Agra, 11.03.2017 (Anuja Jaiswal for The Times of India): Nari Shakti Puraskar Award winner Dr Laxmi Gautam from Vrindavan has started a social media campaign to demand equal rights for widows – #WeAreEqual – why use the word widow for us?
Dr Gautam said the word “widow” should not be used for women whose husbands have died, as its “discriminatory” and has adverse psychological impact on such women. “They should be treated with respect and not discriminated against because their husbands have died”, she said while launching her campaign at Vrindavan that coincides with World Women’s Day.
Talking to media, Dr Gautam said the word “widow” is “painful” and makes a woman, who is suffering from the pain of the loss of her husband, “ashubh” (unlucky). Advocating for a change in the mentality of people who discriminate against widows, she said the removal of this word would go a long way in ending the categorisation of such women, who are abandoned, left to fend for themselves after their husbands are dead. “They deserve the same and equal respect as other women,” she said.
Referring to the practice of disallowing widows from attending the marriages of even their own children, as they are considered “unlucky”, Dr Gautam said it is high time that this all is stopped. “Women whose husbands die continue to be mothers and sisters and discrimination against them is unwarranted”, she said.
Urging intellectuals to join her campaign to end this discrimination, Dr Gautam said her NGO, Kanak Dhara Foudation, would continue to work and fight for the rights of women who have been deserted by their families just because of the death of their husbands. She said presently her foundation is looking after 16 such women, who live in her house.
Notably, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has initiated a social media campaign – #WeAreEqual – targeted at raising awareness about gender discrimination. The campaign will culminate into the celebration of International Women’s Day marked by the prestigious Nari Shakti Award ceremony, in which the President will honour individuals and institutions for their exemplary contribution to women’s empowerment in Delhi on Wednesday.