“We are born of woman, we are conceived in the womb of woman, we are engaged and married to woman. We make friendship with woman and the lineage continued because of woman. When one woman dies, we take another one, we are bound with the world through woman. Why should we talk ill of her, who gives birth to kings? The woman is born from woman; there is none without her. Only the One True Lord is without woman” (Guru Nanak, Var Asa, pg. 473)
In this way women are described in the holy book of the Sikhs, the Siri Guru Grant Sahib. If we would look at other holy scriptures we would probably find many other references that express the great value and worth of a woman. Beautiful Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped by many to bring wealth and prosperity.
Whoever has followed the news recently knows, that sadly the reality is often very different. The horrible Delhi-rape case not only shocked a nation but the entire world. Of course these kind of things don´t happen only in India, but the brutality of this particular case had the effect of a wake-up call and raised the question about the treatment and safety of women in general. The day before yesterday, on Valentine´s Day millions of girls and women around the globe gathered in cities and villages to demonstrate against violence as part of a movement called “One billion rising.” Be it Berlin or Bangalore – thousands came together to share their message through dance.
Unfortunately girls and women are not only in a threatened position when it comes to their homes, families and marriages. Often the work place means another serious risk.
Young girls who end up in child labor are often victims of abuse and harassment, but also later this threat doesn´t end. Especially if working conditions are poor, there are no safety standards or ethical guidelines; women are often the ones to suffer most. There are sad cases of girls “being sold” to factories for a number of years to “earn” their dowry money.
That´s why our focus should be especially on the women: to improve their working conditions and also ensure safety and education for them. If we think of fair trade we should try our best to ensure, that women are treated well, that they are paid a fair salary (not less than men, often for the harder work!) and that they have access to various support.
As the quote from the beginning says: There is no one without her. Let´s remember that.
Hanna for The Soul of India