Veteran Shabana Azmi says women must be "placed at the centre of development" while another seasoned actor Khushboo feels it's time to "change the mindset of people" towards women.
Women's Day is March 8 and Indian actresses express what it means to be a woman, what changes they feel should be brought about and which woman inspires them:
Shabana Azmi: Separate but equal/different but equal surely must become the axiom for Women's Day. Men and Women are different... and this difference needs to be celebrated. I salute the women's movement for creating space that has allowed many of us to walk the untrodden path. But we must remember with shame that there are pockets in our country where female foeticide is still being practised... Women must be placed at the centre of development because empowerment of women is the true yardstick of a nation's progress….
Being a woman for me is essentially mastering the art of multitasking, being a care-giver to parents, kids and spouse... But above all being a woman means being informed by my gender and playing the game differently and negotiating more space for all women.
The woman I admire most is my mother Shaukat Kaifi. I find inspiration from my maid who washes our dishes so her daughters can go to English school, from women who work in the fields and factories. More power to women.
Khushboo: I don't celebrate Women's Day as I celebrate being a woman every day. We need to bring the change in our mindsets rather than in society, because we are the architects of our social order. Do I want changes? I am quite content with my space at home and at work. I am not inspired by any woman. But I do have the highest regard for Hema aunty (Hema Malini). The one woman has made a difference in my life was Ubin Fernandez, my hairdresser, guide, guardian, mother, friend… Lost her to cancer last December. She had been with me for 28 years from the time I became a leading lady in 1984.
Aditi Rao Hydari: Being a woman means turning every negative into a positive... mustering a great inner strength in the toughest and gentlest of circumstances. In most societies, women are taught to hide their inherent sensuality grace and beauty. Every woman must be allowed to be herself. Speaking for cinema, I wish our movies wouldn't objectify women... I'm inspired by any woman who has worked with passion and lived with grace. There are so many unsung women who do that every day. They are my heroes.
Pooja Bedi: Being a woman is the most complete experience. We embody and express naturally the qualities of nurturing and empathy, gentleness and compassion and an incredible inner strength. We are Laxmi, Saraswati, Parvati, Durga and Kali. Personally on this Women's Day I see no need for change, as I feel I possess a great yin and yang balance. Professionally I'd like to do another talk-show to inspire women to live their lives to their full potential... I also want to create awareness about female foeticide and gender bias. The woman I find most inspiring? Angelina Jolie.
Alisha Chinai: The only way to get power is to give it away. No one understands this more than a woman. She has the ultimate unimaginable power... The women who inspire me? Sonia Gandhi, Eva Peron and Madonna.
Lilette Dubey: For me being a woman means that I have the power of Durga and Shakti... the power to be a force. The power to be multifaceted. I'm lucky to be born to play so many roles in real and reel life... I'd like to expand the scope of my activities, explore new talents, may be make a film, write a book or cut an album. I'd love to be a grand mom. I've always been inspired by Meryl Streep's versatile talent and innate goodness.
Raima Sen: Being a woman for me means a number of things. Independence, strength, grace, determination... I'd like to do more roles of substance, stronger characters. On a personal level, I'd like to be more resolute and go out there to make a difference. The woman who inspires me most is my grandmother Suchitra Sen.