Women can fight structural biases and prejudices by organising themselves, pointed out Aruna Sundararajan, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala.
She was delivering the international women’s day lecture on the ‘Role of Women’s Leadership in Empowerment’, organised by the Kerala Management Association on Thursday.
“Kudumbashree movement is a classic example of how the association helped fight gender biases. In the beginning, Kudumbashree had to encounter many hurdles. The women had to fight against a hostile male-dominated bureaucracy. But eventually, women learnt how to deal with bureaucracy,” she pointed out.
“Kudumbashree’s activities have challenged traditional patriarchy. The male members of the family were initially disturbed when women started going out. Some of them even called on me and raised complaints. But financial independence and a strong network helped women fight back,” he said.
She also narrated an incident when the Kudumbashree women belonging to a district in northern Kerala shook the male-centric world view by going to a movie at night.
“Around 16 women decided to go for a second show. After discussing the potential challenges, they went ahead with their decision. A woman, who was part of the team, told me that the experience altered her world view. She understood that women are entitled to enjoy the beauty of the night. When they reached home, their husbands were a bit uncomfortable. The women then told their husbands how they have waited for them late into the nights staying hungry and how it is not ethical to get irked,” she explained.
Women should also assert themselves and use their agency to publicly register their opinions.
“Assertion should not be violent, disrupting harmony. It should be cautious,” she said. The senior bureaucrat also noted that sensitive men played equal roles in addressing issues that affect women. KMA president S R Nair presided over the meet.