Naseeb, kismet, vidhi, whatever you choose to call it, the meaning is the same in every language – destiny or fate. This is Women’s History Month, coinciding with International Women’s Day on the 8th of March. I hadn’t intended on writing about Women’s Day because I’m sure there will be enough articles and speeches to assail your mind. But I was very moved by a book I recently read, a story about two generations of women in Afghanistan, who took it upon themselves to change their naseeb, no matter the cost. It got me thinking of all the women I’ve heard of, who have done the same, unassuming women who altered the course of history in such remarkable ways; Anne Frank, Indira Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Maya Angelou, Malala Yousafzai, the list goes on. I can only be in awe of such legendary women.
To think that in this day and age, women do not have access to education, the right to vote, drive or equal pay, the right to make decisions for their own health, the freedom to choose whom to marry, the security to travel alone without fear, is beyond appalling. Much has progressed but much remains hindered, silenced and unchartered. What does March 8th really mean for me? Does it affect my life in any significant way? I’ve never really reflected on it, until this week. ‘Purim’ was celebrated a few days ago, to remember the deliverance of the Jewish people from mass genocide, by one brave Jewess, Queen Esther, who defied their death sentence. I thought about the documentary ‘India’s Daughter’- the brutal gang rape and murder of Jyothi Singh, whose broadcast is banned by the Indian government, the child brides/mothers of Guatemala, the countless domestic workers in the Middle East who are beaten, raped and worked like cattle; this culture of injustice, violence, inequality and indignity…I wanted to sob, soul racking sobs. How can I pretend that this does not involve me? More importantly, what do I do after knowing all of this? I’m not an activist or a social reformer in any way. But I am a woman. A wife, and a mother to a little boy, who is growing up in a world as tragic as this. There IS hope, because this is also a generation that is fermenting a change. I want my son to be a part of that revolution in the way the world views and treats women.
I mused over all the incredible, resilient women in my life, who have overcome insurmountable circumstances to survive and be where they are, who refused to accept what was in their naseeb, who sacrificed, persevered and endured. You know who you are… You are my heroes.
“The best protection any woman can have … is courage.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton