‘Sarees’ of Soul: An Open Letter on Women Empowerment

woman wearing a saree women empowerment in india

Draping 6 yards of wisdom, abuse, paradoxes, and choices – The Indian and the International Women

There is a part of the traditional Indian 6 yards draped attire called, the ‘saree’, that hangs over the shoulder. For some women it flutters to attract and seduce, for some, it covers India’s never-ending saga of violence, abuse, and scars that in turn hides the never-ending violence Indian men lace on their women. I call them the ‘sarees’ of the soul. For what remains after the beating and rapes and yards of burned and torn drapes, are souls always seeking freedom and rescue from the never-ending injustice on India’s women.

During the era of Maharajas and Maharanis of India, it was the shrouded wisdom of many of the royal wives and consorts that the kings relied upon and acted on their advice, however, their ‘sarees’ nor souls had room for shared enlightenment. Now, women empowerment, in today’s India, battles with a very slight edge in being empowered to lead. This is evident today, not just in India, but around the world. Statistics, unfortunately, rule over speculations, and for the empowered woman, it is still a poor showing. Very Poor.

So, what exactly are we celebrating during this Women’s History Month? I am an international woman, being Indian of origin, American at living and Universal in the soul, wearing the ‘saree’, wearing the pants, relentlessly fighting for survival and equal dominance and demands of fairness. While warring for acceptance and territorial intelligence to be recognized and embalmed even, for the wisdom and brilliance I carry along with my burdens, I choose to challenge every adversity in my path. This calls for celebration every day.

The 2021 theme for Women’s International Day was Leadership. It should always have been, more now than ever. In my Ted-Talk, the soul message was about women leading, not pleading. Leading by choice, not by position. It is believed, give a man a book, he may learn something from it but, give a woman a book and she will teach the world.

This is my open letter to every woman on the path of furthering women empowerment in India and around the world:

You are EMPOWERED! Like our souls, we own empowerment. Take it. You do not have to fake it to make it your own.

To my countrywoman on either side of the world, choose to challenge and make real the desires you carry on your ‘pallav’ (the Indian term for the part of the saree that hangs over the shoulder) and or, choose to challenge the hidden ‘balls of fire’ in the pants you wear!

Cheers then, to our month-long celebration and the empowered years ahead. Speak up. Speak true. Speak from your soul. I enjoyed this quote by Angie Chang, co-founder of Women 2.0 (one of the largest global communities of women working in Technology), who when in an interview said, “if you speak openly and often, you don’t need to speak loudly.”

Sincerely in speaking, writing, and empowering,

Seema Niloufer Azharuddin


seema azharuddin women empowerment india open letter sarees of the soul

About the Author

Seema Azharuddin has been actively involved in a variety of fields like acting, producing, writing, journalism, and consulting, including being a champion for several causes and campaigns. Currently, she continues to volunteer as a spokesperson for the Indian diaspora for Biden’s presidency and contributes to a number of publications.


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