“Little girls with dreams become women with vision.” – Anonymous
The global society today is embroiled with news about attacks on women; violation of women’s freedom, civil rights and human rights. In such a maelstrom of conflict and abuse towards women, the Rukmini Foundation (RF) Didi program provided us with a platform to come together and talk about changes we want to see in our community strong with Didi Rukma Karmacharya as our guest Didi.
Raised by a single mother, Didi Rukma witnessed her mother working endless hours to provide for her. Seeing all the hard-work her mother put in each day, Rukma didi told the RF Bahini’s that it instilled a deep determination in her to do something good and worthwhile with her life. Rukma Didi’s story was not one of continuous success, but of hard work and determination despite any failures. She told the RF Bahini’s how she even failed her first School Leaving Certification (SLC) exams; and while people around her were blaming the government education system; she was simply more determined to study harder and excel in the exams next try.
As Oprah Winfrey; an ardent advocate for human rights and women empowerment once said: “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”
Didi Rukma embodied her inner queen and pursued her education and a degree in law. “One day we received an invitation to attend a party a family was throwing to celebrate their daughter’s L.L.B graduation”, Didi Rukma told RF Bahini’s. This celebration of a daughter’s success filled Rukma Didi with bigger determination and desire for her family to experience pride in her accomplishments too.
“Dreams are such wonderful things”, said Rukma Didi to RF Bahini’s. Determination turns our dreams into goals and with hard-work, the dreams turn into reality. Rukma Didi continued her education in Government university and today she is a respected and successful attorney at law. Instead of following the expected traditional norms of our society and marrying to settle down with family and kids in her 20s, Rukma Didi went onto pursue her studies and career.
Malala Tousafzai, a Pakistani activist has famously quoted “Extremists have shown what frightens them most: A girl with a book.” Every single girl who is educated is able to grow into a strong, independent, woman who can shape and change the world around her. She is capable of judging the double-standards of her society, initiating change, and most importantly, she is able to stand up against injustice around her. Rukma Didi’s story is one such story of a girl who grew into a strong, capable and unwaveringly good pillar in society. She has used her career to support not only her family but also her community by engaging in various social development programs.
While rise in child marriages and elopement has been a truth of our post COVID community, Rukma Didi’s story and message was heartening and strong for Rukmini members. As the writer G.D. Anderson once said “Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” Rukma Didi is a living example of this strength as she lives her life with the purpose of strengthening the world and people around her through her knowledge and actions. Unmarried to this day, Rukma Didi openly discussed with the Bahini’s her decision to prioritize her career and social work and not being pressured into the socially expected role of wife and a mother.
Another delicate and important topic Rukma Didi talked about with RF Bahinis’ was about child-marriages. While child- marriage is made illegal by our law, there are many far reaching ramifications that people don’t consider and the law doesn’t make a priority to educate our society about. Rukma Didi talked in detail about the social, physical, psychological and emotional effects of child- marriage on the children, as well as the young parents. She asked us to consider the socio-economic ramifications of underage married couples who aren’t financially capable, having children of their own when they can not provide them with food, safety or education. Such stressful socio-economical situations contribute to rising family and spousal violence in our society. Rukma Didi emphasized that both parents should be financially capable on their own before starting a family.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa
Rukma Didi cast one such stone through her participation in the Rukmini Foundation Didi program. We are the ripples- the Bahini’s who listened to her story, the young girls who had an opportunity to share ideas about community development with her, and those of us sitting at home on our computer and reading about this inspiring woman and being inspired to do our part in celebrating, supporting and loving the girls and women around us.