Bollywood stars confident of bright future for Indian women

By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, March 8 (IANS) Bollywood's leading ladies say they have never felt inferior to men and believe opportunities are increasing for women in the country.

Bipasha Basu: In the past few decades, women in India have found their own place. Unlike in other parts of the world, we have never tried to compete with men. We have found our own place by using our own strengths and capabilities. This makes the new Indian woman a lot different, and I believe, a lot stronger. You know they say a woman who wants to be equal to a man lacks ambition.

The new Indian woman cuts across all age groups and class structures. We adapt better to circumstances because we are not playing by the rules of others. We are resilient and are able to bounce back from every eventuality. I know women who go to work, take care of house and home, and be mothers without breaking a step. I don't know many men who can do that. Somehow we never exhaust ourselves as much in the workplace as men do.

I admire my mother, because I see a lot of the qualities of the modern Indian woman in her. Or perhaps, it's the other way around. Her energy and poise are admirable. And that is the strength of women worldwide: to excel in the world without losing their femininity. On International Women's Day, I would like to congratulate women everywhere for the love and care that we bring to the world.

Hema Malini: I'm proud to be a woman and an Indian. With the status that I've achieved I've no problem getting what I want. But I know it isn't so with a lot of women in our country. I empathize with their suffering and I do want to work towards improving their lot. That's one of the reasons I joined politics.

Ekta Kapoor: Being a woman is no disadvantage. Though I won't say it's an advantage either in today's India - at least not in the corporate world. Yet lots of women in rural India are made to believe they're disadvantaged by their gender. Yes gender bias is waning. I think our inherent advantage as women is that we're stronger than men although we're more sensitive.

Shilpa Shetty: Personally, as a woman I've nothing to complain about. Life has been very kind to me. Today when I go abroad I'm proud to represent my film fraternity, my gender, my country and myself. I guess I've been singularly lucky. I realize there're so many women in our country who are still struggling to earn a living. But I think things are changing very fast. Opportunities for women aren't limited any longer. As a girl I've never felt inferior. Our parents brought up my sister and I as no different than boys.

Koena Mitra: I could realize my dreams because of the opportunities I got. I know there are states in our country that are yet to treat women on par with men. I'm hopeful this scenario will change soon. But for me the country is a hotbed of opportunities. I come from Kolkata and now I belong to Mumbai. Both cities have helped me become who I am. So yes, I'm proud to be an Indian and a woman.

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