International Women's Day | The Week That Was

International Women's Day | The Week That Was

Oxfam India is steadfastly committed to its mission for actualising a world where gender equality is a reality. For decades, we have strived to build resilience by empowering women and enhancing sustainable livelihood opportunities for them. We are cognisant of the socio-economic contributions that women make and how they go unacknowledged.

On 8 March as well as during the week, we celebrated International Women’s Day in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka by lauding the women who have taken great strides towards empowerment for themselves and the women in their own communities. We conducted a myriad of activities across the three states where dialogues about women’s rights were the predominant focus.

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Oxfam India organised a talk with the prolific Dr. Sayeda Hameed as a part of our Women’s day celebrations. Dr. Hameed is a former member of the Planning Commission, writer, educationist and a women’s rights activist. She recited the stories of around 20 remarkable women and their contribution in shaping India. In an engaging discussion post the talk, she touched on various contemporary issues that women face including the Hijab ban. 

Delhi

In Delhi, we organised a women's day event in our community area, Mehrauli on 7 March. The session was organised by Swarnalata Mahilkar, a feminist trainer. The event was full of energizing discussions on women leaders and the importance of International Women’s Day. It was conducted in a park in Mehrauli with an objective of occupying public spaces, allowing women and girls to take out some leisure time through fun activities.

Uttar Pradesh

For International Women’s Day in UP, 124 women participated In the festivities and gatherings organised to felicitate women sugarcane farmers. In Meerut, women farmers from different villages were felicitated for their contribution to farming. The District Tuberculosis Officer presided over the meeting and addressed the farmers and talked about their rights. Thereafter, the women farmers shared their stories and perspectives.

In Muzaffarnagar, International Women’s Day was packed with celebratory marches, and various meetings with women farmers and members of School Management Committees. Women farmers were enthusiastic participants for this occasion. Invitees also included women who were unable to avail of the benefits of social security schemes. A list of these women was prepared and handed over to the concerned departments. In Saharanpur, besides felicitating the women farmers, Oxfam India organised various exciting activities with them - which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Maharashtra

In Beed and Osmanabad events dedicated to women sugarcane cutters and their health issues were held on International Women's Day. Authorities from the local sugar factory, representatives from the Women and Child Department, agricultural officers and other respected officials were invited for these events. Women workers presented the issues that they faced and conducted discussions for solutions that could resolve these issues.

In Osmanabad's Murum village of Umerga Taluka a meeting organised on 10 March. This was in collaboration with the Sri Vithalshahi Cooperative Sugar Factory. Around 120 participants attended, including women sugarcane cutters, Block Development Officers, ASHA workers and CSO representatives. A discussion on women’s health issues and children’s education was conducted.

On 13 March, International Women's Day was celebrated at the Sundarrao Solanke Sahakari Sugar Factory in Beed district. A discussion about gender based discrimination and issues faced by women sugarcane cutters was organised. The event had 50 participants and was presided over by Advocate Hematai Pimple and Samir Pathan Saheb of Taluka Legal Services Authority.

Women from Kamrajnagar informal settlement in Pune, gathered on 9 March at the local Janata Balwadi to celebrate International Women's Day. The work is just beginning, so the women were full of curiosity about the event. We discussed the origins of the day in the demands for labour rights by women garment factory workers internationally and women’s demands for voting rights. The discussion then turned to the valuable work done by Fatima Sheikh who was a partner with Savitribai Phule in her endeavour to bring girls to schools. The curiosity turned to engagement and then to outright glee when we played musical chairs, danced and sang songs!

Karnataka

On 8 March, Oxfam India organised an event in collaboration with the Modern English School in DJ Halli in Bangalore to celebrate the contributions of women and girls to society. Around 21 girls participated in this event. The event commenced with a workshop titled ‘Nutrition during Adolescence and Importance of Women’s Health’ - conducted by a nutritionist and our colleagues Sana Mehreen.

Some important aspects of this discussion included the importance of nutrients in our diet, deworming, body shaming and eating disorders, alternatives to junk food, menstrual health and hygiene, and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. The students were enthusiastic participants and their takeaway from this discussion involved reflecting on a variety of such issues.

During break where we served ragi cupcakes, keeping alive the spirit of health and nutrition. As an added bonus - it also made for a scrumptious snack. After the break we organised a rangoli competition where the girls amazed us with their artistic skills and creativity. Participants were divided into teams and each team was named after an inspirational woman – Sarojini Naidu, Malala Yousafzai, Indira Gandhi and Kalpana Chawla. The event was judged by the principal of the school and prizes were distributed. 

With inputs from Ranjana Das, Amita Pitre and Anushree Jairath.

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