Somebody’s got to stop the rot, so why not you? *
Empower Gudi (Gudi is a Punjabi language word which means girl), an endeavour from MissGudi, is a call to action. It urges us to take a realistic look at the choices and contradictions that are shaping our present-day society and the terrible suffering endured by women.
On one hand, ours is considered to be a nation of gods and goddesses. Here we will find a temple, mosque, gurudwara or church at every street corner. Here we will find the greatest concentration of vegetarians in the world. This is the country that gained its independence through non-violent means and exported the concept abroad. We have deep-rooted religious traditions which go back centuries.
On the other hand, we live in a society where women are treated very poorly. Girls are so unwanted that many millions are aborted in the womb or killed right after birth. After they are born, they struggle through a childhood in which they are second-class citizens. Young girls are deprived of the same nutrition, education and opportunities their brothers receive. Many are married off in their early teens; and to get girls married, parents have to pay the in-laws a dowry which is often far beyond their means. As a result, girls are considered to be an unbearable burden. Most women are financially dependent and socially conditioned from childhood to consider themselves inferior. Many are physically and emotionally abused.
On the one hand we worship women: we go to a temple and pray to the goddesses Laxmi, Saraswati and Durga Mata; we revere motherhood to the extent that we call the planet we live on ‘Mother Earth’, and our nation ‘our motherland’. Yet we think nothing of eliminating a child’s life just because she is a girl. Can a nation treat half its population with such callousness? We read in our scriptures that all are equal, that God is love, and that we must love all in his creation; yet we love our sons and withhold that love from our daughters.
Do we not see the contradictions in our actions?
Without a doubt government and non-government organisations have done a lot to improve women’s education, health, nutrition and safety, and will continue to work tirelessly in this area. Empower Gudi focuses, instead, on a very different and crucial point – that true societal change begins with the individual. As the crisis caused by sex-selection unfolds around us, what is our understanding of the issue and what is our individual response? We, as individuals, matter because individuals make families, and families are the fundamental building blocks of society.
Proposing an awakening, our effort calls for clear thinking and compassion, saying that both these qualities are intrinsic to who we really are. Empower Gudi urges us to look deep into our conscience and judge whether our treatment of women is morally acceptable. It suggests that far from being a burden, women are among creation’s most precious treasures and urges us to empower them. In this effort, we continue to strive hard at our organisation to make individuals aware about women empowerment and equality of gender. We call upon all to share their thoughts on https://www.facebook.com/missgudi/ , share ideas what we can do individually, what we can do as a family and what we can do as a part of the organisation and as a citizen of the country.
*Lawrence School Sanawar, school song