Padmaja Iyengar-Paddy

We women have been change makers all our lives from time immemorial – and this is an undisputed fact!

The way a woman handles and absorbs physiological ‘change’s and passes on her best to the child in her womb, is the most classic example of woman as a changemaker! Before and after this child-bearing and child-rearing process, her entire life is a series of change-making events. Women, from early on, are expected to accept changes and make changes that make a difference to not only their own lives but to the society at large.

After the deadly gun attack on young Malala Yusafzai, her miraculous survival and relentless campaign, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a UN petition in Malala's name, demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015; it gave a lead to the ratification of Pakistan's first Right to Education Bill.

Closer home, in response to Acid Attack survivor Laxmi’s petition, the Supreme Court of India passed an order in July, 2013 to stop the open sale of acid and directed State Governments to regulate it by asking dealers to register the identification of the buyers and state what they were using it for. Thus, acid could no more be sold over the counter – a small yet significant change for preventing acid attacks.

Nirbhaya galvanized an entire country to stand up and raise a voice against rapes and crimes against women, leading to the passage of Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. The amended laws have made it clear that there is now harsh sentence for rape convicts, that includes death as well as life term penalty, stringent punishment for other offences against women like eve teasing, acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism. Various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act have also been amended by the Government. These significant “changes’ and amendment in relevant laws have been possible because of the concerted efforts of women from all sections of the society.

What triggers the “change maker” in a woman? What makes girls/women like the youngest-ever Nobel Prize Awardee Malala Yousafzai and acid attack victims like Laxmi, to rise from the abyss of pain, despair, doubts and fear, and perform the almost death-defying Phoenix act? It is their immense self-belief, courage and determination to fight injustice; it is when they stop being the victim, stand up and initiate actions to prevent further crimes against women. Such affirmative actions not only serve as meaningful and effective survival tools but act as catalysts for long term change.
While the above are well known cases and names, for every ten or twelve women suffering domestic violence and abuse, at least a few now are standing up to say “No!” to further abuse and walking out and away. These faceless women are the greatest change makers, as they assert themselves by refusing to put up with further violence. By doing so, they have taken steps to permanently change their life for the better and also of their children who are saved from being witness to further abuse of their mother and also from being abused further by their father (which is often the case), as such women usually take away their children while walking away from their abusive husbands.

Our domestic maid brings a “change” in the lives of us working women by sharing the burden of our household chores, that enables us to go out to work and supplement our family income for a better life and better future. In turn, the income that she earns enables her to bring small yet significant “changes’ in her own family as the bread-winner

In top business families too, that were in the past strong male bastions with the women of the house often confined to cosmetic roles, we are now witnessing emergence of the female members of these families stepping out of their traditional “cosmetic” image and setting up successful business ventures of their own and carving a niche for themselves! Take any field today – science, technology, education, law, industry, banking & finance, media and so on, women are shining as effective and positive change makers!

Over the years, it is the women workers who have brought about changes in the functioning styles of organizations. Flexi hours, paternity leave and office crèches are some of the examples of women’s role as change makers. And these are changes that herald change in management thinking/perception towards gender sensitivity and diversity, and also an acceptance of the importance of women’s role both in the organization and at home.

Laws against Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace, Dowry Harassment, Domestic Violence etc. are all wonderful examples of the role played by women activists and lawmakers to bring about “change”. Of course, a lot more needs to be done to make these laws truly effective and also to prevent their misuse by some unscrupulous women.

At the policy-making levels too, women are contributors to positive changes – innovative in their thought processes and intuitively geared to march on towards a better tomorrow by ushering in changes, even if small ones, in their existing conditions.

I would like to conclude by quoting from an article by Peerzada Ashiq on Jammu & Kashmir women titled ‘The Empowerment diaries’ that appeared in the centre-page of ‘The Hindu’ (31 December, 2016) :

“Mufti sees the Scooty as a game changer in improving the education of girl children…..While it is too early to see these women as enduring successes, having a woman Chief Minister at the helm seems to have given a fresh impetus to a more inclusive society in a State which has primarily been in the news this year for its mind numbing violence. A slew of measures initiated by Chief Minister (Mehbooba) Mufti - including …..an all women entrepreneurs’ market, all-woman buses and all-woman police stations – are aimed at women …”


Padmaja Iyengar – Paddy

Having explored the worlds of banking and urban governance in senior positions, Padmaja Iyengar – Paddy is currently the Hon. Lit. Advisor of The Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravati (CCVA).  She recently compiled, curated and published for CCVA the International Multilingual Poetry Anthology ‘Amaravati Poetic Prism 2016’ that has a record 527 poems in 53 languages! It has been recognized as a Unique Record of Excellence by the India Book of Records. Another International Multilingual Poetry Anthology of Women Poets ‘WWW – Women, Wit & Wisdom’, compiled, curated and edited by her (219 poems in 31 languages) was launched in February, 2017.

She also manages an on-line literary networking forum www.ratemyliterature.com that provides a free platform to writers to showcase their works. Her English poems, articles, short stories etc. have appeared in numerous e-zines, leading newspapers and National and International anthologies.

Paddy’s maiden poetry collection ‘P-En-Chants’ has been reckoned as a ‘Unique International Record of Excellence’ by the India Book of Records and the Wonder Book of Records International for Never-before-attempted Movie Reviews and Management Topics in Rhyming Poetry form.

Paddy is also regularly invited to literary and poetry events to present her poems, the latest being an invitation to Malaysia to read her poems at the 7th Pangkor International Poetry & Folk Song Festival at Malaysia in December, 2016 and to the SAARC Literary Festival at New Delhi in February, 2017 as an Indian Delegate to read her poems.

Paddy regularly participates in discussions on civic and urban governance issues on the electronic media. She was a part of the Round Tables on Smart Cities organized at Hyderabad by the Deputy British High Commission and Foundation for Futuristic Cities.

Paddy writes for pleasure – finds humor in everything…P G Wodehouse being her all-time favorite and inspiration!

Contact Details

URL : www.ratemyliterature.com

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