I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say, “Because of you, I didn’t give up!”
If this is what you feel then you must read this article about Varanasi women. It is the time when women empowerment is at its peak. You would see various programs and people trying to bring about women empowerment but only a few are truly working towards this cause and attains success. Every woman wants to break stereotypes and shed all the chains tied around her feet. She wants to fly but something or the other is stopping her every time. The norms of the society, the weird Dos and Don’ts listed to her and the set of instructions given to her every day do not let her gather the courage to step up.
When you think about priests, you would imagine the figure of a man. The same was in Varanasi till the past few years. The women in these sectors are few but the numbers are increasing. The all-women Bhartiya Awam Party that was formed in 2013 now has 40,000 + members out of which only 10% are men.
Women in politics
In the past, the women used to stay only confined to their kitchens and other household works. They had no idea about politics and other important events happening in the country. Another example of women empowerment is the growing number of women stepping out of their houses to vote and the increasing number of women attending the political rallies and speeches of our current Prime Minister. The women of Varanasi now choose their leaders on their own and are not under the influence of any male members of the family.
Jamuna Devi in the sector of cremation
Cremating a body after death is believed to be the Hindu way of attaining salvation. If you have visited a cremation ghat or seen it in movies, you would have always found out men carry out the rituals. However, Jamuna Devi broke this stereotype and became the first woman on Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi to help in performing cremation duties. She belongs to a community that traditionally handles cremation and after the death of her husband, she initiated and sets this culture. She has now been doing it for over 35 years.
Panini Kanya Mahavidyalaya
This is a special school in Varanasi that lays emphasis on Sanskrit and Vedic Literature. This school is instrumental in breaking stereotypes. It is based on women sages, the students and teachers communicate in Sanskrit. Besides the modern academics, the teachers also teach complicated Vedic mantras in Sanskrit and their translations. The students become priests and earn their living in this unconventional way too.
Women Empowerment only happens when one will change their thinking, their mindset. Just like the women of Varanasi, there are many fearless women who are breaking the stereotypes set on them by the society and doing what they actually want to do. All you need to do is believe in your abilities. Your destination is not far away! There are even many NGOs like D-Foundation, Satyam Foundation, Guria Swayam Sevi Sansthan and many others that are helping in this cause. But only the collective effort of the society will bring actual women empowerment.
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