My first brush with the idea of prejudice against girls was in class IX. I was part of a school play titled, “Whose Child is This?” that beautifully brought about the story of an unwanted girl child. Until then I had hardly ever known that girls were the lesser preferred choice in society. From there on began a journey of trying to discover the evolution of women through ages. And it isn’t a fairytale. Women have for years been subjected to unequal treatment and have fought consistently to find a desirable berth in the world. And the story stretches to all corners of the world.
Women have for years been subjected to unequal treatment and have fought consistently to find a desirable berth in the world. And the story stretches to all corners of the world. It is neither region specific nor race specific. All races have been equally stung by a patriarchal set up and we have women like Simone De Beauvoir, Coco Chanel, Maya Angelou, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Malala Yousafzai, Chimamanda Adichie to thank for whatever little changes have come about in the treatment meted out to females all over the world today. These rebel girls have stood up for themselves and for all womanhood.
Today we have girls who have taken the entire world by storm. They are fast changing the face of the modern world. Be it academics or sports, music, films, research, medicine, engineering, space, designing, rock climbing, the armed forces, truck driving, shooting or self defence. There isn’t a field that is left untouched by girls. Gone are the days when a profession was deemed unsuitable for them. They are all over the place today. And not on mercy. They are scoring better than boys in the board examinations and are giving tough competition for the highest office in the country (read President). They are better caretakers of old parents and are better adept at being parents themselves. Sushmita Sen is an apt example of a single mother who has been an ideal parent.
The World is slowly waking up to girl power and they are the future. In a world that is so full of apathy and bloodshed, we need women for their strength, vision and tenderness to lead the way to peace.
So what does it take one to be the rebel girl? Simply break the glass ceiling. Question all norms, ask why a lot and don’t be afraid to do what your heart desires. It may not be what is usually expected of girls but it is enough that you believe in it. Dream bigger, fight harder, aim higher.
Alfonsina Strada loved to cycle. She could ride a bike so fast that before you realised she would whizz past you. She entered the Giro d’Italia, one of the toughest races in the world. People doubted her because no woman had ever done it before. When the race finished, Alfonsina was a hero. She later went on to set a speed record that stood for twenty six years! And all this in early twentieth century.
Mary Kom came from a poor Indian family and struggled for two meals a day. Mary once walked up to a boxing coach asking him to train her. He rejected her saying she was too tiny. But she was determined and the coach agreed. Her parents didn’t support her at first. Her father was very against it. She worked hard, slept in hostels, skipped a meal because she didn’t have enough money and became a champion. She won several medals including one at the Olympics!
Rosa Parks has a very simple story. She lived in Montgomery, Alabama. There were separate laws for white people and black people. They went to different schools, shopped in different places, drank from separate drinking fountains. Rosa Parks was forty two when she did something bold and revolutionary. When traveling by a bus, she was asked by the driver to give up her seat for a white person. Rosa refused to do so. Even though she had to spend a night in jail. But she decided to be brave and show people that it was possible to say no to injustice. Her friends supported her and all blacks boycotted the buses. The boycott lasted 381 days and only after bus segregation was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme court. After ten years segregation was banned in all other states. It was a simple woman who just stood up against injustice and changed the laws of a country.
Sonita Alizadeh was only ten when she was told by her parents that they had to sell her into marriage. Born in the year 1996 in Afghanistan, Sonita did not want to get married at that young age. She wanted to study, write and sing songs. As luck would have it, at the last moment her marriage fell through. War broke out and Sonita was sent to a refugee camp. She went to a nearby school and started writing songs. At the age of sixteen, her mother told her that they had found another groom for her. Sonita then wrote a hard hitting song called “Brides for Sale” and uploaded it on YouTube. She became famous as the video went viral. She won a scholarship to study music in America. Sonita chose to find her destiny by not keeping silent and sharing the words that are in her heart. She fought a rather conservative tradition of her country to give wings to her dreams.
Tajamul Islam, the eight year old Kashmiri girl scripted history when she won the gold at the World Kickboxing Championship.She created a sensation in the valley with the support of her family. Parents can help young girls bring out their latent talent by being rock pillars of support.
A child bride, married at the age of eight, Rupa Yadav of Jaipur’s Kareri village has an extraordinary story of determination, will power and courage. Rupa defied destiny to embrace her dreams. She emerged from the shadows of child marriage to pursue a career. Rupa was in Class 3 when she was married to 12 year old Shankar Lal. She continued her studies and scored 84 percent marks. She was keen to study further and her husband motivated her. After class twelve she appeared for AIPMT but couldn’t qualify. With help from her husband and brother in law, she managed to qualify this year’s NEET with 603 marks out of 720 and a national rank of 2,283. She will most likely secure a berth at a government medical college in Rajasthan. The fee for her four year MBBS course will be borne by the institute where she underwent coaching. Rupa reminds me of a song by India’s first all girl band, VIVA… “Koi yeh keh raha hai aaj humse Na haar manna kisi sitam se Har ek bandana ko tor do tum….Jaago zara, savera ho gaya!!”
Stories of success have rocked the world through ages but it is the tale of the phoenix that excites us the most. Women have crossed barriers and challenged traditions. These are just a handful of stories. There are more and many more, of girls who chose to give a befitting reply to a patriarchal set up and male domination and proved that there is nothing that a woman can’t do.
Dreams can be turned into reality and there should be no impediment if self belief is strong. Women over centuries have risen above countless atrocities and proved the world wrong. We still have miles to go before we can be confident of gender equality but gone are the days when girls were confined to the four walls of their homes.
The message on the wall is clear dear girls — The world is your oyster! Rebel for your cause!!
The not so estranged case of Gudiya
The small state of Himachal Pradesh was recently shocked by the case of rape and murder of sixteen year old Gudiya. Youngest of six siblings, she had dreams like any young girl, of making it big in life. Her aspirations were nipped by a handful of inebriated men.
Such crimes against women put society to shame time and again. However, a handful of such people cannot deter girls from following their desires and achieving their aims. We are an enlightened society today and must encourage girls to set the trail ablaze with their grit and courage.
While we hope for justice in the case, we are also sure that women have never and will never succumb to such pressures.