Men should be encouraged to study home science in college and hone their culinary skills, while women should be motivated to take up physical education, especially martial arts, as an effort to banish gender bias from society.

– Sushma Swaraj, former Foreign Minister of India

This comment of Sushma Swaraj had created an uproar louder than one hears in the Parliament. This was the first time a prominent MP, holding one of the most important portfolios in the government had spoken about gender equality and the need for men to be part of women’s lives through the roles they perform, thus challenging patriarchy from the highest possible platform in the country. Mothers, wives and young women, who already considered her a remarkable woman, now saw her in a new light. That of a real person who talked of real issues that matter to women. Even men sat up and took notice, as this was a leader who was popular and respected beyond the constraint of gender. Swaraj managed to challenge stereotyping in Indian society with this one statement, the impact of which we will be carrying in our minds and hearts, hopefully for generations.

Sushma Swaraj on gender equality
Sushma Swaraj on gender equality

The former External Affairs Minister believed that it’s necessary for men to learn kitchen skills to ease the burden on women. She raised these issues at a meeting in 2o17 for National Policy for Women, and asked everyone to question gender stereotypes, starting with the gendered division of labour at home.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Former Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj passed away last night at the age of 67.
  • Swaraj once advocated that men should learn kitchen skills to ease the burden on women.
  • She also urged everyone to question stereotypes starting with the gendered division of labour at home.
  • As far as political empowerment is concerned, it is the real empowerment because it provides authority. – Sushama Swaraj.
  • On Women’s Day last year, Swaraj said that there was a need for India to take notice of women’s needs and demands.

Last year in July 2018, when Swaraj was still the Minister of External Affairs, she faced a lot of abuse at hands of trolls and some took a misogynist turn. One man tweeted to her husband, the former Governor of Mizoram, Swaraj Kaushal, that he should beat his wife when she gets back home and “teach her not to do appeasement”. All this hatred towards one of the most respected politicians in the country is a result of External Affairs Ministry’s action to grant a passport to an interfaith couple (who had allegedly applied with incomplete documentation) and transferring the official without holding a proper inquiry (after the couple claimed facing religious discrimination from him.)

Also Read: Sushma Swaraj passes away, remembered as India’s most friendly foreign minister

Kaushal, the ex-governor came forward in defence of his wife and criticised the hate she has been facing on social media. “Your words have given us unbearable pain. Just to share with you, my mother died of cancer in 1993. Sushma was an MP and a former Education Minister. She lived in the hospital for a year. She refused to engage a medical attendant and attended on my dying mother personally.”

“As far as political empowerment is concerned, it is the real empowerment because it provides authority.” – Sushma Swaraj

“ANDOLAN” MUST CONTINUE

Sushma Swaraj was no less feminist. She used her position of power to remind fellow politicians that women in India were on a movement and that the ‘Andolan‘ was now unstoppable. During a Women’s Day talk in the Parliament in 2018, she spelled out the need for India to take notice of women’s needs and demands. She hailed India for long having a female Prime Minister and President while developed economies were far behind. But she added, there was need to do more. And with political will.

ON WOMEN IN POLITICS

“As far as political empowerment is concerned, it is the real empowerment because it provides authority.” Swaraj said on political participation of women. This is something she had noted in 2012.

Also Read: Why Sushma Swaraj’s Exit From Union Cabinet Made Us Sad

“We have known IT professionals who hand over their salaries to their mothers-in-law or others who are abused. But a lady police officer’s women peon may not have to face all this as troubling her can lead the culprit to jail. This is political empowerment. For us women in politics, our authority moves forward to our women workers and empowers them.” – Sushma Swaraj

Addressing a BJP Mahila Morcha and Good Governance Cell, Swaraj in her eloquent style noted that women must have reservation in Parliament. “Without reservations in state legislatures or Parliament, women will not be proportionally represented.”

Swaraj hailed that in local bodies and panchayats of the states ruled by BJP governments, the reservation for women had been raised to fifty percent.

Also Read: What Sushma Swaraj Said At UN General Assembly Speech

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