Your courage, tenderness and ability to move through life while conquering challenges amazes us every day. Happy International women’s Day-2023 to all of you.
International Women’s Day is celebrated globally on March 8th every year to recognize the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This day also marks a call to action for gender equality and the empowerment of all women, highlighting the vital role of women in building a more equitable and sustainable world.
In 2023, we will celebrate International Women's Day with the theme "Equality for Women is Progress for All".
PHOTO- Courtesy: DISHA
Women’s power in ancient India:
In ancient India, women were involved in various fields, including politics, education, medicine, and art. The Rigveda, one of the oldest Indian scriptures, contains several hymns composed by women, highlighting their literary and intellectual abilities. Women also served as queens, advisors, and diplomats in ancient Indian kingdoms, and some even led armies into battle. Power of women varied depending on the region, religion, and social status. In some communities, women held high positions of authority and respect, while in others, they were subjected to patriarchal norms and restrictions. However, women played a significant role in ancient India’s social, cultural, and religious traditions, which can still be seen in modern-day India.
In Vedic Period:
Gargi Vachaknavi was a renowned woman scholar of ancient India. Born around 700 BC (according to history), she was the world’s oldest icon of feminism in ancient time. She was highly knowledgeable philosopher and expounder of Vedas. She was Brahmavadini, means a person possessing the highest knowledge of Brahman means [infinite intelligence]. Along with Gargi, Vadava Pratitheyi and Sulabha Maitreyi are among the prominent women scholars who figure in Principal Upanishads. They were highly knowledgeable in Vedas and Upanishads at par with men of the Vedic times and could very well contest the male philosophers in debates.
Some other names from Vedic and Upanishadic period are Aditi, Vapula, Apala, Lopamudra, Shrimati, Vedvati, Dharini, Romasha, Yami, Indrani, Siddha, Swadha. Famous Epic Ramayana mentions her talent in the intellectual discussions in the court of King Janaka. Also, we find Rishika Anusuya, who was an environmentalist at that time. With her intense efforts, she brought the ten-year drought in the forest to an end by channelizing river Ganges. Women of ancient times also received formal education in various fields, including medicine and astrology.
Prakriti as Shakti [ Nature as Divine feminine Energy]
In Hinduism, the concept of Prakriti as Shakti refers to the divine feminine energy that permeates the universe and is responsible for creation, maintenance, and destruction. Prakriti is the Sanskrit term for the natural world or the material realm, and Shakti is the creative power of the universe.
The concept of Prakriti as Shakti emphasizes the dynamic, creative, and transformative nature of the universe. Shakti is believed to be the force that gives rise to all things and is responsible for the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. She is also associated with the energy of consciousness and is believed to be the source of spiritual awakening and transformation. Through practices such as yoga, meditation, and devotion, one can connect with the divine feminine energy of Shakti and awaken the spiritual potential within.
Women still continue to be victims of abuse and violence and they are under continuous stress and anxiety.
Improved mental health: To reduce stress, modern women have embraced yoga as a popular form of exercise, stress relief, and mindfulness practice. Many women appreciate the physical benefits of yoga, such as improved flexibility, strength, and balance. They also find that regular yoga practice can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood and sleep quality, and promote overall well-being. Yoga can be a valuable practice for women of all ages.
Self-defence skills is another important requirement for women. Martial arts can provide women with the skills and confidence to defend themselves in potentially dangerous situations. Women who practice martial arts are better equipped to handle physical confrontations and protect themselves from harm.
Financial stability is crucial for women. Financial stability provides women with the ability to be financially independent and self-sufficient. It allows them to make decisions without relying on someone else’s financial support, which can be especially important in cases of divorce or the death of a spouse. Having financial stability, it provides women with the freedom, security, and independence to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.
Much remains to be done.
The world has made significant progress in advancing women’s rights over the years. Women have broken barriers, shattered stereotypes, and made incredible contributions to their communities and society at large. However, much remains to be done to ensure that women everywhere have equal opportunities and access to resources. Gender inequality persists in many parts of the world, with women experiencing various forms of discrimination, including unequal pay, limited access to education, healthcare, and decision-making positions. In some countries, women are still denied their basic human rights and subjected to violence and discrimination.
On this International Women’s Day, we must reaffirm our commitment to gender equality and empowerment.
Here are some steps we can take towards a more equitable world:
- Advocate for gender equality in all spheres of life – at work, at home, in politics, and in society.
- Support and amplify the voices of women from diverse backgrounds, including women of colour, women with disabilities.
- Invest in education and skill-building programs for women and girls to ensure that they have equal access to opportunities.
- Advocate for policies that promote equal pay, parental leave, and flexible work arrangements to support working women.
- Combat violence against women and girls by supporting survivors and holding perpetrators accountable.
- Promote women’s leadership and decision-making roles in all sectors of society, including politics, business, and civil society.
- Challenge gender stereotypes and norms that limit women’s potential and perpetuate inequality.
International Women’s Day 2023 provides an opportunity to celebrate the progress made towards gender equality while also recognizing the work that remains to be done. We must come together to promote gender equality and empower women and girls worldwide, recognizing that equality for women is progress for all. Let us work towards a future where every woman and girl can live to their full potential, free from discrimination, violence, and inequality.
Women do need support from women.
Women often face unique challenges and experiences that may be better understood and addressed by other women. Additionally, building relationships with other women can provide a sense of community, understanding, and belonging. Ultimately, when women care for one another, it helps to create a more compassionate and equitable society. It is important to recognize that supporting other women is not only beneficial to individuals but also to society as a whole. When women feel supported and empowered, they are more likely to succeed, which can have a positive impact on the community and economy.
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