We The Women: On International Women’s Day

THE International Women’s Day which is celebrated on the 8th of March every year has evolved over the years in different ways. Beyond the world of consumerism which tokenises on this day in forms of discount coupons, hallmark cards and many freebies; there are still issues that permeate the lives of women across the world.

Here, in Kashmir, women are at the intersection of different identities and each of these brings new challenges to women everyday. All women in Kashmir navigate through the challenges thrown at them by conflict in innumerable ways. Similarly, our class and caste positions also put hurdles in our way to live fulfilled lives. A majority of women in Kashmir are Muslim, which is in itself a challenge in the times of global islamophobia. Sisters from other faiths go through the challenges that come with their matrix of identities as well.

In our society, women face many stigmas and challenges. These are both private as well as political. However, despite all odds, Kashmiri women exemplify grit and grace.

They’re torch bearers of all that Kashmir stands for and are always marching with excellence in every field they embark on. The mothers and grandmothers of Kashmir have played a cardinal role in all the good that our land has been blessed with and have proven to be strong pillars of support. Their daughters have aced all odds and are the best Home Makers, Entrepreneurs, Farmers, Fisherwomen, Domestic Helps, Journalists, Academicians, Doctors, Engineers, Activists, Religious Guides, Teachers, Bankers,  Pilots, Influencers, Radio Jockeys and Entertainers.

Today, we celebrate all our women. The daughters, the wives, the mothers, the working women but also the single women, single mothers, divorced women, home makers and everyone else who is struggling but not without giving a tough fight

On the event of International Women’s Day, we asked our readers to answer two of our questions. Here, we have reproduced some of the responses:

As a Kashmiri Woman, what positive changes would you like to see in our society related to women? 

How well a society treats its women is one of the strongest indicators of the success and health of that society. Obviously, the rights of individual women and girls to enjoy equal social status with men and boys needs no further justification: population activists everywhere should support improving the status of women and girls as a stand-alone, non-negotiable ethical imperative for human development. Tweet by @MemoirofKashmir

Women should be seen without the myopic lense of gender and that women be respected as people first. Tweet by @Gulelaala 

Property distribution. Women should get their due share as per sharia laws which is not the case most of the times. Tweet by @Aubaid_

As a society, we are very patriarchal and for changing it, we could start the transformation right from our homes by raising both boys and girls in a similar manner. This is the inception of change that would empower not only women but eradicate the evil social practices too. Tweet by @zeenishimroz 

That conversations (however uncomfortable) about demanding domestic labour, in which women toil away, alone, and all their lives, should start in our homes. Tweet by @Ceema_b

Treat your patients with respect esp in OB-GYN. Women have not sinned to show up at the hosp with heavy periods or heavily pregnant. Leave judgements and bias outside the examination room.

Stop mourning the birth of daughters. Shame the family that does this. Don’t normalise the boam/misery that befalls a family on a second or third girl child.

Make getting sanitary supplies look less Criminal than acquiring drugs on the street. The brown paper wrap is a shame.

On a general note push more girls into STEM fields. Teach them that financial independence is more important than centring crucial decades of adulthood on finding a match. Being a subservient wife is ideal & all but there is more to life than ending up as just a glorified maid

Understand that patriarchy is self perpetuating. Educate yourself. Refrain from using language and swear words deeply misogynistic. Be conscious of internalised misogyny. Women in Kashmir suffer ways unique to our state.

Lastly, if you claim To be feminist but bring down each other publicly, on SM, maybe even fairly, you are just encouraging the ill-taught men that it is okay. Be kinder to each other. Fight your fights in private. Practice solidarity,build a safe sisterhood. Tweet by @Blacksabbtth

Stop expecting women to behave a certain way during the wedding and after it, just as we advocate the same for marriages. Kashmiri women may and do want simple, private weddings and do not want to dress up and put up a show for the groom’s family for 7 days straight! Tweet by @Binti_Zia

To listen to our opinions, see us as an equal when it comes to business and not think of us as someone who can only do household chores. Tweet by @fordkalypso

More female entrepreneurs who’d eventually generate jobs and empower more women with a safe environment to work in kashmir. Tweet by @Zeyan Shafiq 

Stop those gold exchanges  and kokar majme etc . Women don’t need to wear a lot of gold at their wedding, they don’t need to change the way of dressing after marriage, it should be her choice at what time she wants to have a baby. Elderly women should stop interfering in ones personal life. Tweet by @Umaima 

Opening the discussion to Kashmiri men 

What positive changes would you like to see in our society related to women?

They should be given their share of liberation and freedom which has been systematically snatched from them from times immemorial. Tweet by @raatemugul 

Freedom to travel in local transport without the fear of getting harassed and freedom to walk alone on the road without the fear of facing the wrath of predatory cars slowing down every time they say a women walking alone. Tweet by @EjazAyoub 

Treating divorced people as normal human beings capable of remarrying. It’ll help people escape abusive marriages without thinking that they’d be viewed as ‘damaged goods’. Tweet by @Gowhar

We need to recognise the systematic abuse that women have been subjected to historically. we need to acknowledge all of it without any strings ,that’s a stepping stone . This is how we can start our conversation without it all efforts are meaningless.

Opening up public spaces for women particularly Masajids. There must be women entry from the front door not back door to make a deep psychological point.

Knowing our history how the greatest Islamic scholars were taught by women. Giving up casual sexism , misogyny because that’s a reflection of what’s inside of us. Don’t be a mute spectator if you witness abuse of any shape or form be it on campuses,public transport,spaces or at home. Speak up! Tweet by @Rasik Parray

Acknowledgement of the fact that patriarchy exists and must be smashed. Subsequently, women must have equal and significant say in religious and socio-political domains. Lesser mansplaining. Avoiding sexist language. Tweet by @tabakhmaaz_stan

Don’t put the burden of sacrifice for respect and honor on the shoulders of females. Tweet by @Kabwrites

Periods are normal so normalise periods. even today, certain women have to pretend they’re fasting during Ramadan when they’re not. Tweet by @raeeskashmir_

We should all follow sunnah. Tweet by @Muhammad Arif 

Say No to dowry – It’s a blot on our society where we demand dowry without any hesitation, especially in rural communities. An old social evil in our society which is only increasing by leaps and bounds & saddest part is that most of us willingly  participate in this race. Tweet by @XShooter0

Men should stop believing that they are superior to women. Treating women as human, overcome the bias of centuries, equal pay for equal work, the prejudice that women are weak(physically/mentally) has to be discarded. Tweet by @sameem 

Views expressed in the responses are the reader’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer 

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