My attitude to women is best illustrated by Col Gaddafi’s example: he has only women as his bodyguards. He trusts only women, and I too believe that women are far more capable, far more efficient and trustworthy than men. In fact, if I see a woman politician, my instinctive reaction is that she must be honest. I know there are exceptions to the rule, but in my sphere of work, the women are always better at everything they do.
But it would be predictable for me to wax lyrical about the modern empowered woman of the metro when there is another reality that we choose to ignore. A reality I came face to face with in a small village called Islampur, where I visited a weaving mill that employed 400 widows and women who were victims of tragedy.
As I walked in, I was confronted by women who had spent 10 hours a day for the past three years in complete monotony, weaving without looking up. I expected them to be happy, but all I saw was submission and pain. We think women have evolved, but these women were just about coming out of their shell. I was embarrassed, ashamed of being a man at the thought of what men had put these women through. I went up to the woman in the centre, spread my lips with my fingers and said ‘Smile’. Suddenly, they all broke out into a smile. It was a beautiful, humbling moment.
Being aware of this aspect of society, which remains untouched by emancipation, jars with the urban new-age woman. This woman, a powerless victim of the men in her society, is a complete contradiction of the woman in the big city, who is empowered by her choice to say NO.
The single-most significant woman in my life is my mother. A completely selfless human being, she is my biggest driving force in life. She feeds children suffering from cancer in the morning, looks after stray dogs during the day, and spends her evenings with the aged. It is only through her that I can make a difference to the causes I espouse.
I am surrounded by such amazing women that I have to say that I’m not a feminist, I am an equalist. I believe that men and women are truly equal, but that the fight for equality is not won yet. I’d love to see a Men’s Day soon, because that would mean that equality had well and truly arrived.
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