International Women’s Day (IWD) is observed on March 8 every year. The IWD is celebrated as the first day of the spring season. It is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women. IWD has been observed since in the early 1900’s, a time of great expansion and instability in the Western industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. The first IWD was observed on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.
It began as a political event and blended the culture of many countries especially the Eastern bloc. In many cases the day lost its political impact and became simply another occasion for men to express their love to women around them just like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. In the third world on this day political and social awareness of the plight of women worldwide are focussed upon and then forgotten for the rest of the year.
I am not convinced that celebrating Woman’s day has really achieved anything. I find that the same women achievers in India –about 25 of them who have climbed to the top — are repeatedly feted and fawned upon and paraded as role models. Fine, we celebrate them but how many new faces have sprung up in the radar in recent times? The Women’s representation Bill in the Parliament is similar to this—repeatedly aired, spoken about and relegated to the bottom of the files.
Women still are bound by the dictats of the men in their lives—father, husband, son, brother and even boss. How much economic independence does the ordinary woman have? Economic independence is not just about earning a salary or business income but about the ability and freedom to make the choice about expenditure and investment.
Interestingly, many successful professional wealth managers are in fact women because they are considered to be prudent. Yet, how many women take the lead to invest large sums in a house, stock market, investments etc.? Their call on spending is restricted to buying jewellery, clothes and white goods or furnishing—mostly personal and home oriented. Men take snap decisions to earmark family funds for large investments. A woman usually has to ask the males in her life about buying property or any other major investment. In cases where she takes the initiative, her decisions are subjected to microscopic examination by everyone around her. God forbid, something goes wrong with her choice which can happen with men too, she is subject to tremendous criticism.
So, Woman’s Day for me and for most of us should be a time to reflect about where we have arrived. I do not mean that we should become aggressive and create tension in families by being obstinately independent. We must learn to be assertive, to put across our views and opinions based on proper knowledge of the matter. So much information is available on investments, housing, savings schemes, loans and mortgages. This information can be understood with the help of specialists and made to suit your needs and requirements. Then after discussions with partners and family, a decision can be arrived at. Women must learn to take their economic independence to the next level and make sure that their choices are voiced and evaluated on a fair platform.
“Women are not the problem, they are the solution” is a quotation that has found its way into usage. Women always have been the solution as they have husbanded (sic) their resources frugally and used it for their family and children. This has been done quietly and unofficially all through society’s upheavals and plateaus. In an age that celebrates womanhood they just have to build up the confidence to assert their right to officially say where their resources are used.
Woman’s Day is yours. Enjoy it throughout the year!