You have been invited to present at a TED talk to speak on the occasion of International Women’s Day, an opportunity you have been sketching in your mind for a while now. The hall is packed with women, many of whom are feminists. What would you speak about? You obviously can’t go on rambling about equal rights, because that would be cliché. But you also do not want to shy away from the idea of equality for fear of being labeled an anti-feminist. But then where is the freedom if you must hold back and only tell the audience what they want to hear?
“Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for change.” We have all heard these guidelines in some form or fashion at our jobs. So why state the obvious you might ask?
I am a woman. I am a believer in the slogan ‘follow you heart, not your fears’. I am not of a different league, but freedom to live as I want, is my idea of modern age rights. This world has space for every kind of woman, and every mindset. I wanted to study, garner experience and become an entrepreneur, and I did. This is the life I had chosen for myself of course, with full support of my family. I wasn’t trying to compete with anyone or prove to anybody, how accomplished as a woman I had become. Neither did I accomplish all this due to special provisions for women. I was just working tirelessly for myself, not as a woman but as a person.
I have seen women who are married to either make a choice to be a homemaker or walk shoulder to shoulder with their man to support their family. While to us on the outside it may appear that our friend who has graduated with highest honors is simply a homemaker, to her, she is content achieving something for her family in her own way. So, the resolve here is not about every woman being equal to a man, but about every woman having the right to choose her own lifestyle.
The whole world is moving toward building smart solutions and products for men and women. As a species we are deemed to be the smartest creatures on earth. Men and women have the same level of intellect, but we choose to use or not use this intellect. It has very little to do with our gender. A woman can design the same product if her exposure and experiences relating to the product she is designing are comparable. While it has been true that only a woman understands “female” issues, it was the men who went to work to build these feminine products, while the women stayed home and cooked and watched the home.
We are also being told to innovate for change. It wouldn’t be innovation if it wasn’t directed toward change, I say. And I don’t think I would feel totally entitled if I were given special provisions to innovate. I am totally against the quota system based on gender. I would feel elated if I were selected for an award or profession on account of my merits and not on account of my gender. And I hope that there are women who agree that they must earn their place. So I encourage women to innovate for change to make our world a more encouraging space for our race to flourish. If you want to innovate and create products and spaces for women, go right ahead. If you want to do it for the men, you are not to be given grief. Equality goes both ways!
That being said, you might ask if I believe in celebrating a day dedicated to us women?
Oh yes, I do. I believe in the power of a woman who has made monumental strides since the last century. Women came together to build movements like anti-discrimination, LGBTQI rights, reproductive rights, religious freedoms and refugee rights. We have come a long way to become PERSONS in our own right, and still have a long way to go. Just, how far? No one knows. You’ll say, I didn’t play a direct role in the struggle and fight for rights, but those are the sentiments that I connected to… I followed closely, and supported them in my own quiet way by simply believing in myself, and not falling prey to my fears. I chose well by speaking from my heart and not by compulsion.
I am proud to have a day dedicated to us. To celebrate the fact that we are women!
That’s my reason for celebration, what’s yours?