What better time to write about women and their empowerment, but during Dussehra? This festival celebrates the power of woman: subtle and strong, benevolent and ruthless, protective and destructive, all at the same time.
This Dussehra, The Broken Scooter brings you stories of a few women, among many, who have reached great heights and brought about a change, something that marks the beginning of a new era of women empowerment.
Odisha, primarily the ‘Oriental’ state, has seen great changes in the status of women over the past few decades. What is perennial though is the fact that empowerment holds different meanings at different strata of the society. For a woman, empowerment is not just the extra bucks; it’s not just the bank balance and escapes from domestic drudgery, it’s all about self-reliance, liberation, sense of pride and courage to fight social injustice.
Women of Odisha have achieved accolades in all fields of life spanning across, academics, sports, culinary skills, reality shows etc.
Today, let us sneak into a few pages of the beautiful notion: “Women can fight stereotypes”.
Pooja Mishra, the 19-year old who brought fame to Odisha as a model and actress, has received the Rajya Puraskar award in scouts and guides. She is a trained Odissi dancer, a state-level basketball player, and also a social worker. With the passage of time, Pooja realized her love for modelling. In January, this year, Pooja won the Miss Odisha award. She was also the finalist of FBB Femina miss India 2016 and won the title, Rabbler Miss Popular Miss India 2016. The India-Maldives Friendship event which was organized by the Union ministry of youth affairs and sports carried with them a delegation of 45 youths and five officials from the whole country where Pooja Mishra was chosen as the lone representative from the state. In a candid tete-a-tete with TBS, Pooja shares a beautiful message for all women out there. “Women need to stand up for their rights and raise a voice against any injustice that is meted out to them. Education could help better the situation of gender inequality in the society and contributes her share of time and efforts for the same.”
What’s disturbing is despite being a woman of such talent, Pooja has also faced gender discrimination. Being the only child of her parents, Pooja faced ridicule for being a ‘Girl-Child’. However, her parents have always been supportive of her and seen her as a son as well as a daughter.
From the modelling industry, we now move to Diksha Tiwari, who is a prominent Radio Jockey. Diksha started working as a journalist at the age of 21, with The New Indian Express. Stage shows and TV too happened and since then Diksha has been freelancing as a journalist, a TV anchor as well as an emcee doing regular shows while also being the consultant senior associate editor to two magazines, one in Bhubaneswar (My CityLinks) and another in Gurgaon (DLF City News). For Diksha, the biggest motivation has been the desire to move out of Bhubaneswar and explore the world. Diksha states, “I started working at a young age and could not pursue higher studies. But I am grateful that despite being just a graduate, I have been able to come so far in life with my hard work and sincerity. “Minor hiccups have been there, yes but I tend to ignore them because the blessings showered by God have been much more.” Talking about gender discrimination, she expressed that gender discrimination is a mindset, more than anything else.
Somehow the society perceives and creates its own opinion about women. When a woman climbs up the ladder too soon, her hard work and sincerity is overlooked but eyebrows are raised at her quick success. But put a man in the same situations, he is either hard-working or a fun-loving with a zest for life. So, the society has a preconceived notion about men and women. That is where the problem lies, Diksha concludes.
Achievements of Odia women are not limited to just a field or two. We also have eminent poetess, Pratibha Satpathy, who has been writing poetry since she was 12. She accepts that earning money through poetry is tough. But her family supported her dreams and that kept her moving. Even she is of the opinion that only women can change their own circumstances. She opines that change of outlook of family and society will improve the status of women and not any law. She too has faced discrimination but her confidence never shattered. She advises the women saying, “I always encourage women to face situations of harassment with courage as it is not their fault. I praise families, though a few, who accept tortured girls.” She sends a beautiful message for her readers and loved ones. “If human beings practice love and respect and think women as a part of themselves, then respect and honor for women can prevail.”
Rajasmita Kar, the fame of Dance India Dance, has been a very pivotal stepping stone in the field of women empowerment. She has shown us how small town girls, with enough determination, can effortlessly win the world. She believes that mass media plays a very vital role in women empowerment and it is essential that there is growth of the same in rural areas, where the situation hasn’t changed much for women.
“The change cannot be brought by someone alone. It is important that everyone comes together, but it is equally important that everyone individually contributes to the cause.”
Odia culture is no longer restricted to the territorial boundaries anymore. One such artist who put Odisha on the global map is well-known Odissi and Chau-dancer, Ileana Citaristi. Talking about patriarchy and gender-discrimination, she expressed, “The situation is different from Country to Country. If we talk about India, definitely I see a much more confidence and empowerment in a woman’s life style if I compare it to 30 years ago when I first reached India.
Roles of women in society are much more prominent and slowly the gender discrimination is giving place to more equality among sexes.” Her message for her fans and readers is a simple, yet enigmatic one: “We should continue to be ourselves and not to be frightened or diverted from our aims whatever reaction this may create in the environment around us.”
We, at TBS, believe that each of the members of the society should pave way for women to fly higher, live independent and above all, feel lively. Because, who doesn’t want a land of Goddesses?!
[Author: Ipsita Pattnaik]