Thursday, December 17, 2009

The spirit of today's Iron women

Women have always been the centre of many a debate. Some have been to poke fun at and some to salute at. While I have accomplished the former I have always been in quest for finding a woman who is par resilience par charisma and most importantly a WILL to prove herself among a male infested society. In my quest for such a woman I came across two outstanding women.

Asma Jilani Jahangir, is a Pakistani lawyer and a human rights activist. I came across her in a book titled ‘Countdown’ written by Amitav Gosh. A brilliant book talking about the race India Pakistan conflict and the hunger for nuclear weapons. It was startling enough to see an activist criticizing the Pakistani government but being a woman and doing it in a country like Pakistan talks about the mettle of the lady. As I read about her activities I realized that the woman of today needs no sympathy. Today, women are creating their own niche and doing it with some style. It’s no longer patronizing to say that women will script the future of the world. They are already doing what men could not do for ages.

Asma is one of the few women or probably the only woman who condemned the nuclear powers of Pakistan. She hoped that Pakistan will not nuclearize itself just because India did. She has often been a persistent fighter for human rights and equality for women in Pakistan. Amidst many death threats she remains unfazed and the desire to see her country bloom has made her an iconic figure for women around the world. Women like Asma to me, symbolize the role today’s growing girl child has to play. The role of an empathizer and a giver of hope, to eradicate the oppression faced by women around the world. Her fight for justice include the possibility of introduction of the Sharia law in Pakistan. She argues that if the Sharia were to be implemented then she would be arguing before a judiciary that has already given a judgment by clerics and government officials.
Despite her bleak prospects she has remained as an ardent activist in the hope for reform and peace.

Irom Sharmila Chanu, ‘The Iron lady of Manipur’, is a poet in Manipur or at least was a poet in Manipur until the Indian government came up with the (AFSPA) Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which gave powers to the army to quash the insurgents demanding a separate country detaching itself from India. Such is the plight if the Eastern states in India and the government is to blame for all the problems. For a long period the government has neglected these regions and has always been indifferent to its problems. If you want your views and voice to be heard you have to make a lot of noise in the forms of riots and strikes. Sharmila adopted a far more peaceful method and went on a fast in the year 2000. Till date her voice has never been heard because the media refuses to broadcast for too long as the voyeuristic viewer’s demands diminish. Owing to this Sharmila has been on a fast ever since and vows to continue doing so until the AFSPA is removed.

The cycle of violence between the insurgents and army has left no choice to the citizens who live in constant fear for whom death is just a casual remark. Recently in Bangalore there was a small protest (around 20 people) against the government to address Sharmila’s problems. I went there the next day in hope to be of some assist only to notice that it was over within 3 hours. Her fast until death spirit is just another thing as far as New Delhi is concerned. When she does die the government will wake up with catastrophic problems in Manipur only to realize it was just 10 years late.

A heartfelt salute to these two women. As I write this article I am unable to form sentences for I am overwhelmed with such power and will these women have showed. I pray sincerely to spread the message and hope that fair justice (Justice is a long forgotten abused and clich├ęd word) will be delivered.


Vinutha N said...

Informative !Great to know about these indeed very strong women !
I am sure there are many women who are so strong from within. A few of them become the cynosure of the society and the count does not or shud not end there ! Its inspiring to look at women [ most of them below 40 ] who have contributed so much to put the country on the fast track . " male infested society " I think you were right at saying that . Most successful women acknowledge that BEING a 'woman' was the major challenge they had to face eye-to-eye to succeed ! N Wow , they did turn achievers :)
Nice post . keep it coming !

Saro said...

You know what's disturbing about women with success, they are perceived to have shattered the invisible glass ceiling of chauvinism.

My only question is, as a woman myself, is this perceived or is it real? And does it extend across income barriers, different professions, classes.

I mean, there has to be a difference in the level of difficulties that a poor woman of no education has to face, compared to one with high connections and natural expectation..when rising to the top.

And who's to say, what who has to face. And how much of it is real.

Not to put a downer, but ha ha just refusing to be too inspired by all these great women!

Adi said...

If your saying that women still haven't been given the recognition and the respect they deserve, your right.

But, is still don't understand why you should not be inspired by these women? Is it because the society itself will not recognise your work?

Saro said...

What I meant to say, adi was that sometimes, when we say women on top, a lot of times, we use it just use it on any woman who is successful. Where maybe, they had more opportunities available than the common woman. Like Indira Gandhi. Yes, she was a woman, but how many can really boast such heritage, wealth and opportunity.

So it's almost an overused, slightly unfair term. I can aspire to be the PM because Indira was a woman and she became one, but what 'real' chance do I have to make that happen?

Hence a majority of these women do not inspire me. They are success stories, for sure. They still had obstacles, but I simply do not feel that they could represent the common rags to riches... poor woman, rich woman binary.

Anonymous said...

If you wish to support Sharmila directly please write to her at Irom Sharmila Chanu, Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru I M S, Porompat, Imphal East, Manipur 795001. You have no idea of the depth of this woman of this mahatma. I have been writing to her now for nearly two years. I visited her in Manipur and realized that it is a police state but for someone like me with a british passport and money staffed by keystone cops. I will return. As I am one of the few men who do what she asks I will be bringing legal action against the blanket ban upon visitors made by the Manipur Home Ministry in 2004. She hopes to win all the different groups over by her satyagraha. My confrontational western approach is not her style. But being a mahatma she is patient with me also. She is inspiring. I was inspired by her long before I knew very much about her. The more I learn the more amazing I have found her to be.
My name is Desmond Coutinho I am occasionally referred to by the local press as an Indian Sex Spy sent to weaken her resolve. As I shall be fifty next year and am fast greying I have determined no longer to issue denials on the various rumours the local gangsters have spread. But I shall return and let them know advance dates. Because in the end they are the ones who are afraid, that's why they carry guns. And we are the ones who have all the power. But I shouldn't need to remind Indians of that.