Building confidence, courage in young girls is the key

  • Kiran Bedi, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Mar 07, 2016 21:38 IST

Indian woman has arrived. Indian woman is arriving. Indian woman is still waiting to arrive. I meet all these three categories of women as I travel and connect with people in cities, towns and rural areas.

On top of pyramid

Let’s talk about the first category. Here the Indian woman has arrived...she is in a commanding position. These women are highly educated, qualified and economically self dependent. They are hiring others. They are picking their professions according to their dreams, their skills and capabilities. They are regularly upgrading their knowledge bank and planning their careers. They are leaders, team managers, diversity heads, trainers, owners, planners, policy designers, strategy heads, financiers, strong professionals, artistes and more. They are also the brain behind start-ups.

(Shutterstock photo )

They have a hefty bank balance, plan their investments, have properties in their names. They decide what is best for them. They are independent, interdependent but not dependent....

If not married, they live with their families/friends or wherever they find themselves comfortable.

If married, they have small families with paid for home services and support systems. They tend to live in a world of their own. They are mentors or givers to the less privileged and their dependents.

Such women don’t hesitate to not take up their husband’s surname after marriage. Such a woman prefers to run her father’s business. She is on par with her male siblings.

The number of such women is gradually increasing in our country. But still their population is very less.

Independent, but not fully

Coming to the second category --- the Indian woman is arriving. In this bracket, women are educated and working according to their skill-set, earn for themselves, lead teams and are even bosses in many places. They are entrepreneurs, employ people, but are still dependent on the outside support in many aspects of their life.


They are still controlled by their parents, in-laws, or their husband. They have a weak home support and in many cases their folks are not secure enough to let them work freely. Many women in this group succumb to the family pressure and even give up their jobs. They prioritise their role as wives and mothers. They surrender their economic independence and reconcile to home-making not by choice but by circumstances not in their control --- mostly absence of support to raise children and take care of elderly at home.

(HT Photo )

Such women let go their own identity. They acquire a new one so naturally. They want to be accepted. They want no conflict. They ban on their batter halves when it comes to security.

This particular group most likely goes for arranged match and a fortune is spent on the marriage as it’s a big event. Their numbers are substantial.

The less privileged

The last category --- the woman who is still waiting to arrive.--- forms the biggest chunk of the population.

These women are illiterate and practically have no skills. Not economically self reliant, such a woman is married to a person chosen by her parents. There is an expectation from her to be a good homemaker and mother (of sons preferably.) She is expected to look after her in-laws well, and if earning, it is expected that she hands over her entire salary to her husband or his family. She only gets a pocket money to meet her expenses.

(HT Photo )

She cannot share anything with her parents without the permission of her husband. She is a property of her husband and the family she is married to. She loses her own inheritance. She is known by her husband’s identity. She is sometimes a victim of domestic violence. But she takes it in the stride...unless it becomes absolutely unbearable. An overwhelming number of women in this group are from economically weaker sections of society.

Mindset change

India has a population of 1.3 billion. Half of them are women. All of them don’t enjoy the same social status. All are not having equal access to opportunities.

To empower such women, the lessons have to begin from home. Parents need to tell their daughters that they have to grow up to be self reliant, earn for themselves, be capable of running their own lives and have a right to their own dignity and identity. This requires a major mindset change. India needs parents and teachers, who can build confidence and courage among young girls.

Also, women who are in a privileged category, must reach out to their sisters at the bottom of the pyramid.

India is changing, but it can change faster, if we work for a common goal and in tandem.


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