Heaven of Freedom
A discussion on the true meaning of independence, and being an Indian woman.
Let us ask important questions, let us start difficult discussions and let us not shy away from uncomfortable truths. If each one of us can answer these questions, we will step onto the path of truth and freedom, and lead our country to incandescence.
Have we freed ourselves from patriarchal norms or comfortably swathed ourselves in them because of ‘tradition’? Have we empowered the women around us? Are our spaces equally accessible to all our people? Why do our women have to worry about their lives every single day? Why don’t our women feel safe outside, and in most cases inside their homes? How do we as a society expect to progress if we leave behind our members?
Are we truly free, in every sense of the term?
Every discussion about women in public places seems to revolve around one epicentre: safety. It is a matter of pity, nay shame, that a woman cannot step out of her house without fearing for her life. In this sense, then, is she truly free? If we are to go by Rabindrnathji’s words, ‘Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high - Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake’, there is a direct connection between fearlessness and freedom. When the women in our country live in a perpetual state of fear, how can they be considered free?
This means that when 75 years ago, India gained independence, only a part of its population was set free.
Women deserve and have the right to live fearlessly. Women must have access to public spaces not only in theory, but in practice too. Let this be our guiding mantra as we march forward and face the years leading up to a century of independence.
For the next 25 years, let us not stop until the women in our country are free to live full and equal lives.
Until they can stop shaking with qualms induced from the trauma of harassment. Until they are not reduced to lives of servitude. Until they are not seen as pawns of their ‘family’s honour’. Until they feel at home in their motherland. Until they can dream big and chase those dreams.
Until they feel every bit of the word ‘freedom’ in their bones.
Let us keep moving and keep empowering the women around us. Let us be able to celebrate in full measure the hundred years of our independence.