On the mark of International Women Day, my purpose is not to increase awareness among my favorite readers. I believe that doing so is virtually equal to writing: “Smoking is injurious to health and causes cancer” on the packet of cigarettes. It is time that we have the conversations and that we feel comfortable discussing the topic of women’s empowerment, as well as, violence against women.
Perhaps it is that we are already aware of the situation but, either we are too afraid to challenge existing patriarch, or we are not ready to take the responsibility of challenging it. Worst still, maybe it’s in some of our best interests to not change it. Another reason I seek to do more than merely increase awareness is that, this chronic problems such as; abuse, oppression, neglect and violence against women needs more than awareness rising.
Don’t tell me that people don’t know that it is not an issue. Sexual abuse and rape, long used as a tactic of war, is still prevalent today. For women of age 15-44, they are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than cancer, car accident, war and malaria combined (World Bank data). In addition, dowry, discrimination, honor killing and trafficking are used as weapons again women, and that a girl as young as a toddler and women as old as grandmother are at risk of sexual assault.
Don’t tell me that we are not aware that a Malala with a book and pen in her hands posed a big threat to those who want to continue the status quo of radicalization.
Don’t tell me that we are not sure that socio-economically empowered women can bring lasting positive impact in their lives and lives of their children and the whole society.
Don’t tell me that we are not aware of the power that a woman can positively change the lives, for herself, for her family, for society and for nation.
The only problem is that, we are hesitant to believe in the power of women and are even resistant to accept and embrace that, “Women Empowerment and her strong independent will power, which I call, (WE will) make it happen.”
I am convinced that the gender unequal society we still live in has very little to do with lack of awareness about gender based violence or the power of women. What we all need is deep internalization, empathy, equity, dignity, social justice and most important the change in perspective. If you are really not afraid of gender equity, then let every girl have a pen and book, let every girl be Malala and then see, how WE will make this happen.