‘Sustainable Tomorrow’ On the wobbly grounds of today?
   Date :09-Mar-2022

By Biraj Dixit :
 Just like that  
The festivities were over as soon as they began. It was just a day and like all days it had its sunset. The idea, though, must remain. In babysteps and leaps, the march should continue. International Women’s Day: A celebration, a recognition, an attempt to bridge the gap, an effort to undo wrong, or just flowing with the stream of ‘seemingly right’?!? March 8 was all about celebrations as it should have been. The world again paid wholesome tribute to the entity called ‘woman’. Greetings were SMSed, social media was again abuzz, organisations fulfilled their duty and felicitated each and every woman who came their way, songs were sung, eulogies written, women’s greatness advertised and heavy discounts offered. Society again cajoled its women. Again, a once-in-a-year exercise entertained! It was an occasion to celebrate and we all celebrated. Any serious pondering might have killed the joy, so we just rejoiced. Swinging between real service, lip-service and disservice, we again celebrated International Women’s Day. But the ritual is over now and we collect its pieces. With gifts have been marveled upon, now is the time to gather the bits of the wrappers to be thrown away, cards to be put aside, and gifts to be neatly put in the huge see-through almirah. Later sometime, we can open the almirah, dust it clean, smile for a while and put those back again in the see-through almirah – a drink for the heart indeed, if not food for thought!
Sometimes, celebrations bare realities more forcefully than they hide. Though a kill-joy, thoughts inadvertently play a second innings and bring the core to the surface. In all fairness, the fair sex, had, has, and will have quite a fair share in making of the world. These celebrations, if anything, are overdue. For women themselves, there is a lot to celebrate. For, they have broken many a shackle and are picking pace in the march towards a fair society. Their achievements are many and they deserve applause. As do all those who stood by them – men, societies, circumstances. Today, they are much stronger than ever before. Indeed! However, hardly ever has their story been about strength. They always had it. In isolated events of history, they also enjoyed a position of strength. But a universal level-playing field is still a far-off dream.
For, that field exists in minds. Minds, where the fairer sex is inevitably the weaker sex; where the playfield has steps with some on the top, some at the bottom. And while societies, in their quest to become truly civilised, covered this playfield with many carpets of velvet, the ground below has remained wobbly. When viewed, a smooth surface greets you, but walk on it and you’d know the difference. And women being women, the intention is to walk the full mile. You might say we have come this far, only a few steps remain. Indeed. If the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day “Gender Equality Today For A Sustainable Tomorrow” is any indication, we indeed have come a long way, talking of ‘sustainable tomorrow’!?!. But now look around, that carpet of velvet which covered the shaky ground has been removed. The recent events have shown how quickly the empowered can become the very vulnerable again. A powerful Russia has invaded a not-so-powerless Ukraine.
The battle’s on, on the world’s watch. The war is in the series of wars happening in a world that had, many decades ago, promised to free itself from the scourge of war. But like most diplomatic promises, words travelled leaving intentions behind. And so here we are in a free world, largely abiding to the principles of democracy where human rights are most valued, witnessing a war yet again. Men, women, children fleeing a war zone to life and safety of a refugee camp is an often-repeated story of our wedded-to-the-idea-of-peace-and-prosperity in modern times. In these modern times, we have also seen Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar, Yemen, Ethiopia etc, etc. It is generally agreed upon that the biggest casualty of war are women – murdered, raped, violated, displaced, left to suffer in any which way. Pushed either out of their own homes or from the homogenous conditions that they were used to, when will women of these countries find a level-playing field when they do not even have a ground to stand on? Of course, together we must dream of a ‘sustainable tomorrow’ taking larger strides in establishing ‘gender equality today’ to achieve it. But one look at the real world and this dream seems laughable.
All it takes for our years and years of hard work and toil to smoothen the ground beneath is for one power-hungry despot to crush it with his army. In this well-carpeted world, the playfield of mind still is all about force and control and being on the top of staircase. A ‘sustainable tomorrow’ cannot be built on such shaky ground. It will need much stronger foundation. The dichotomy of our situation is as laughable as the predicament of a person who wishes to cross the threshold yet is fearful of putting his foot forward. Stuck he is. Stuck are we. So, the next time we take upon ourselves to smoothen the surface beneath our feet, we must also cement it with promises kept -- in word and intent. n