Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | January 19, 2009

She – the sailor

Unlike in India, in NZ, there is no social discrimination as to work that is supposed to be done by either a man or a woman. Women in NZ are not discriminated either for or against. They work as masons, locksmiths, heavy vehicle drivers, cab drivers, sailors, divers, train conductors, estate managers so on and so forth. These days due to summer, a funny looking rickshaw is seen sometimes on the main street of Auckland (it looks similar to the ones we have in India in abundance) and women drive them too. In India, sadly poverty results women take up jobs that involve physical activities. Indians categorise each job that they take up and thus some jobs are perceived to be done by males, whereas some by females. That is why, very foolishly we laugh at those men who help their wives in washing clothes!

Sailors who impressed me

Women sailors

Our recent trip to a part of Coromondal Peninsula was an experience in itself (about which I shall write later) but I was much more impressed with the lady who drove the two hour long ferry to the island and back. She was aided by another lady who was the attendant.

Our sailor was gorgeous to look at though neither she wore make up nor she looked like visiting the parlour quite often (I don’t know about her inclination though and I don’t mind if she spends her hard earned money that way!). She was smart in the way she conducted herself, all the passengers, maneuvered the boat in the tides of mid Pacific, anchored the boat with her other woman colleague, gave commentary during the trip. She impressed me a lot with her professionalism. I felt happy that the society here does not categorise certain work on the basis of gender. If it did, it would have lost out on such a professional sailor. I congratulate the people too for not allowing draconian social norms to govern their lives.

Women here do every thing and society quite rightly allows them to do so. Recently, I was surprised to see another woman who is a very senior financial consultant, a single mother of two and a proud farmer. Since, I have not seen such things in India, so I am surprised at such a common feature in the Kiwi society.

In India, we are prisoners to many social norms which don’t hold good in to-day’s times. Many of us, in our discussions criticise them but within ourselves we believe in them and whenever we get an opportunity we tend to exploit them. Since, we allowed such norms to prevail, crimes on women have never reduced either. These crimes move women away from many work which they would have normally liked to do. I guess the situation in India is not as easy as it may seem but mostly we end up diluting the issue in our war of words.



  1. This is exactly what I have seen in the US, and I hear it is the same in the Scandinavian countries. And this is why I pray these days, all patriotism thrown to the winds, that my daughter might get a chance to live and work – no matter what she does, scientist, schoolteacher, businesswoman or writer – in a social milieu where she neither has to live with so much fear and humiliation and automatic deprivation as so many Indian women do, nor does she feel it necessary to be rude and vulgar with everybody around her to assert that she is somebody, as so many other Indian women habitually do.

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