Mary Kom – Boxing. In contention for Gold,Silver or Bronze Medal at Olympics 2012. 5 times World Champion.

29, Mother of twin boys, Coached by her husband – her mentor, her guide the man behind the woman. She never forgot the support her father-in-law gave her in pursuing her career post her marriage. She convinced her father that she wanted to be a boxer and he vowed he would do whatever it needed to support her aspirations , if need be even sacrifice himself. With their support and belief – she overcame it all – poverty, hunger, discrimination, death threats – and turned their dreams into a reality.

Saina Nehwal – Badminton. Bronze Medallist Olympics 2012. World No 4. 5 Super Series Titles

22, Daughter of  a Scientist. Both parents were former national champions in Haryana and influenced her foray into badminton. Ably supported by her father who could not hide his pride when his daughter won the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics last Saturday. Years of hard work had gone into her win. He a middle class man – spent half of his income on training his 8 year old daughter , waking up in the morning, taking her to the stadium 20 Kms away from their home at 6.00 a.m every single day. With little or practically no help from the sports authorities of the state or India – Saina’s father gave up all he had to see his daughter shine at the highest level and make her country proud. Coached by one of India’s finest badminton stars Pulela Gopichand – Saina continues to shine.

Krishna Poonia – Athletics. 7th in the Discus Throw Finals. Olympics 2012

35, mother of a 8 year old son, first woman to win a Gold in Track & Field Events at the CommonWealth Games 2010. Only the 6th Indian to qualify for the finals in a track and field event at the Olympics. Refused assistance of INR 1lakh by the Rajasthan Government for training abroad – funded the training out of her own pocket. Her husband , Virender Singh also a former athlete – her biggest support who inspired her to pursue her sports career even after marriage. She hails from a small village Agroha, Haryana . Lost her mother early, managed studies, training and household work and milked buffaloes. Her father supported her in her endeavours and today watches on proudly as his daughter goes on to represent her country at the biggest stage.

Their triumphs are not just the triumphs of feminism or womanhood – their triumphs are triumphs of unity. Their triumphs I hope will inspire an entire generation of women – but more importantly I hope their stories fall on the ears of the men folk of their country, my country – India.

Behind their success is the success of their fathers, husbands, fathers-in-law, coaches – men who supported and backed these women to achieve their moment in the sun.

In India, very few women are blessed with supportive males in their families be it a father, brother or husband. Every woman -– however successful, however educated, however famous – has at some point in her life sacrificed a little for her man , willingly or unwillingly –with  no questions asked. If she is lucky, she has been appreciated. I see this inequality everyday – at work, amongst my friends & family , amongst the educated, amongst the orthodox,amongst the rich and the poor, always in the news on television and in the papers. Every single day!

And then I read the stories of Mary Kom, Saina, and Krishna and I hope they will bring a change in my country.

Their tales teach us what you the man and me the woman can achieve together, what a father-daughter, coach-student, husband-wife, mother-son, mother-father can achieve together. Together – you and I – the guy and the gal we are not different, we are the same, you are not better, I’m not lesser – you and I we are equal, you respect me and I respect you, you believe in me and I prove your faith , you give me the push and I run faster, you help me sail and then I soar – you have to be my shield when I take my sword to fight my battles.

I can fight alone, this country – this society expects me to fight my battles alone, always has, always will, to forever prove my worth & fight for my rights across generations. You are given everything you need without a question asked because you are the man – me the woman, I’m questioned all the time. I have to always put you ahead of me. That has to change.

I’ve changed, I’m changing but you need to step up – you need to catch up – you need to be beside me – then we will truly win. You and I can’t work in isolation – you and I can’t be at loggerheads, you and I can’t be fighting with each other – you cannot see a victory in my loss, you cannot be strong by crushing me.

You and I need to be with each other, to work together, you have to take pride in my achievements , you have to help me find my way to success, you have to ease my battles – You and I need to be together to make those miracles a reality in our country – our India.