With barely 90-odd days to herald 2020, I hope to upload as many words that I have ‘arranged’ over the years, both as a writer and teacher, all in one space. Perhaps my swansong….who truly knows?
I belong to the fraction of women in India with privileged upbringing. We have had opportunities that are not available to most citizens and which our grandmothers could not have even dreamed of. Nineteen years into the 21st century, we all have, what I will term, ‘social standing’ at varied levels – in Media, in Education, in the Corporate Sector, in Government, in Protocol – and perhaps at home, too. We are followed on Facebook, Twitter and Social Media, some to an extent that defies belief. We may be trolled or stalked or abused online but that has not deterred us in our efforts to voice our opinions. This is a new trend.
I hope to underscore the problems faced by the elderly here in India, especially women who are bereaved. I also need to discuss, even argue for or against suggestions on schemes of work that will, in fact, be acceptable in our society, to help in the safe rehabilitation of women in distress. This includes rural India, in places many of us fear to live in for extended periods of time, though not tread in, and please do pardon the clichéd use of a familiar Book title.
Despite our laws, discrimination prevails across definitions. We continue to witness to honour- killings, dowry-harassment, abductions, often leading to loss of life. We are aghast at the practice of sex-selective abortion and communal violence and the aggression of the mobs, against each other, Indians and foreigners. Controlling and coercive behaviour at the workplace and in the home continues. So how may we bring about change? How may we help women in distress, to begin with? They need regular income, shelter and safety. If we begin and help just one woman over time, then yes, we may term this progress.
Over thirty five years ago, there was a young woman of 28 who went from pillar to post seeking employment. She had just left a traumatic environment and was fortunate to have loving parents who brought her and her two little daughters, barely 3 and 5 years old home. With an ‘A Grade’ (first class) Master’s Degree in English from Delhi University, she was called for interviews at her almer mater, and many other colleges of repute. No, she did not ‘qualify’ for any position, as she could not answer one particular question “What have you done for these past 7 years? She froze, unable to utter the words to describe those years – that she was physically abused, periodically; that she was often unable to finish all the domestic chores daily in time to venture out of the house, find work and face the world. That storyline is for another day . Domestic violence was not spoken about those days. No #OrangeTheWorld. But I will mention some of the people who helped her – ME – find her feet, as it were – my family, my late husband of thirty years, and dear friends. I can express my words before you today, because of the strength I gained from their support. But, may I add…….only half-in jest, that I blew a career to smithereens by re-marrying in December 1986 and became a circumspect trailing diplomatic spouse…..an ‘interrupted academic’, in my view!
My past is why I needed to host this blog and other interactive discussions at events, soon after I turned 60 a few years ago. I have called the journey “Help Her Walk Forward”. This is not meant to be condescending or disparaging at all. There is always HOPE.
We have facts and figures with extended research done on these issues. We have been made aware of strides made in welfare schemes. Two welfare schemes that interest me and that I will begin to work on are Condensed Courses of Education for Adult Women and the Awareness Generation Programme.
Can we realistically bring about change at every level by 2030?
UN Women wants Planet 50-50 by then.
Thank you again, for being here and reading my words – a small personal attempt to raise awareness, through tales and experience and hopefully, encourage others to action. I hope the phrase ‘Help Her Walk Forward’ will strike a chord and evoke reactions!
Jayshree Misra Tripathi lived a nomadic lifestyle from 1986 till 2015, as the wife of a career foreign service officer in the Indian Civil Service. She has written from across three continents – as a freelance journalist, poet and chronicler. Jayshree followed up her MA in English (Literature) from Delhi University (1978), with a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Rights Law from the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru (Distance Education programme, 2001). She has taught English Language and Literature, been an examiner in English for the Diploma of the International Baccalaureate Organisation and was their trained Consultant. Her collection of poetry, Trips and Trials: A Selection of Poems and Songs, was released in December 2018 by Pepperscript Publishers. What Not Words, a short story collection set in India and the Diaspora, is available on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing and will soon be available with Authorspress in India; her earlier works include The Sorrow of Unanswered Questions (The International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka; 2001). Jayshree has also written for children, with a collection, Tales in Verse from India for Children Everywhere (Pothi Publishers), now available on Amazon KDP. Her Folk Tales from her home state of Odisha appeared in Amar Chitra Katha in December 2018.
Jayshree has taken part in a Tata Literary Meet in Bhubaneswar, in 2018, moderating a session with Volga, Anita Ratnam and Samhita Arni. She participated in The Fairway Galle Festival, Sri Lanka, moderated sessions at the Kalinga Literature Festival, Bhubaneswar and the Valley of Words Literature & Arts Festival, Dehradun. Jayshree also conducted a workshop session for children at Bookaroo, in Delhi.
Participation continues in 2019 !
She continues in raising awareness on adult literacy and women helping women, with #HelpHerWalkForward.