They need a "consent Letter" from a "parent" or "guardian" to let a boarder stay at the Young Women's Christian Association in Lucknow.
Since I did not want to argue with the warden, and I desperately needed a place to stay at, I nodded my "consent" at the disturbing request.
If a place is meant for sheltering "women and children" and for extending support to people that need help, why do they need "consent" letters?
Suppose a woman wants to get in there because her husband is abusing her or her parents are trying to sell her off to an Arab sheikh, who the hell would give her a "consent letter" and without it how on earth would she get to a safe shelter?
A forty four year old woman that doesn't have a father, brother, husband, or mother, or relatives, where would she get a "consent letter" from when she needs shelter?
And those who do have someone to "consent" to actions designed for their wellbeing why on earth would they need the Young Woman's Christian Association's charity?
O and how do people around the world define "young" or "women" ?
A woman that works eighteen hours a day like everybody else, maintains herself, is single and without family support and without male relatives and is living in a new city in India - is she "young" enough, vulnerable enough, helpless enough to qualify for "support to empower women from all walks of life irrespective of caste creed or economic status"?
If YWCA has an age bar, isn't that discriminating on grounds of age?
YWCA Lucknow refused a forty four year old single woman a seat on the ground that they do not give shelter to women over thirty. There was an empty seat, she paid up, agreed to all their rules, got permission to move in and then she was told, they cannot take her in as she was over forty and they refused to take her form, which she then left with a room mate as she had to leave town the next day.
Does Christian charity demand that a person be of a certain age to get shelter, and is an age bar fair and just and reasonable and ethical and even common sense with respect to the idea of "women's empowerment", especially, in countries like India where there is nosupport system whatsoever for urban working women and what there is too limited and even unsafe for women?
If you want to empower women, dont we need to be opne to provide a safe shelter to people that are otherwise financially independent and could be a help to the YWCA to forward their cause in their own ways?
Food, clothing and shelter are the three basic necessities of life and when you deny any of these to one in need, are you being charitable?
Hindus are repressive about their women, and so some of us have no other option but to turn to Christian charity to stay on course and keep our lives together.
Am not looking for a revolution. I am only thinking INCLUSIVE. And am thinking "young women" are all that are working and are otherwise capable of supporting themselves and others around them provided they get some ground under their own feet first. Empowering such women might be empowering other women and children and vulnerable people, through them?
The world is already wracked with so many barriers, why let another one (like an age bar at YWCA shelters) put already at-risk women's lives at even more risk?
YWCA is a world organization. Where vulnerable groups like women and children are concerned, can we not have some blanket rules that is the same wherevere in the world one might be in? And especially in developing countries, or in repressive countries like India where peole ask you your caste or whether you are vegetarian or non-vegetarian before they would let you have a rented room, where the number of poor women far exceeds young urban working women, and where support for such groups is very limited, can YWCA not be slightly more open and accommodating is all am asking?
The YWCA New York website has to say this about their vision mission goal statement:
YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
The YWCA-NYC envisions a day when the diverse women of New York City, once seen as at risk or working poor, can sustain themselves and their families, and are empowered to define and attain their own unique goals and aspiration, contributing to strong communities, building a better New York for everyone.
7. Inclusiveness, Diversity, and Respect
The YW has a policy of promoting inclusiveness, diversity, and respect for all people. To that end:
- Our employees, volunteers and Board members reflect cultural diversity and promote respect, tolerance and justice for all people;blockquote</i>
The page also states:
- Our organization respects and tolerates diversity of opinions;
I understand that YWCA Lucknow might have their own policy of restricting shelter to under thirties and they have the right to deny a forty plus woman.
However, when this 'respect for diversity of opinions' clashes with the universal idea of "justice for all", "empowerment of women" (and women all over the world are 'at-risk' group actually however you might want to look at it, it is a matter of degree of difference in the rights they enjoy, along with men, for even in Sweden or the US no one has heard of absolute equal rights as yet) and supporting women's "ability to sustain themselves", should not the whole world and especially the Americans that are raised to expect and assert individual's rights and liberty to pursue a safe and life of dignity, come together in solidarity to design for change, that TRULY accommodates ALL kinds of women, and is truly INCLUSIVE?
To do charity, one doesn't always have to spend money or give things, sometimes, being charitable is just posting a letter or making a phone call to a place far away, supporting someone you believe needs a little support.
The world started with and ends with the "word".
In countries like India there is no infra structure to specially support women, no half way homes, no shelters, no social security, they do not have things like "grants for middle aged women going back to school", they do not even see that middle aged women might be needing help and support or have dreams and aspire to live safe lives, lives with a little bit of grace in them and singles are shunned and looked down upon. There are few or no laws to protect her.And where there is, she doesnot have easy access to that kind of help.
So - would YWCA come together to extend support to forty plus working womenin India? For am sure not all YWCAs refuse forty pluses hostel facility and in the rule book that was given to me, it does say "women and girls" but since "who is a woman" is not clearly defined, there is misunderstanding and confusion? Would YWCAs from around the world come together to help sort this out please?
If there is "word" now, you would be leaving a lasting legacy of help and support for hundreds of young urban women in developing countries around the world and there would be change for the better, for everyone, not just this one woman that raised the issue.