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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Why celebrate Women’s Day at all? IPS Esha Pandey gives her take

Should we or should we not celebrate Women’s Day — that has been a debate for long. Author and IPS officer Esha Pandey feels it is a day to reinforce our pledge to work for women’s empowerment.

books Updated: Mar 09, 2019 17:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Esha Pandey, IPS officer and author, with the students of Bharti College.
Esha Pandey, IPS officer and author, with the students of Bharti College.

Should there just be a day dedicated to celebrate women? Well, should there be no day at all? Does celebrating Women’s Day (on March 8) make sense? Or is the day a commercial attempt by profiteers? Well, we can be on the either side of the fence or sit on it.Author and IPS officer Esha Pandey feels it’s a day when one could celebrate everyday warriors. Here’s what she says: 

“I first celebrated Women’s Day in my school, the Army Public School, Lucknow. As the captain of Trishul House, which was on duty during the week, I had to plan activities for the assembly and decorate the main notice board with material relevant to the topic. It was a very good way to introduce a new topic to knowledge-hungry kids. When I joined masters at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the importance of the day was further impressed upon me. There were debates, plays, book displays and collage making through the week preceding Women’s Day. However, there was a lot of negativity attached to celebrating women on only one day in the year. I mean how could anyone at JNU in their right minds, say that the rest of the days of the year were not days for women?

“Even when I was writing my MPhil on the three waves of feminism, I was theorizing. The real meaning of the idea behind International Women’s Day dawned upon me after I joined the Indian Police Service in my mid-twenties. It was a day when women were recognized for their achievements without differences — ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. Reality of the women’s struggle day in and day out changed the paradigm of ‘being a woman’ for me completely, once I came face-to-face with the dilemmas of a working woman, or a victim of sexual abuse, or a victim of domestic violence waiting for justice ,or a single mother who was also a constable working at night, or a very senior officer who still had a few glass ceilings to break (sic). There was no equality, not even a semblance of it in Indian society.

“So why was Women’s Day celebrated with so much gusto if the real premise of equality had still not been reached in the last four decades since the celebration of first International Women’s Day in 1975, I asked. The answer lies in the social media campaigns of the major political parties. There is no or very little support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. 33% reservation in Parliament and Police, is a case in point. There are only 11.2% women in Lok Sabha and only 7.28% women in Police in India. Therefore, International Women’s Day needs to be celebrated every year to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. The survivors and the warriors need to be celebrated every day and if the International Women’s Day on 8th March provides that opportunity, so be it.

“I asked my batchmate Suman Chandra, an IAS officer and a maverick of sorts, what feminism meant for her and if she celebrated Women’s Day. To her, feminism means ‘striving for something which society might otherwise make women believe that they aren’t capable of’. She believes that International Women’s Day is a reminder that women should not give up, that each day is an opportunity to renew the pledge to push one’s limits. Suman is a warrior, she believes in being a hands-on mother and despite it not being welcomed at senior levels, she chose to give motherhood as much importance as her work. She doesn’t think that women have to give up on motherhood to succeed. She stands up for herself and voices her opinions where it matters the most.

“Neha, a senior IPS officer, says that it’s good that a day has been earmarked to celebrate the wonder that is woman. For her feminism is about the freedom to make choices, without being judged by society. She believes we have come a long way but there are miles to go before we actually break the glass ceilings found everywhere. Besides being a daring police officer, Neha takes interest in the women’s cause and encourages them to be fearless. As a district SP, she launched an attack on the country liquor industry with the help of local women and saved many lives from the impending hooch tragedies.

“The real meaning of Women’s Day, therefore, is to celebrate everyday warriors and survivors and to celebrate the spirit of never giving up. The commercialization (think various discount coupons) of a cause might have happened, still it’s a cause which is extremely relevant, and we cannot lose sight of. Here’s wishing all my fearless divas a happy Women’s Day!” smiles Esha.

Esha Pandey is an IPS officer and an author. Her latest book, Someone Exactly Like You, is now available for order. She has served as a DCP in Delhi Police .

Interact with the author @PandeyEsha

First Published: Mar 09, 2019 16:59 IST

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