A few years back, I happened to stumble on a Marathi TV series Uncha Maza Zoka (loosely translated, my swing goes high). It was the life story of great Ramabai Ranade, who fought for women education. I am a bit embarrassed to acknowledge that I didn’t know about her before watching this series.
Of course, I am aware of the struggle for women education. But what left me disturbed was one particular incident, fight for citizenship. This was around the start of 20th century, Ramabai Ranade was fighting for women to be given the status of a citizen. Yeah, take a moment let that sink in. This was almost 75 years before I was born.
I was haunted by this, I wondered What do you mean, we were not citizens? I was so affected by this, but then I happened to discuss this with a friend, a man. He maintained the safe distance when he explained, Look, you were like cattle. Don’t worry, he was injured but survived.
Though that was a joke, maybe that was the reality before these movements. It really took me a long time to come to terms with this. I must say in short time, India has made a great progress.
When we get it easy, we tend to forget the struggle behind it. It is so important to know and remember that some great people believed in a cause, fought for it all through their life so that we could live a life we are living today. We take it all for granted.
On this Women’s day, let us educate ourselves about all such men and women who have fought for the cause of gender equality. Read about how they did it, what kept them going. Not only for the pleasure of reading and gratitude but to understand and learn. There will be new battles, but the struggle will be same. History will help us in dealing with them better.
In future, whenever I feel like giving up, whenever I feel my efforts will go vain, I will remind myself that Savitribai Phule and Ramabai Ranade didn’t give up. I am reaping the fruits of their lifelong struggle. I will not take it for granted. I will celebrate my freedom and use my education to help others rise.
Above all, I will not shy away from calling myself a feminist which means nothing but a believer in gender equality. As I wouldn’t have existed and wouldn’t be able to read and write without it.
On this women’s day, let’s build each other.