Over 1000 attend women's Day meet in Raipur
Oxfam India along with Sajha Manch (a network of 22 Civil Society Organizations) and CASA organised a day long Convention on Women’s Rights and their fight against patriarchy, traditional regressive practices, on March 14 at Civil Lines, Raipur to celebrate International Women’s Day. Kamla Bhasin, a well-known feminist leader and South Asia Convener of One Billion Rising was present along with host of other women’s rights activists and as many as 1400 women from Ten districts of the state.
The atmosphere was charged with wonderful poetry on women’s struggles against patriarchy, social evils and gender biases that have since been converted into brilliant songs, mostly penned by Bhasin herself. For starters, the guests were welcomed on the note of drum, and “genda phool” which is a traditional offering as part of local culture.
The program began with a series of songs presented by Chandrika and her troupe. Among those who were specially present were activist Shashi Sayal, who has been at the forefront of Liquor Prohibition agitation in Chhattisgarh more commonly known as “DaruBandi” across the rural heartland. She has also worked tenaciously towards the cause of Dalit, Bahujan Mahila Adhikaar. Also present was Harshita Pandey from State Women’s Commission, Meetu from CASA, Vidya Rajput for Transgender Rights Movement and various womens’ rights activist under the banner of SAJHA Manch.
Welcoming the august crowd, Anand Shukla, Regional Manager, Chhattisgarh at Oxfam India stated that “Although humanity has come a long way when we talk about technology, it is yet to make progress in social thinking. He said that scientific temperament and idea of justice, equality and dignity to women, should be at the forefront of any society, it can be promoted by creating opportunities for women. Recognization of women farmers, gender audits of school text books, liquor prohibition and alliances with middle class women living in the cities are crucial steps for women’s movements.”
Oxfam India Chhattisgarh Program Officer Anu verma, shed light on the history of Womens’ Movement and how on March 8, when 150 odd US women had let a mutiny against their Factory demanding equal wages for equal work hours- has actually paved the way for this huge radical feminist movement in all over the world. She said that women in Chhattisgarh too have a glorious history of standing up for their rights.
Shashi Sayal said that women in Chhattisgarh were fighting a unique war of dispossession and inequality of wages. Women who spend a lifetime doing farmwork are not represented in the govt records as farmers. Rather, they remain as farm hands, minus any of the compensation and benefits. Similarly, the domestic helps are extremely exploited, as they are not organised and are never paid justified wages.
Vidya Rajput, said that she was glad nature made her the way she is. She has a body of male, their physical agility, and yet her soul is as tender as that of any woman. She stated that since her first realisation of a feminist soul when she was yet a young boy of adolescent age, she was told by everyone that it was a disease. However, every one of them took advantage of her, and then she realised that fighting for her rights as a human being, was the only way.
Harshita Pandey, from Women’s Commission said “women could only be at par with men, when they are given equal window of opportunity and that women who have won elections to Janpad Panchayats and other public offices, should learn to do their work minus their husbands.”
A lovely skit on women rebellion and fight for justice was presented in the form of Pandwaani by Chandrika and her troupe, while the program was successfully conducted by Woman Rights Worker Hemlata and the vote of thanks was proposed by Mamta Kujur from Jashpur.
After the program, the 1400 odd women formed a human chain and marched till the Vrindavan Hall, in Civil Lines, raising slogans of equality, justice and dignity.