I’m a different sort of feminist. I’m the kind that likes a man to be a gentleman but also the kind that’s fiercely independent. I’m happy to let a man buy me dinner but that in no way implies I can’t actually pay for it myself. While I love my career and thrive on success, I’m also feminine and like dressing the part! I also look at the women I know that are nurturing children, juggling multiple roles, cooking for their in laws, holidaying with their husbands without a care in the world – and that are equally happy! Feminism doesn’t imply that you HAVE to work, it implies – according to me – that you have a choice to be who you want to be.

Abha Bakaya

What pains me is when I meet women in today’s fairly liberal 21st century that are still living by yesterday’s rules. This includes women who are afraid to express themselves, or matriarchs that punish their daughters or daughter in laws for making choices different to their own. It includes friends that judge each other for how much time we spend with or away from our husbands and babies. The biggest restriction to women’s rights is our own kind. When was the last time a colleague covered for you at work when your child was sick or you went for a night out with your friends and someone didn’t ask you, ‘Oh where’s your husband tonight?’ Since when are we joined at the hip!

Feminism is about having a choice

One of the major reasons women lack confidence in their own rights is financial independence. It’s not always about careers and making money. It’s about having something of your own – access to cash that is yours to spend as you like. I know women married to successful husbands who still work because they enjoy that autonomy. I know well educated women who are suffering fools because they lack confidence at stepping into the real world they have been away from for so long. It wasn’t a joke – one of the biggest recoveries of cash during the recent demonetisation drive was from housewives saving it for a rainy day! We are smart, smarter than we know.

The biggest restriction to women’s rights is our own kind.

It’s important for all of us to find and define our roles for ourselves. I have a lot of respect for the women that are role models within their home. They hold together a family, they offer support, love and their time unconditionally and that is incredibly precious. They protect, they persist and they are unfailing in their quest to be the perfect mothers, wives, daughters. Neither is a working woman any less because she chooses to devote her time to something she is passionate about, yes in that moment, maybe even more than her family. What she is doing is stepping out of her comfort zone and that is not easy.

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It’s not a fight among ourselves about what’s the right way. It doesn’t have to be a case of one or the other. I believe you’re a feminist if you know what you stand for, if you’re able to fight for yourself, to make a choice to be the best version of you. One way to do that is to work together as one, to help each other grow and not to judge each other for decisions we make. Respect, my friends, first starts at home.

Views expressed are that of the author’s.