher pedestal which man cannot think of catapulting himself with all his physical prowess which perhaps is the main forte of man. The real challenge before women of today is to strive hard and so hard that in the shortest possible time they come to occupy their rightful place of equality with men; not in confrontation but in harmony with them.