Friday, 15 February 2013

Stike. Dance. Rise... To stop violence against women

This is my speech at the One Billion Rising, 14th February 2013. Thought of sharing it on my blog.....

Good afternoon Ladies and gentlemen, Thank you all for being a part of the One Billion Rising.

Violence Against Women – Some Key Facts from the U.N.    
      Violence Against Women is a huge public health issue and a violation of human rights. It results in a wide range of physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health issues for both men and women, compounded by women who are afraid to report the violence she faces. With little access to healthcare, education and opportunity, many women are left open to abuse.  
      Up to one in three women experience physical or sexual violence in their lives. This means your mother, sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter, cousin, or even you, may be or have been abused in some manner in your lives.        
      Do not be deceived: Violence against women is all about power. It is the attempted domination over your life by your abuser. 
      Violence against women is also a national health concern. Intimate partner abuse, or Domestic Violence, was estimated to exceed US$5.8 billion a year in the United States alone. The majority went into direct medical and healthcare services, something most women lack access to until something serious happens.

      Violence against women is NOT a private or family issue. It is a community and public health issue affecting not only the abuser and his victim but everyone around them.

Violence against women

Violence can be of various kinds not necessarily physical. In fact the repercussions of the non physical violence are much more deeper.  It is quite coincidental that I speak here today on the issue. I had no clue about the one billion rising and our company joining so many others must say nations in fact. I had written a post on my blog it was titled ‘Do women get things easier?  by just being who they are!’ I had shared my own observations on the issue. I am thankful for not being exposed to the kind of violence that we hear about but that’s not all… issues are there and there are women dealing with them, everyday!
I shall not speak about them, we have already heard a lot, What I wish to talk about today are Issues that affect the lives of the women here at work places and in our neighbourhood.

Empowerment:  When we women say empowerment we don’t ask for the sky but the idea of being fully able to authorize ourselves to be ourselves.

We certainly don’t want to be labeled housewives, a more respectable word homemaker or the career oriented girl. “Having a traditional wife who cooks, cleans and is submissive might be nice. However, choosing a capable, independent and career-oriented woman can also bring enormous benefits” These are the lines taken from a very successful author, Mr. X.. this is stereotyping. A woman should have the choice to stay at home or go out to work. Just because she has a career outside her home not necessarily means that she is capable, independent and brings enormous benefits. A housewife can also be all that, she can be more educated and capable than some career women but has chosen to stay at home. Similarly what she wears also leads to stereotyping. I could be wearing a pair of shorts, or a mini skirt, that’s my choice, I could be enjoying a drink just the same way I wear sarees and fast. It’s a choice I make and shouldn't that make you slot me in one category or the other.

Every woman has a war that she fights
just to create the right balance at home and in her life; she needs to be good both at home and at work, the pressures can be extremely stressful for her. The roles that she plays demand a lot of her time and attention, she is a daughter, a daughter in law, a wife, a mother, She plays the roles of compassion, that come naturally to her. Lets not take her out completely from that, there are times we need to understand that role, that’s how a few companies have created flexi times or flexi jobs for them. We salute that option.

Whats the need to work?
It hurts me just like a lot of other women when people ask me that. It’s a choice that we make, we have a good education and something to give back to society and also to make us independent. Why should we be asked the need for us to work.
I remember at the catering college, we were very few girls in the batch, the ratio was around 1:6 girls: boys. The boys would often tell us that we get things easier, during the campus placements we were told that we’d get jobs just by smiling. I could never ever take that. In fact the reason that we were at the college with them meant having fought our way to reach there. We worked equally hard, and slogged during our internship; we were the toppers in the batch and definitely did not get our job by just smiling.

We demand to be taken seriously 
Why should we always scream just to be heard?
Each one of us here today, lets pledge that we’ll not tolerate violence against women in any form; we must condemn it and pledge to raise our voices till justice is met
As women lets not blame others for every injustice that we face but fight on our own and ensure that we'll not be afraid, we'll take charge and we'll rise!

Thank you

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

This valentine' all those Crushes!

 "Jidhar Apna Crush Hai, .... Udhar Pehle Se Hi Rush Hai" 

Everyone has that one person that they will always have something between but will never do anything about it.
Another walk down the memory lane... Oh! looks like I have done quite a bit of that of late!... Never mind heres another one for the Crush's sake.... Its Valentine season anyway!

(This is dedicated to all the women of my generation)

Yes, Valentines day is around the corner, its the season of love and expression of love. Let me just see where my love story started... or is it stories? Makes me think of all those men that I (women of my generation) desired, ... who meant the world to me (women of my generation)... yes I am talking about my crush(es)!

My first was AB... you are right Mr. Amitabh bachchan, I just loved watching him on screen, in fact saw a lot of his movies as my dad was a fan of his. I hated every woman who romanced him (onscreen)... including Rekha... big time! Even now I can't seem to like her any whatsoever way!! I was in the first grade then, there was a big competition for me from a classmate, who also happened to stay in the neighborhood. She'd say that she would get married to AB... you are right in guessing that I just couldn't stand that woman.... girl...(little girl) actually...we were 6 years old! Rightly so I haven't kept in touch with her!

When I was about 8, saw Elvis Presley on Doordarshan... he was oh cool, that explained how hundreds of women would faint just looking at him perform on stage. I dreamt of meeting him one day! That day never saw the light....

This was the story for many years; then came "Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak", I guess we were in the 8th grade then. Aamir Khan was the 'Mass crush'... by now we girls had learn to handle competition and were okay to share our 'crush'. You see we had a common interest/ topic to talk about.We used to have his pictures (post cards) in our books... would have his posters in our rooms. 

Tom Cruise was the next guy we all fell for...his posters adorned the walls as well. Loved him in 'Cocktails' and every other movie, everytime he wore the aviators, the heart would skip a beat. (yes Aamir was there on the background, like comfort food!) 

Richard Gere would always appear to be that suave, dependable guy... oh we simply loved him. George Clooney made us fall in love with the salt and pepper! These guys portrayed the men who we'd eventually marry..... sad that they themselves couldn't remain married!

Just then Ricky Martin, came on the scene with 'Un Dos Tres' and we gave Aamir and Tom a break. Ricky was the guy each one of us wanted to dance with. We watched the Miss Universe contest (Sushmita Sen won the crown that year) but we all have Ricky's performance etched in our memories... can't recollect the contest though! We girls loved Shah Rukh Khan in Fauji... he'll always remain Abhi... to us. Wasim Akram bowled us over, some preferred Imran Khan though! Steve Waugh was the cricketer I simply loved, yes got to see him too but the sad part is while I was working at a hotel... so no autographs or photographs with him. He certainly is photographed in the memory!

Michael Bolton mesmerised us with his voice and So did Roberto Baggio with his skills on the field, Ayrton Senna was the God on the formula one circuit. Rahul Dravid -the Wall was / is still the best guy ...we look upto, infact every mother loves him. I just couldn't believe the world of what they spoke about Hensie Cronje.... But crush is a crush and it remains so! Spectacles would never look better on any other man than Daniel Vettori and no can can be as gentleman as Pete Sampras. We loved those men.....

Chhota mota crushes don't deserve a mention they lasted anywhere from a few minutes to probably a couple of months. 
Then came a man who made up for all those crushes.... and made me take the 'saath phere' with him.. Is he a crush?... ofcourse Not, He is the world to me!... my valentine for life!

Did I miss Akshay Kumar, the Khiladi guy and Bryan Adams remain my all time 'Crush' just like AB, Lots of them came and went by and I evolved with these three.

Apologies if I have missed out a few others.... you know its the thing of the heart so no logic is used... hope you understand!

Wishing all these men and everyone else a Very Happy Valentine's Day! 


I'll keep with my promise of writing about Abhilash Tomy in my posts till he is back from his historic voyage.
(Abhilash Tomy is attempting to be the first Indian on a solo non stop unassisted circumnavigation of the globe)

This gentleman is the 'toast' of the season for sure for more than one reason. He celebrated his birthday this month and so did the Mhadei his boat turning 34 and 4 respectively. They have been celebrating the special moments together. Spending their time in the lap of the mighty oceans and sighting some spectacular views... dolphins in their element being just one of them!

To know more about Lt. Cdr Tomy and his boat the Mhadei, follow the link below.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Do women get things easier?... just by being who they are!

Why can’t we take a woman seriously?.... why does she need to prove herself often  and scream every now and then to be heard.

I am certainly not a feminist and neither am I taking about gender bias here… its just a matter of fact observation that I have made over the years and wish to put it on paper today (post on my blog!). A walk down the memory lane....

We are three siblings, I have a younger brother and a sister, while growing up dad always treated us sisters like princesses, never scolded us even if we made a mistake. But he was pretty strict with our brother. Dad was extremely protective about us… he still is. I remember when we were in Kochi, we used get a medical team visiting all homes to collect blood samples from the family members to test for malaria and filaria. They would generally come after 9 pm. We, the sisters were scared of the pain .... dad would hide us somewhere in the house and not allow the med guys to even know that there were more people in the house.  Mom wouldn't approve of it... but dad was always with us!. 

Today when I look back, being a mother now, wouldn't do that with my kids... again my kids are both boys, would it have been different if they were girls? I guess it wouldn't be. But I certainly can't be sure.
In school during the primary years, the girls were the more studious types, I am not talking about intelligence here...Girls were more into giving time to their studies, paying attention in the class and participating in the Co curricular activities (they liked to be in the good books of their teachers) whereas boys were more into the playground, spending more of their time and energies there whenever they could manage a little beak. They would even have a match or two of football after school. Academically the girls might have done better but boys scored on the all round development.

During the secondary and high school days, things start to change, boys too get serious in the class room activities, I speak in a general term here, I mean the majority of them, some are serious right from the kindergarten! The results and ranking in the class start having more boys on the list. During the junior college years I guess the seriousness or maturity, (is about the same in both the genders), The results are also similar (if they matter!). At this stage the priority starts to change in both the genders. Boys might head for the technical streams like engineering, medicine etc whereas more girls would choose the humanities and similar as their field for higher education. Any professional college you visit, there will be more boys than the girls in every batch. In India, this is also a kind of 'the face' of the society where women don't get the opportunities to go for higher studies, reasons can be socio-economic or any other from the array of issues. Many drop out of undergrad programmes, as they choose to get married or are asked to settle down at the right time(!?).. This is more prevalent in the rural areas and smaller towns. Metropolitan cities more or less are out of this stereotype.

During my college days, the ratio of girls to boys in my class was 1:5 as it was a professional course and not many girls were there taking it up. The boys always felt that it was easier for the girls, what I feel today, looking back is, it wasn't easier at all, the girls had to face a lot of opposition and challenges to be where they were and doing what they were.... the time was different then. Hotel Management was meant to be a course for the cooks .... chefs weren't celebrities then. What people didn't know is that there were 10 subjects in the first year, 14 in the second year and 10 again in the third year, that the students had to learn. The subjects were chosen from the faculty of Science, Commerce and Humanities and Management. Scoring wasn't like making an omelette! It was tough... I graduated from the institute that was considered to be the numero uno in the country.  
During campus interviews would often hear the boys saying, "Oh you'll get through, just by being a girl, there are so few of you getting through won't be difficult at all, you just need to smile." Didn't like that at all, we girls were among the toppers in the batch, worked equally hard, slogged during our internship... this was the least that we expected to hear. No one made things easier for us at any stage but everyone felt it was easier for us, as we were girls....

During the initial years of her career  a woman has to work on the double to enjoy her 'space' of being a career woman and putting in best efforts... not denying the fact that the men do that too. 
Then comes the domesticity, you could be a career woman so what? that's your choice. Home and family is also yours. I am not complaining here, again something that I often hear from girl friends and women colleagues. For a woman its, being good, both at home and at the work place. The balance has to be perfect otherwise there are accusations from both the sides. Sometimes that can lead to a lot of stress... again she needs to manage that. Does she get anything easier... just by being a woman?

The other day I was talking to a friend about the women's world cup cricket thats being held in India this year. There was hardly anything in the media, there weren't many spectators on the stands either... pat came the reply from him, "Oh has to do with their uniform". I was aghast! Do they need to wear something else to pull crowds? Can't people come to watch a good game of cricket, does it make a difference that the players are women. C'mon!!.......Can we say that the cheerleaders get the crowds for the IPL matches!! Definitely Not....
Even for events like the prestigious Wimbledon, the women tennis players had to fight to get equal prize money. I guess they get the same amount since 2007. Now some argue that men should be paid more as they stay on the court longer and play more sets.
Men and women are physically different in terms of strength and so are they when it comes to endurance. That shouldn't be the comparison ever, other things being equal.

Theres a saying, 'Don't judge my path if you haven't walked my journey!' It applies to an individual and is not specific to a particular gender.It is certainly not fair to say that women get things easier..... but its for the individuals to decide.


I'll keep with my promise of writing about Abhilash Tomy in my posts till he is back from his historic voyage.
(Abhilash Tomy is attempting to be the first Indian on a solo non stop unassisted circumnavigation of the globe)

I have been following his voyage and getting to know a more 'mature' him, 'an officer and a gentleman' through his updates on his page and reading his blog posts. Today he celebrates his birthday. He has the vast Atlantic and his favourite boat the Mhadei for company that is taking him closer to the Cape of Good Hope, thats the next major point on his voyage. 

Wishing the skipper a very happy birthday!

To know more about Lt. Cdr Tomy and his boat the Mhadei, follow the link below.