The best part about flying through Heathrow airport is the opportunity it presents you to read the British newspapers. I absolutely love it. On my last trip a week ago, I used the time to devour the newspapers, page by page. The one big news debate in all the papers was about the "Sian Massey" incident. For the uninitiated, and that you will be if you don't follow English soccer, Sian Massey is an assistant referee in the English premier league. She is another one of those women to break the gender barrier and to gain a foothold in what has traditionally been a "men only" profession. But, the debate concerned how two Sky Sports commentators said something inappropriate about her, about women referees. The two commentators in question were fired from their jobs for this indiscretion. They learnt quite late that it was time to show her some respect.
That brings me to a topic that I have been thinking about for a while. Do we show enough respect to women in the workplace, in society? I don't think so. While much progress has been made, there is still the fear that single women have in a big city. Sometime back, I heard a woman friend remark that it was not safe to travel alone in the overnight train. I have sometimes, heard women colleagues murmur about harassment by some uncouth men in office or otherwise. And harassment is not always physical, it is the equally damaging emotional one. Why do some men think they can get away with it? Is it social conditioning? Maybe, but most times, it is the feeling of power, absolute power that one can get away with anything. Now, it is high time that changed in society. Being the father of growing daughters, I pray this world changes its attitude to women.
You don't have to look far back in history to see, that the society that respects women is always the one that prospers. You don't have to search too much in religion, to understand the importance of women, to understand the sacred feminine. In the Hindu tradition, it is not coincidence that intellectual, material and emotional well-being is governed by Goddesses, by the sacred feminine. Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga are symbolic, the message is much deeper. I personally grew up in a matriarchal society, my surname comes from my mother. I grew up in a world that sees balance in society through these norms, and I do hope this world sees that balance too.
It is time to throw out those testosterone induced views of the world to usher in the balance. Don't we realize that true balance in society can only be achieved by gender equality? When I came back from my trip this weekend, it was maybe again just coincidence that I found my elder daughter was preparing for her public speaking competition on gender equality. She finishes off her speech on equality in opportunity saying "So, boys, it is time to show us some respect. And girls, it is time to capture the world, in true equal spirit of competition". Well, I couldn't agree more. Show her some respect!!