Good news for women is always considered to be either related to an update about their marital status or motherhood status. Everything beyond that is perceived as fluff. Why do we limit women within restricted boundaries of what success can mean for them? Why don't we expand our perceptions to include life goals beyond the conventional one patriarchy has set out for women?
The concept of what 'good news' implies is rather funny actually, since the world around us is hardly ever so objective. Someone's good news can be another person's bad news. Imagine a sexually active woman who is not looking to get pregnant anytime soon. One fine day, the stick tells her she is positive. Will it be a happy moment for her? Society would expect her to say yes and embrace this ultimate 'duty' of every woman with positivity. But should she?
Why can't we accept that each of us abides by different sets of values and ambitions? This means that what is good news for a woman can be a bad one for another, and she has every right to feel dejected if that "news" derails her plans for the future.
To change things, we can start by altering what we view as good news for women. Let's step aside from motherhood and marriage for a bit - although these two too are equally valid choices and denote independence in their own regard - to see what else makes women genuinely happy.
Good News For Women... Can Mean All These Things:
1. Her first salary
In India, daughters are hardly ever taught to be financially independent, to manage their own expenses, to learn the ropes of investment or banking. Money matters are pushed into the background as domestic chores take centre stage for girls. Why don't we teach women the worth of earning their own money? That the feeling of holding that first paycheck, earned through their own hard work, is unparalleled?
2. The first time she fixes her car
Tasks considered heavyweight - like lifting or fixing - are usually assigned to men, since society expects them to be stronger purely on basis of their gender. The more feminine, dainty jobs - like stitching or cooking - are handed to the women. And so, into our gendered boxes, we go! Is it not time to break these stereotypes associated with jobs and capability? Cooking, being able to change a car tyre are all essential life skills and every person should know them. Thus when a woman changes her own care tyre, it feels liberating, because she knows, she does not depend on a guy for a simple chore anymore.
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3. The day she completes her PhD
Academics are no more solely associated with men ever since women have broken the glass ceiling and have paved a way for others in their sisterhood. Even so, higher studies remain dominated by gendered divisions in India. Families send their sons across state and national borders to get good educations that will set them on paths of success. Daughters, meanwhile, are left to deal with a choice between marriage, household and career, with the proverbial biological clock ticking overhead. Let's level the playing field in education for men and women!
4. If she chooses to come out
The LGBTQIA+ community in India remains among the most marginalised, still devoid of basic fundamental rights that allow them to live freely. So it's a day of release and affirmation when a queer person chooses to accept or shares with the world their sexuality. This could be anyone, somebody conforming to gender, or one who is non-binary. Wouldn't this be an important day to mark, for them - the day they can finally live out loud and proud?
5. The day she gets a partner who believes in equality
Women are taught to look for husbands, not partners. Since childhood, we're conditioned into gender roles that would necessarily require us to conform to norms of ">marriage, a seeming duty of a woman by birth. But are we telling our daughters to seek out partners who believe in equality, who will support our dreams, who will back us in the face of sexism? When or if a woman finds such a partner for herself, it would be a day to truly rejoice.
Views expressed are the author's own.