Act within your circle

I MET a group of activists whose area of work involved women. They did not want to be known as feminists and they were unapologetic about it. Simply because, they reasoned, there seemed to be a host of radicalism associated with the term. Having had a long chat with this group, I surmised that we do not need a definition or a tag to be able to speak out and be heard for a good cause.

This chance encounter with the group was an eye-opener of sorts for me as a decade ago, I had or I thought I should have feminist tendencies to be able to make a stand on women's issues. That ill-conceived perception has changed, of course.

Almost daily we see news on and about women and many of these tend to present the issue of what is lacking and problems rather than focusing on the solution.

Never mind that the only news we see these days is about rape of minors; that seems to be a perennial problem and one that concerns and affects men and women, maybe in different proportions. When such news hits the headlines, we feel a deep sense of remorse and anger and it ends there.

In our country, we seem to have numerous organisations, political and non-political alike that are entrusted to deal with women and their issues. At policy level things look rosy but not at the execution level. The numbers we see working against women and girls just don't tally with the initiatives, if any.

Equally critical is bringing women to the fore and to put in place strategic steps to have more women sitting at C-level in the corporates. Again, the numbers are still going in the wrong way. Statistics don't lie, only interpretations do.

Having said that and while waiting for those in power to act, we could perhaps start doing something for ourselves.

We have 52% of the world's population made up of women and if we take conscious interest in empowering ourselves and the women and girls within our small circle, we would be making some strides, wouldn't we?

Women have made advances in many areas and yet in many more they remain far behind. The men in their hooves are galloping at a speed that women are not able to cope. But then again, why do women need to catch up with the men? Can't women take the leaps at their own pace?

We are forgetting that when men continue to move on without looking back, they leave a string of errands and responsibilities which ground women. Raising children and managing home affairs become primarily assigned to women.

Again, figures show that two-thirds of men at work have children while the numbers go down to a dismal one third for women. Women have always had to choose, home or work, and juggling and balancing is easier spoken about than done.

A very interesting video was circulating on social media recently where the question raised is, "why is doing the laundry always a woman's job", for which there were not many answers from the men.

People watch, a moment's chagrin is offered and then things go back to the usual. We need to change this culture and attitude that is sapping women of energy at home so much so their contribution at the workplace is affected.

"Women at work" is a fiercely debated topic. We have the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry giving the surety that women's participation at senior management will be increased with some initiatives and yet when we look around us, it is a far cry.

We just haven't got it right! That we are not there yet not because women are not qualified to hold positions but more because the necessary system is not there to support the "revolution".

Where I work, I have chosen to make a difference with like-minded women and we have formed a networking group which meets monthly. We are not in protest or retaliation and neither are we planning to launch some anti-men missile. All we do is get the younger generation to speak out, empowering them with a platform to be heard.

Without much ado and cost, the congregation happens and we talk about setting goals for ourselves and stepping out of comfort zones to climb the career ladder, slowly but surely. The quota system is definitely not an answer, rather it raises more questions and doubts.

"When women support each other, incredible things happen", and empowered women empower women.