Ahead of the International Women’s Day 2019, internationally acclaimed beauty expert, Shahnaz Husain has provided her perspective on this day that is to be observed March 8. The theme for International Woman’s Day 2019 is “Balance for Better.” In her writing, the Padma Awardee beauty expert, who is also known as the ‘Herbal Queen of India’ discusses on fashion, self-reliance, and empowerment of women, amongst other topics related to the day. Here is the article —
It is really very apt. “Better the balance; better the world.” Indeed, the world will be a much better place if we can bridge the gender gap and achieve equality. Let us continue to take steps towards an equal relationship between men and women; equal rights and equal opportunities. Despite the achievements of women in various fields, so much needs to be done. Each and every one of us can contribute towards this. Each woman can take action at the individual level, or collectively, in areas, like education, vocational training, skill development, as well as women’s safety and security. Make gender bias a thing of the past. We need to come together to help women move forward and realize their limitless potential. Start early. Value the girl child and give her equal opportunities. Indeed, a woman was created to bloom and blossom, establishing her own identity, her own colour, and fragrance. The way a neglected plant gets parched and dies a premature death so does the personality of a woman who is struggling to break through the shackles of social conditioning and gender bias, to achieve recognition of being a separate individual with her own identity. The change will be complete when society recognizes that it cannot benefit from preventing the emergence of the pearl from the oyster. So, let us strive for a better balance and a better world.
I believe that woman empowerment means financial independence and self-reliance for women. Education, of course, is the most important aspect.
Mahatma Gandhi had said, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate an entire family.” Yes, in a developing country like ours, the education of women is the need of the hour, especially in rural areas. In fact, education helps to highlight a woman’s strength and how much she can do to better the lives of her children. I believe that it would help to improve the quality of life of women in rural areas, paying particular attention to education and health care of women and children. In fact, I feel that special attention should be given to extra-curricular activities for girls and women in rural areas. An exercise and diet regime would help both mental and physical health. Great emphasis should be given to every mother to empower her financially and mentally so that she can educate the girl child of her rights and also inculcate the values of good health, nutritious diet, and education.
If women are encouraged to go out to work, the family can benefit from the earnings of two members. The quality of life of their children would definitely improve. I also believe that the development of skills and vocational training are very important for financial independence.
I have been committed to vocational training of the speech, hearing and visually impaired, through my free beauty training courses for them. We have also contributed to Government projects and trained 40,000 under-privileged women in the beauty and wellness business and given them free toolkits to carry out home businesses or to freelance.
Today, I feel proud that women have achieved so much. But we still have a long way to go. Woman empowerment is not just about one day in the year. It should be an on-going process so that each of us can focus on the areas that need change and do our bit. The woman has to realize her own potential and strength as an equal member of society. In fact, educated and self-reliant mothers can also bring about change in the mindset of society and teach their sons to honour and respect women.
Empowerment is also about women realizing that they should embrace change. Creating awareness is so important, drawing public attention to instances of injustices towards women. Educated women and professionals can work together to focus on issues – like literacy, learning of skills and opportunities for entrepreneurship, through kitchen and cottage industries. They can also participate in programmes on social issues and health care.
Changes cannot come from outside and by force. It has to come from within society. The change can be complete when society recognizes that the woman has a separate identity, her own dreams and ambitions and every right to fulfill them. To women, I also want to say “Believe in yourself and your own abilities. Keep learning. Do you dream of being successful? Don’t stop! It is important to dream. Then have the faith and courage to take the first step towards realizing the magic of your dreams.” Indeed, let each woman redefine her place in the world, giving it her own colour and fragrance. It would make this world a better place.