Let's Make Our Daughters Free and Happy - Bhanumathi Narasimhan

Posted on: Sunday, January 25, 2015

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Every woman has within her the right blend of strength with grace, courage with compassion, abundance with values and wisdom with vision. In her lies the seed for the most profound social transformation. However, it is important to nourish and nurture this seed through proper education, nutrition, physical, mental and emotional well-being.

The Indian tradition honours both men and women as equals in all aspects of life since ancient times. This has been expressed as Ardhanarishwara, where the Divine is depicted as half-male and half-female, indicating that they are equal partners in the protection and sustenance of Creation. Even at the cellular level in our body, each one of us has genes from both the father and the mother. For a healthy, progressive society, we have to respect women and honour the role they play. It is unfortunate that in the country where women are worshiped as the mother divine, we are faced with challenges of female foeticide, lack of education and violence against women.

India has one of the worst girl child mortality rates in the world today. The neglect of healthcare for the girl child is the most direct influencing factor. A girl child ends up waiting much longer when she is sick before being taken to the doctor than the male child. Even if she escapes foeticide, there are several statistics that show lower levels of immunization and nutrition for girls than for boys.

Sexual abuse of children is an unspeakable horror, yet a reality we are faced with. Lack of education for over 50% of the women is another huge challenge. These issues should not be looked at merely as a women's rights issue. If women do not feel respected and safe, the very fabric of society is torn apart. It is a human rights issue, and both men and women have to stand up together to fight against this injustice, and come up with solutions.

We need to take responsibility for the happiness and right to education of the girl child. Today, social values are degrading because women, girls are not treated properly. There is disparity in every field today. This outlook has to change. The voices of women have to be heard. We cannot be complacent about this issue. A proactive attitude is much needed. When women are not respected, it affects humanity in totality.

As a mother, sister, friend, wife – in all roles, women have to ensure that values are upheld. To enable women to do this, they need to receive the proper value-based holistic education at the right time. They need to be taught how to deal with negative emotions and stress. When the lady of the house is stressed, the mother is stressed, then it reflects on the whole house and in her children. On the contrary, when she is confident, well established and with a broad vision, she passes on these qualities naturally to the children. There is a saying that the man is good because his mother made him so. She can instil values. Now is the right time. We must inculcate human values and positive qualities in our children from the grass-roots levels to the top strata of society. We must give the children solutions and a direction instead of just saying "don't do this".

In the past few months several incidents brought to light by the media have brought an awakening in society that has spurred the quest for a solution. We may not be able to change the past but we have to learn from it and take positive steps to eradicate such heinous crimes. Spirituality is the clear answer to this. It is the basis for both physical and mental health. Each one of us needs to come to the forefront and take responsibility to re-establish a caring and sharing attitude, a sense of belongingness, a commitment to serve – the core spiritual values that are the basis for a healthy, happy and harmonious society. This is a necessity now, if we really want our daughters to be free and happy.

Bhanumathi Narasimhan is chairperson of the International Women's Conference, and director of Women and Child Welfare programs of The Art of Living.

Source: DNA

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