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South Asian women demand deepening democracy and human rights in the region

Celebrating South Asian Women's Day in Sri Lanka

South Asian Women’s Day celebrates the voices of South Asian women, their rights and belief in peace, justice, human rights and democracy. Following the declaration of this day by SANGAT ~ A South Asian Feminist Network ~ in 2002, every year, several organisations have come together as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Violence (25th of November to 10th of December) to express South Asian women’s solidarity for peace, justice, human rights and democracy. This year's South Asian Women's day marks the 11th anniversary.
We South Asians believe that the people of South Asia can bring peace and prosperity for all through friendship and cooperation. This can be done if we create and strengthen a South Asian identity across borders. Discussions, poetry, song and dance and so on mark the evening. This year South Asian Women’s Day is celebrated in several places in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka by people who are committed to South Asian-ness, peace, democracy, justice, human rights, secularism and pluralism.

We in South Asia have a lot in common from our religions, languages, arts and trade. Many of us in South Asia have our roots and connections to other countries in the region in one way or another. Also as women we face similar concerns for our safety, security, freedom and access to resources in the private and public sphere. As feminists our sister spirit goes beyond borders to support each other and create deeper bonds of friendship. As women with shared stories of oppressions it is easier for us to connect with each other. As South Asian feminists we welcome our Governments commitments at the recently held SAARC meeting for easing the visa regimes to increase mobility between the countries and encourage people to people contact. We do hope this will translate into reality to create a South Asian community. We believe that as a South Asian community we can bring peace and prosperity for all through friendship and cooperation.

To strengthen the bonds of friendship and peace with people from South Asia, Sangat celebrates the day South Asian Women's Day on 30th November each year from 2002 with its usual spirit of solidarity with friends and partners in many towns and cities of South Asia. Initiated by Sangat and its network of women and men in the year 2002 as part of the International Fortnight against Violence against Women (25th November ~ 10th December), the South Asian Women’s Day is being marked by an increasing number of students, activists and civil society members all over the region.

Every year, men and women of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet gather to speak in one firm voice about the need to reinforce democracy, peace, human rights and dialogue in the region. We gather in different cities across the region to light candles at the same time (between 5.30. p.m. and 6.30 pm.) to express solidarity with the people of the region, and demand democracy and peace.

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