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What freedom means for a woman in the 75th year of our Independence



By Madhu Mishra

It’s true that change is the law of nature. And this is applicable to society as well. However, social change isn’t usually uniform in every society. In most societies, it occurs so gradually that it often goes unnoticed by its members. 

There was a time when the birth of a girl child in the family was considered to be inauspicious and its manifestations included regressive customs such as child marriage and Sati. Girls were not allowed to go to school and get an education and enjoyed little freedom of choice.

Compared to those regressive years, our society has witnessed a number of changes in the social milieu since. But something that hasn’t changed is the rigid, traditional, superstitious or conservative thought process of certain members of society. Some of them still believe a cat crossing their path brings bad luck. Others declare that menstruating women cannot enter a temple. Why should that be so? Talking about women, even though they have the right to make choices, if they speak up loud and clear, certain individuals consider them to be disrespecting social norms. The expectation is to be docile and gentle and be a perfect daughter, wife, mother, or a woman.

Arguably, society governs how women should behave, what they should wear and the kind of work they choose. Why are only women responsible for their child’s upbringing? 

So, what does freedom mean to a woman?

 For women, freedom doesn’t mean celebrating Independence achieved from colonial British rule. Freedom means so much more for a country and its women, as we move forward. 

For a girl or a woman, freedom must mean being at peace with herself and not feeling guilty or shameful of certain things just because they do not fit into societal norms. It means living freely on her own terms after she turns 18 as well as getting encouragement from family and society to learn new things.

We live in a democratic society in which every individual has the freedom of speech and expression. And this must be applicable to both men and women.