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Redefining Peace - Women make a change

There cannot be a better time to meet Tanushree Gangopadhyay than after watching the screening of the documentary; Redifining Peace-Women make a change. Spectators allowed free flows of tears, since it is considered to be medicinal, it lifts the burden off the heart and makes thinking straight easier.

The struggle for change cannot be won on a platter of gold and according to K.C Janu, a tribal woman from Kerala who is one of the women who fought and won and was celebrated in the documentary, she said the more she was beaten by the police with their baton, the more she wants to fight...it is strange, secondly, the documentary was rounded off with the doggedness of young Irom Sharmila Manipur , a lady from North East India who had been in indefinite fast for the last ten years in her bid to protest the Armed Force special power Act, 1958 in Manipur, India.

With high spirit and the strength of a newly initiated activist did I approached Tanushree Gangopadhyay, the coordiantor of Bangdalore chapter of Network of Women in Media, she is a petite woman, beautiful and remarkable, her presence lingers in mind long after the interview.

Her inner strength radiates on her face, she introduced herself as a journalist, human rights activist who fights for the rights of women, and lastly she described herself as a Feminist, She is a woman who had lived her entire life as someone who will never remain silent in teh face of oppression of injustice, she spoke about the beginning of feminism in India, the achievements and the challenges the during interview. With thirty years experience as a women rights activist, one can only listen as if "listening to a king who speaks like someone who has never suck his mother's breast"

Without iota of doubt as regards her accuracy and consistency in dates though she declined giving any statistics during the interview, but she recounted the experiences of women fighters and several battles women have fought against established institutions. She narrated the genesis of women agitation from the All India Women's conference that began in the early 20's, this was when women took up the issue of their rights and they have not looked back, there are women fighters scaattered all over India.

Tanu believed that because women demand and relentlessly fought for their rights, it was easy for women to demand suffrage and rights to abortion which was granted as medical termination of pregnancy act, 1972, also the rape case of Mathura also brought important uproar and women demanded custodian rape act too.

Unfortunately according to Tanu, in 1975, there was emergency during the reign of Ghandi Indira when women could not do anything, they had to go underground and movement could not thrive, but apart from this period, she said women had being active in the National struggle, in the abolition of the caste system and land right.

She recounted that there are lots of issues staring women activists in the face now, which though not limited to these ones but the prominient ones are the problem of selective female foetucide, a situation whereby pregnant women select the desired sex of the unborn baby these days , if it is a female child, she will be aborted because of the dowry that is expected to be paid by the bride's family.

She explained further that unlike other countries, it is the bride that pays the dowry to the groom's family in India. This is affecting even the upper caste too, they prefer to select male foetus to carry on their land, since most of the perpetrators are land owners, but recently, it was discovered that the upper caste lack female in order to breed pure upper caste blood, therefore they had to marry from lower caste. This is to the advantage of professional match makers known as marriage agents who are employed in India to handle marriages.

In addition, Tanu mentioned partriachy and contraception as some of the prevailing challenges faced by women in India, though there are so many challenges but they can be overcome if women will continue to demand for their rights, since there are results to show that women have fought and won some battles in India. Struggle continues, she concluded.

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JaniceW's picture

Beautifully written

Olutosin,
You write beautifully. This is a powerfully written description of the many complex issues that confront a woman in India. Thank you.
Janice

I received an e mail from Tanu this morning that I should add this to the write up.
She is a journalist indeed!

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

olutosin's picture

In her words.

In her exact words, Tanu sent this additinal information this morning.

Womens movement in India has been very vibrant.

The feminist movement started in 1970's after the declaration of the international Womens year in 1975.
Eventhough some groups organsied themselves then, majority of them started after the 1980s .India was under Emergency during 1975 June to 1979 March , when several feminsits were either underground or faced problems due to stringent censorship and other problems.

Status of women report was published in 1974 , by several veteren feminists inlcuding a comitee Dr Neera Desai , Veena mjumdar etc.

Mathura Rape case triggered the womens movement and the frist conference of autonomous womens group was held in Bombay in 1980 .The conference took up several important issues amongst which was then change in the rape laws.SEveral other issues of women and violence were taken up.

Today through several struggles,

The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005 : has empowered women. Women who have been violated ... could be wife, mother, daughter have been given a lot of power. The fear of being driven out of the house effectively silenced many women and made them silent sufferers. The court, by this new Act, can now order that she not only reside in the same house but that a part of the house can even be allotted to her for her personal use even if she has no legal claim or share in the property.

women movement has taken issues of reproductive rights, protested agaisnt MNC's using women as guinea pigs for their contraceptives like injectibles Net-oen, Norplant, DepoProvera.

women have been given power in governance at the grassroots.33 percent reservation of seats in village local self government called Gram Panchayats, District panchayats and in urban areas in the Municipal Corporations, Municpalities.women have taken up serious issues like water,sanitation and many issues. In some of these places they also head the local self govts. Funds are channelised through these local bodies. In kerala a progressive state women Panchayats also have cells where womens issues are handled locally .They are empowered to handle legal issues like divorce.

Women self help groups have got legal entities.they have given employment through these thrift groups.In some states of the country , they have have managed to get employment like running canteens in govt offices and other places,make jhandicrafts etc.They also have space for marketting through the government.

All this is through years of intense struggle.
There are some large womens unions and groups. Self Employed womens Association (SEWA), based in Ahmedabad started in 1972, Gujarat,is a registered union has a large membership.they have moved to several states.they have organsied women in petty trades like vegetable and other vendors, women dyers and printers, tailors, weavers,dairying, agriculture labourers etc in rural areas

They have used the cooperative movement to promote their trades.They have also have a bank which is the oldest bank run by women in th world.This has been the backbone or the Friends Womens World Banking (FWWB)of which Ela Bhatt, the founder of SEWA is also the founder member of the FWWB.
SEWA bank also takes care of insurance for the poor women.this is particularly during riots and natural calamities.

Womens movement has managed to get maternity benifits for the unorganised sector.Widow pension.
Today several Supreme Court judgements in favour of women have helped them bargain.Prevention of SExual harassment , a judgement passed bythe SC empower women.it is mandatory for every establishement to have sexual harassment cells , which looks into the safety of women.

However implementation of these is an uphill task.
Of late the backlash has started in a big way.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

gunu_k's picture

still a long way to go

Dear Olutosin,
it is true that the women's movement in India has achieved a great deal and many enabling laws and policies are in place. In a short period of time we will also have 33% reservation for women in legislatures and parliament while in local body elections we already have 50%. However, patriarchy is still very deep rooted in Indian society and most women are still oppressed. So the struggle has to continue. It is nice to see you showing so much interest in the women's movement in India.

Subhadra Khaperde
India

olutosin's picture

Still saying the same thing

We are still saying the same thing, struggle continues, victory is certain.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Nusrat Ara's picture

You are going great guns

You are going great guns girl.

Love

Nusrat

olutosin's picture

Thanks darling

Grateful for the comments

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Starland's picture

what a change

What a change you are making by sharing these stories and insights. And most beautifully written at that. Amazing and lovely just like you.

love
ma 3709

K-lee Starland, Ph.D.

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