Wednesday, March 14, 2012

International Women's Day in Santiniketan

We'd like to share with you a letter from Chandana Dey, our colleague in Santiniketan, West Bengal, India. In the message below, Chandana tells us about "Women's Week" activities in Shantiniketan.

Dear Brenda,

It’s been “Women’s Week,” here in Santiniketan and we have been hearing “women’s voices” on topics ranging from physical violence to women wanting more say in who they marry. The energetic and productive discussions on these subjects really showed how much support women have gained in their fight against rape and how much people-both men and women-want to bring cases of violence against women to justice.
Below is a picture of some women who were awarded for their hard work throughout the year, working for women’s empowerment. The two women on the left are my team members-Saidurnesha Khatun, who looks after both the children in the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (Home Schools) and the adolescent girl campaign, “WE DEMAND”, and Mungli Murmu who heads the Ajoli Food Processing Unit for AHIMSA.

I am also sharing with you a snapshot of participants from a Women's Day discussion on physical violence and threats faced by women from all classes. The speakers were Shahana Khatun and Sunanada Mukherjee. I moderated this discussion. 

The main problem brought up was the insecurity faced by women-of all classes-while traveling and commuting. The discussants talked about, in particular, the threats women receive from land mafia and other powerful bodies, and the often unsympathetic response of the authorities. The positive role of the media was also highlighted. In conclusion, the speakers felt that women needed to unite and protest jointly at events such as these. Everyone also agreed that the 8th of March was not just a day for being together, but that it continues to represent just one day in the enduring struggle for women's rights.