Today is International Women’s Day and I am supposed to write about it. What do I say that hasn’t been said already? Yes, we know that for generations women have been oppressed and so this day is celebrated to remind all of us how they are very much a part of our lives and that we need to show love and respect and blah de blah.

But, like my boss pointed out, celebrating one day goes to show how we aren’t giving women their due. What needs to be done? Personally, I don’t believe in holding marches or talks. However, that does work in a lot of cases so whoever can pull it off, all the best to you! From where I see it, we just need a lot more of empathy to be accepting of women, especially the ones in distress, in need.

Let me give an example. I belong to a popular women’s group on FB. The group membership runs into thousands so it has all kinds of women. Among the other things it offers is being able to shoot an anonymous post to seek people’s opinions. Once, a young woman posted how she was finding it hard to continue in a loveless, incompatible relationship. She sought advice.

While there were suggestions galore, it was so demotivating to note that most women were telling her to keep trying because hey! Sacrifice, thy name is Woman. My point here is, that we still don’t, despite being women ourselves, believe fellow women. Would it have helped if the woman had revealed her identity? I think, yes. Because as it turned out, this woman did confide in me on messenger. And I was stunned to note that she was one of the popular members. So we sit up and take note if it is someone ‘popular’ and maybe believe her too.

That may work if it is a product to be endorsed or a cause to espouse, but how will an average woman be heard and believed? That begins at home. And while on that, there’s something else I want to point out. We shouldn’t burden our men with the responsibility of ‘protecting’ us. The other day, my son had an argument with a teacher who was lecturing him to respect women more as he has a sister. To that, the boy, all of 14, pointed out that fellow humans should be respected. Period. His logic being that respect is something other people should be given anyway, irrespective of their gender. Come to think of it, it’s not like if he is respectful of other women, somehow it will earn his sister respect of other men!

As I continue to be amazed at his wisdom, I quite agree.

In my journey as a single-again woman, I have been approached by so many women who are either struggling in a loveless relationship or showed the courage to leave but are struggling now. All I can do for them is to listen. Because at the end of the day, we all have our own set of challenges. But what can tip the balance in our favour is how much we are believed and who shows faith in us. It depends on how many cheerleaders we have.

It is heartbreaking to see 30-somethings killing themselves because even their own parents won’t believe them. The other day, there was a story of a woman murdered by her husband and then her dad confessed that she had confided in him but he told her to work on it.

I don’t need to keep listing out such cases because we all know enough of such horror stories.

But that’s about women in need of help. What about the rest of us, the ones who have regular jobs, families and life seems set? Take it from this woman, we don’t expect anything extra. OK, sometimes we do, but mostly, we are fine with you just about passing the muster. Don’t give us extra respect and extra care. But give us our due. Don’t raise your girls like princesses. Raise them to be able to fend for themselves, take their own decisions, fall, and get up again. Just let us be.

So, my two bits for Women’s Day: Let women be.

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