Harper's Bazaar March 2016 - Page 203

Leslee Udwin FILMMAKER As a woman, a global citizen, and a woman who has been raped, I have lost patience with a world that so callously ignores the continuing rampant inequality faced by women and girls. Rape, child marriage, sex selection etc are ‘merely’ the symptoms of a disease. The disease itself is a mindset that attributes less value, and in some cultures, no value, to girls. We teach children literacy and numeracy but not ethics, emotional intelligence, empathy, respect, gender-sensitisation, and moral values. We are educating their heads, but not their hearts. We will only change the world for the better, not just for women and girls, but for all humankind, by committing to the holistic education of our children. IMAGES: COURTESY DEVI ART FOUNDATION Rosalyn D’Mello If I could have one wish it would be for more Indian women to be irrepressible about their histories and AUTHOR their sexual narratives. I sincerely feel that is one of the more meaningful ways in which we can reclaim our individual and collective agency. For too long women in India have had their stories silenced, have had their voices repressed, have had to suffer being sidelined, relegated to the margins, have had their selfhood and identities trivialised. We need to speak out against all that is quietly oppressive; all the normative modes of behaviour we are expected to perform or confine ourselves to for the hypocritical satisfaction of a society that has heaped upon us immeasurable atrocities, insults, castigation upon castigation whenever we have chosen to speak up and be counted. I imagine it at first to be a secret revolution; one voice stacked upon another, and then another, and then another, until gradually the walls collapse and we unitedly invade the sphere of the public, make our presence felt in all intellectual and everyday discourse. We are the harbingers of wisdom. In our palms lies the future. I wish fo r more Indian women to recognise and acknowledge the vast realms of power and possibility nestled inside their beings; for more women to receive the grace of education, for more women to be touched by the waves of feminist thoughts and beliefs, and to realise, through their personal blossoming, the beauty and wisdom that always lay within their reach. I wish for more women to be visible; in queues at the security check at the airport or to take the metro, in more professions, at the top and not as token positions at the bottom or the middle installed for male convenience to validate some half-baked acclamation of equality. I’d like to see more women writers, artists, scientists, lawyers, professors, engineers, doctors, mechanics, aviators, bankers, physicists. I’d like to see bookshelves overflowing with fiction and non-fiction authored by women, more festivals that cater to their authors, so that it inspires more women to articulate themselves and to learn that their tongues are in fact the real thresholds, the most coveted gateways to freedom.  203