In the early ‘80s, music enthusiasts in Calcutta were introduced to a sparkly Cyndi Lauper and her feminist anthem Girls just wanna have fun. The original track by Robert Hazard was far from feminist, and Lauper had to rework the song’s misogyny. Hazard had written it from a man’s perspective, thankful that man is ‘the fortunate one’, with ‘fun’ standing for coerced bedroom capers.
Forty years later, one in every 3 child brides in the world lives in India, more than 45 lakh girls under 15 are married with children, 41,067 girls were reported missing in 2016 (the last available data), as the country is celebrating National Girl Child Day.
Lauper had changed the lyrics of her career-defining 1983 hit to assert that ‘girls want to have the same damn experience that any man could have’. However, the world hasn’t changed very much for the girls today.
Twitter mused on both these realities on a day the women and child development ministry designated for the girl child as late as 2008, to talk about all the inequalities girls face in the Indian society and to remind the people that a girl can do everything a boy can, and better!
The All India Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev pointed out that the government must create opportunities for girls’ voices to be heard, and that leading change for girls is something that can no longer be ignored.
Netizens remembered several women ‘firsts’. Among them was Mangala Mani, who became ISRO’s first woman scientist to spend over 400 days in Antarctica.
Proud parents and people in general showed some love, and talked about girls ‘having fun’ in various fields, from sports to science.
Law and justice minister Ravi Shankar Prasad congratulated Baramulla’s Ishrat Akhtar who had represented India in the Asia-Oceania Wheelchair Basketball Championship in 2019. Ishrat will also attempt for a spot at the Tokyo Para-Olympics to be held this year.
Smriti Irani, minister of women and child development announced that the ministry has entrusted the UGC to establish 10 Chairs in the names of women who have achieved eminence in several fields including art, science, and administration.
So let's work to create a present (and a future!) for girls to learn, work, and earn, and have fun when a working day is done!