“When you’re happy, confident, appreciated and encouraged, it makes me deeply happy. And I’m not ashamed to say that it is so because I’m a girl.”
You’re in your first year of college. Or are you in the second? the third? the fourth?
I heard that you’re from a small town and you’re a long, long way from home. Then again you could be from a roaring city. I wouldn’t know. I’ve only known you from afar.
When I address you today as a complete stranger, you might wonder what you could possibly take away from this monologue. I don’t know if you live your life as if you’re trudging your way through a battle field, or if you’re celebrating each moment for all that it’s worth.
I can’t say that your life is easy or hard. I can’t say that it’s a learning curve that I’ve ever traversed in parts. You see, I wouldn’t want to offer a grotesque generalisation of your circumstances and your choices. You must be very different from me, very much unlike the girl next to you.
But I’ll tell you one thing.
When you’re happy, confident, appreciated and encouraged, it makes me deeply happy. And I’m not ashamed to say that it is so because I’m a girl. You’re a girl who’s looking at the world with curiosity. You’re meant to do wonderful things. It will be truly amazing. But like all stories that are filled with hope and substance, yours too will have its fair share of roadblocks and up-hill battles. Not just a few .
And sometimes- unfortunately- it will be because of your gender.
Maybe you’re one of those privileged few who has not been subject to the injustices of a world that looks through a lens of gender. But whether or not you are, if any one of us here has had to behave a little differently, a little cautiously, a little subdued because of fear, or discomfort, or disrespect, would you not empathize? Would you not pause to consider?
It’s ‘bout time.
You know… there’s nothing wrong in calling ourselves a community! And there’s nothing wrong in thinking out loud about how safe, secure and comfortable our surroundings are. It’s simple, really. I only dream of a world where…
You are safe
This campus needs to address what you can do if, at any point in time, you don’t feel secure in your surroundings due to unwanted advances or other forms of undesirable behavior or if your privacy is compromised.
You are valued
Like anybody else, you need to be valued for your abilities in any avenue that you decide to pursue. You must not be ridiculed or disregarded in your pursuits without a valid reason. We can’t demand value if we don’t appreciate it ourselves. As young girls in STEM, we must encourage each other to make the best out of our education and be leaders of our own making.
You are respected
You deserve to be treated with dignity irrespective of how you look, how different your life style is or how uncommon your personal choices are. Trust your gut. It’s your truest guide. If you feel disrespected, do not be afraid to point it out. There’s nothing wrong in asking for what is owed to you.
It’s simple, really.
If anything at all makes you feel like you’re not secure enough, not valued enough, and not respected enough, you have every right, and even a duty, to speak out. This covers a range of dark realities that plague our lives such as stalking, online privacy invasion, active and passive objectification, slut shaming, fat shaming, unequal opportunities…
I might not know who you are, what you love, what you fear, what drives you, what breaks you down… But I do know that I’d like to be the backbone you never asked for. Truth is–when we help each other out as women, we’ve all found a safe place that we were never looking for. And it doesn’t hurt, does it?
Another voice of hope
Article by – Meghana Yerabati
Cover designed by – Adarsh Salagame