I find myself tuning into how I feel when I walk in public spaces and mostly the feeling is associated with being self-conscious and a need to answer the imaginary question justifying why I am there.

The need to justify one’s existence to another in public spaces commodifies existence in general but in certain scenarios, justifying one’s existence also brings up gender-based questions. Whereas public spaces in other countries have been the arena where race-based issues have played out, in India, playing out of gender-based stereotypes in public places is more common.

The choice of following a traditional gender-based role is now facing a transition. People now accept that traditional gender-based roles do not have to be followed. The status quo therefore is more accepting of women having careers, for example but also opens the pandora’s box where there is an increased tendency towards the compartmentalization of gender-based roles. Therefore, there is an underlying movement in society, which is disregard for the whole spectrum of roles associated with a gender and therefore, the aforementioned term of compartmentalization, in terms of gender-based roles comes under way. There is a need to understand the multi-dimensionality of roles that are associated with one gender that is foregone when acceptance of transcending the traditional gender roles is taken to the extreme.

(Reclaiming the public space. Credit: Femina.com)

(Women only. The metro in Delhi)

There needs to be an understanding that the process of empowerment and self-actualization occurs by embracing all parts of the female existence including her intellect as well as her child-bearing abilities. The benefits of embracing the entire female existence is that a woman is able to to encourage her natural and innate native intelligence abilities and in turn begin to acknowledge the knowledge base that her natural body wisdom offers. It is as if society in general has taken the role of making the choices on behalf of women via their projection of compartmentalization of gender-based roles and ignorance of multi-dimensionality of roles.

(A ladies only bus)

(More scenes from the metro)

The age-old question of whether there is free will is raised when one considers the extent of choice women have pertaining to the roles affiliated with their gender. To conclude, by accessing all her own resources first and not compartmentalizing the roles at her disposal, women will be able to embrace the the path of self-actualization that is less elusive.

(Elected women Panchayat representatives in Rajasthan)

(Women protesting)