After 73 years of independence, we really ask ourselves the question: are we really free? What does freedom mean for the millions of young girls who are part of a very young population in the country?
Is it the freedom to choose what to do in life? Is it the freedom to be able to walk on the street without being called or harassed? Is it the freedom to choose your own partner or not to marry at all? Is it the freedom to speak loudly and clearly and not be afraid of naysayers who tell them that women should be "docile and gentle"? Or is it the freedom to rise above stereotypes that tell them what a girl can or can't do?
These and many questions shape the mood of young women across the country when we celebrate Independence Day tomorrow. For freedom, this does not mean celebrating independence, which was achieved by the British colonial rulers in 1947. It means so much more to a young country and its young women when we advance the path of Atmanirbharta. Can a country really become independent if its youth are not free in every way?
HerStory spoke to some young people to understand what freedom means to them and how important it is for us to keep the feeling of freedom in our hearts so that our future looks bright and wonderful.
Freedom from a patriarchal society
Even after so many years of independence, I don't think we're really free. For me, freedom means doing what I want to do without pressure or fear that something bad will happen to me. Which seems to be a lot to ask in India. Women do not have the freedom to form their own opinions, express their feelings, make choices, or live their lives the way they want. Women are always overshadowed and controlled by male figures in their lives, be it their fathers, brothers, husbands or uncles. What we really need is freedom from this patriarchal society.
Ritika Naidu, 25, Chartered Accountant, Nagpur
times are changing
Freedom for me would mean doing things that I want as a person without thinking about the consequences. Like being a woman before getting dressed for a trip you need to consider many factors, such as how you plan to go? How long will you be there and would you return home before midnight? And then dress accordingly. And as for working life, there are some specific tasks that women are generally believed not to be done with contractors etc. like on construction sites. But over time, this mentality has also changed. Women push everything through and create their own identity at eye level with men or even superiors!
Ayesha Sheikh, 21, student, Mumbai
Security and voting rights
For me freedom means security and the right to vote. But as a woman, it has a different price in different countries. Women bear the responsibility of the family, in which one has a limited right to express oneself and to be heard. Their physicality or marital status determine who they are in a society, and most of them do not have the right to lead independent lives. Your future will be shaped by the judging patriarchal society.
Wangchen Tsomu, student, Arunachal Pradesh
Freedom to do the things i want
For me, freedom means being at peace with myself and not feeling guilty or shameful about certain things just because they don't fit into social norms. These include the freedom to study, to follow the arts, the freedom to choose one career option later in life and switch to another if necessary, the freedom to live freely on my own terms after I turn 18, and the freedom , to learn new things. More importantly, I would like to have the freedom to walk the streets without fear of phone calls or harassment, the freedom to have an opinion on certain topics, the freedom not to look after myself be judged, the freedom to live and fight on my own terms and not to survive.
Priti Paul, 20, Nursing Student, West Bengal
Freedom comes in several layers
For me as a young woman, freedom means being free from gender norms and expectations. I have safety concerns every time I go outside at any time of the day or night. I am aware that I am in a social condition that is associated with many privileges, but at the same time I know that I do not have the same degree of freedom as my brother. Do i think we are free? I think freedom comes in several layers. It's not just about getting freedom from colonialism. With independence came many thoughts and ideas about how free India looks. If we have not achieved freedom from classism, casteism, racism, sexism, or communalism, we have not achieved freedom at all.
Apoorva Chopra, student, Bengaluru
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