No 'Knights' for Indian Damsels in Distress: Our Politicians Need to Learn From Trudeau, Macron
NEW DELHI: Women in the India of today are helpless.
They await a knight in shining armor to rescue them from the throes of monsters who rape them and their children and leave them to rot while our leaders in even the highest echelons of power grapple with the issue of keeping the ‘better’ half of our population safe.
But physical safety, though the most crucial, isn’t the only kind of safeguarding women in our country yearn today.
When one is deprived of something they yearn, one looks across the room at the others who have what they don’t and can’t help but pray that their wheel of fortune, too turns in their favor.
In this case the room is the globe and the ‘others’ are our Canadian and French counterparts who have the two gems that are championing the cause of their women like the bosses that they are: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and freshly elected French President Emmanuel Macron.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 46 years of age has women not just in Canada but around the world swooning – and it isn’t just because of that charming smile. A self-proclaimed feminist, Trudeau changed the face of the archaic structure of Canada’s cabinet in 2015 - more than fifty years later when “they would make no effort to disguise the fact that they regarded me as a curiosity and stared whenever I could be seen”, lamented Judy LaMarsh, one of the first and very few female cabinet ministers in Canada’s history.
When Trudeau formed the first gender-balanced cabinet the country had ever seen, his simple response on being questioned about it was, “Because its 2015.” These really are the hard-hitting three words that should more than suffice today without even having to utter them anymore. But even in 2017 where we are today, this cause is only just gaining clout and that too, not everywhere.
At the Women in the World Summit in New York in April 2017, Trudeau delivered a poignant speech that illuminated his clear-hearted resolve towards the progression of women by stressing on the need for more men around the world to get involved and “become a part of the solution” too. He highlighted the benefits that Board diversity could garner and were lacking in places that were excluding the inclusion of new ideas and innovation that could be brought forth by women if their potential was tapped into instead of ignored.
When all one is used to hearing is the misogynist and demeaning rants from ministers in one’s own backyard who believe women are the cause even for the violence they are regularly subjected to and that “their place” is at home and in the kitchen, one can only be envious. Excelling in little else than the fine art of sexist deliveries, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s now infamous “Boys are boys” gem to “women should remain indoors after dark”, a view shared by too many to name all here, to the more recent and outrageous comments by Janata Dal Leader Sharad Yadav and BJP leader Vinay Katiyar continue to show us the highly ignominious and worryingly regressive mindsets that hold our women hostage.
My biggest concern is that it is always those in positions of power in our country that have such mind-numbingly regressive ideas that surely progress of any kind for not just women but our country would only result in dereliction and despair. When those like Sharad Yadav shamelessly declare that the honor of our daughters is less important than the honor of votes, the irony in our political make up lays bare, yet again.
On May 14, 2017, 39- year- old Emmanuel Macron won the highest seat of office in the country of France. Centrist President Macron, the youngest president in France’s history with his 69-year-old wife by his side, has also recently been ordained the “perfect flag-bearer” for women empowerment after selecting women candidates for half of the legislative assembly seats in the elections. On the attack on his sexual orientation owing to the large age gap between him and his wife, Macron hit back by calling out the homophobic nature of those who spread the rumors against him and condemned those sections of society that only want to view women as objects that have a certain place from where they should not move.
As it has been aptly pointed out, the age gap between Macron and his wife is the same between US president Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump. But Donald Trump’s leanings towards the matter of women and their ‘positions’ in society is best left at the mercy of the sharp claws of the social media stratosphere.
So yes, we women in India need such knights as Macron and Trudeau who see us for the powerhouses of talent, intelligence, resilience, importance that we are. For the value we can add to boardrooms, entrepreneurial startups, the digital revolution, the parliamentary set up, the courtrooms and emergency rooms. That we can be the tipping point for game changing industrial revolutions is not unfathomable.
That our bodies and our minds belong to us alone and just maybe deserve much more respect, encouragement, protection and cause-championing than the cows that have sent us all in a tizzy and shamelessly made murderers out of us in seconds while the murderers and rapists of our women roam our streets scot free every day.