Don’t patronise us: FM’s Girls’s Day message

Aditi Tandon
Today News Online Service
New Delhi, March 8

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday delivered a powerful message on the occasion of International Women’s Day saying men must stop patronising women and terms of engagement between genders should not vary just because someone wears a saree and another suits and pants.

Addressing an event chaired by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to mark the day on Monday, Sitharaman called upon everyone to discourage the use of disparaging anti women references in various Indian languages.

“It is necessary for us to organise ourselves and stand up for the use of the right language for both formal and informal engagement. Most often without intending to harm, people make comments which are patronising. They don’t realise the implicit gender bias in those utterances made as humour. The language of communication has to be gender sensitive. In Indian languages there are ways to make women related references light heartedly, references like ‘choodiyaan nahi pehni hain’ that reinforce anti-women stereotypes. We have to gently ask for avoidance of such remarks,” said ther FM.

As someone who breached a male bastion to lead the finance ministry, Sitharaman said the terms of engagement for men and women leaders should not vary.

“I don’t want anyone to be more accommodative of me because I am a woman. I am an MP, you are an MP. Let us all be MPs. Similarly, talk to me like you would talk to male ministers. Terms of engagement should not change if I am wearing a saree and someone else is wearing pants and suits,” said the minister.

Acknowledging that she was a beneficiary of the 33 per cent reservation the BJP gave to women in party organisation, the FM asked: “We must probe ourselves and ask whether reservations would be all or whether we need to do something beyond that”,

Speaker Om Birla later said the percentage of women voters had constantly risen from the first General Election in 1952 until on Monday.

“This is a marker of the confidence of women and this helps strengthen democracy. It is also heartening to see that while the first LS had 24 women MPs, the 17th LS has 78 today,” said Birla.

Earlier Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said for women every day is women’s day.


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