Aiman Wasia for BeyondHeadlines
“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” ―Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Gender equality has experienced a mixed pattern of change over a past half century in terms of access to education and health, economic opportunities, and voice within households and society. Women are an emerging economic force that’s already breaking glass ceiling .Women are no less than outstanding, be it in business, politics, entertainment, sports or whatever.
Leaders like Sarojini Naidu, Jhansi Lakshmibai and Indira Gandhi who exemplified women empowerment with their deeds, let us expect many more epitomes of such personality traits. But the statement of the feisty Marie Maugeret pointed out that protection made women “a perpetual minor, under the tutelage of father, husband and state”. She illustrated “their illogic in the name of hygiene, forbids you to compromise your health in the workplace; in the name of liberty, I permit you to compromise it as much as you wish in the home. I only give you permission to go out at night to take care of certain public functions defined and supervised by law, or else for certain jobs so poorly paid men will not take them”.
This is the reality of today’s women. She have to stay in an abusive relationship just because she needed security, love or social pressure? She has to work under the management of an arrogant and sarcastic boss just because she needed money and to prove others? And also a many times she have to decide to give up some dignity to get something else in exchange that is less valuable? Which resulted her to feel deep pain, regret, sorrow and remorse.
But dignity is not giving others the right to evaluate us even if you need their approval. I am not talking about declaring love or showing interest but I am talking about the situations where you discount your value just to get something you need from other people. Self-respect is born from a profound internal sense of worth, an essential self-acceptance and self-love that each one experiences as their own true eternal goodness. It is the domain of spirituality and it is the birth-right of every human being. When there is self-respect there is stability, strength, collaboration and celebration of the other, of diversity.
There is neither competition nor comparison. There is recognition of the value and worth of one’s own self and the inherent value of the other and there is deep compassion for anyone who is not living from that essential self – including one’s own self.
As a way forward for humanity, we must do the work of nourishing both the inner and the outer. It is not enough for young girls to simply have the same or better career opportunities or earning capacity as young boys. We must find ways to nurture self-respect from birth. We must include in our home and school education ways which enable children to first grow as a being, alive with all the inner resources to love and to contribute well to society; to naturally develop confidence as their birth-right and to live freely, creatively and joyously, without fear and without force.
In the end, for the changes to be sustainable, for them to become part of a living culture, a way of living, a woman must know her own worth. It cannot be given to her nor graciously bequeathed to her. She can be shown the way to discover that worth, she can be reminded of her value; policies and laws can be shaped to give her rights and protect those rights; she can be accompanied in her discovery of herself as the unlimited being whom she is, yet finally, the matter of one´s own dignity rests with one´s self.