Shri Mataji - On the global problems facing womenAddress by Dr. (Mrs) Nirmala Srivastava. Inter-regional Round Table, Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, China. September 13, 1995.
Brothers and Sisters of the World,
It is a great honour for me to talk about global problems of women in front of this distinguished assembly. First of all I would like to offer my profound gratitude to the government and the people of our host country, the People's Republic of China. I have had the privilege of visiting China on two previous occasions and I am a great admirer of the wisdom and culture of this great nation that I have visited.
This is, beyond my imagination, the most glorious time in the history of the world that at this time we are so much aware of the problems of women. Women as a whole have definitely suffered over the ages because we have not realised what their importance is and what their proper role is in human society. Society itself, which is her creation, tries to control or put down the womanhood. In the East, we can say, that due to fundamentalist influence women have been under great pressure and their morality is based on fear rather than freedom. In the West they have fought for their freedom, but what they have attained is spurious freedom. The women in the West have the freedom to abandon all social and moral values. Thus in the East, we can say, that most of the women are timid, oppressed and cannot express themselves, while in the West we find most of the women are reduced to a sex symbol. They are keen to expose their body. Their anxiety is to appear in fashion advertisements and very cheap popularity. Most of them accepted this position because otherwise they could not have survived in that chaotic world of the West. What most of the women in the East would regard as very humiliating and degrading is regarded as something very glorifying in the West. I have seen both the worlds very deeply and I feel that unless and until you bring a new culture by which women from the East and women from the West can both rise in their own esteem and express themselves in such a way that they create high moral standards for their society, women neither in the East nor in the West will rise to their full stature of feminine speciality. The speciality is that if women are respected for their womanhood, understanding what they are capable of and how they can empower themselves with all the education needed, all the security will be provided to them and they will provide security to the society.
All the fundamentalists who talk of religion expect women to be absolutely moral and the men can do whatever they like. I feel we have to educate men more than women. I must admit it is not difficult to collect money for poor women in the developing countries and help them to get out of their poverty, but unfortunately, my knowledge is that the money we are collecting may not reach the poor women but may end up into the pockets of the corrupt ministers, bureaucrats and other people in charge.