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Women of the World, Unite: An ode to women who stood up for the future of the world

​​​​​​​On International Women’s Day, a look at how women are standing up to change the world, one protest at a time

Priyanka Kavish 08 Mar 2020

womens day

Often referred to as the weaker, fairer sex, women around the world and their voices have been silenced under the din of patriarchy. Though throughout eras, there have been women who have managed to scream and make them heard; even for the betterment of their sisters; it is now, at this moment precisely that women across the world have put a collective foot forward, taken the narrative into their own hands, broken the glass ceiling and emerge as the voice of the universe.

From domestic violence to sexual abuse, equal rights and even overthrowing governments, women have now stood up to be the superpower that will hopefully make the sly rabble rousers and wrongdoers accountable for their actions now and in the future.

From India to Mexico, from Brazil to America, here is a look at how women are claiming their rights, not as the second gender, but the equal one.

 

India: From Razia Sultan to Savitribai Phule to the Dadis of Shaheen Bagh

India has produced historic iconic women who have championed various causes – be it education, science or art. Be it the valor of Razia Sultan – the first and last female ruler of Delhi who proved her worth as a just ruler, who was an ace administrator or the undying perseverance of Savitribai Phule who founded the first girls’ school in the country, India has witnessed a spurt in social reforms through the actions of such brave women.

From then to now, not much has changed. From women forces behind the success of Mangalyaan to Adivasi activists learning how to fight for their jal, jungle, zameen; women in India have now taken the centre stage in a bid to protect their identity.

Post the announcement of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the possible implementation of the nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) that is set to affect the minority communities and the marginalized, the women in India have hit the streets to make the government accountable of its fascism and repeal the above mentioned CAA and NRC.

This is possibly the first time that women have become the face of political protests in India. In Shaheen Bagh, a working-class, majority-Muslim neighborhood, the protests began with a small, peaceful sit-in and candlelit vigil by local women. It has been over 70 days now that the women continue undeterred by threats to their lives and possible police and state sponsored atrocities. With children in their laps, they shout slogans for a united and secular India.

Age no bar, it is now the grandmothers who are leading the protests from Shaheen Bagh in Delhi. Following their footsteps, women throughout India have become inspired to come out of their homes and take responsibility for their future and their childrens’ future with mini Shaheen Bagh’s sprouting all over the country.

With artwork, poetry recitals, interfaith prayers, community kitchens that keep the stomach full and the fire burning along with the Constitution of India in hand, the women are going from strength to strength to stand up with their sisters from different communities and overthrow the oppressive policies of the government.

Speaking to Time Magazine, veteran activist and the frontrunner in the Save Narmada Movement Medha Patkar said, “The specialty of a women-led movement is that they can be sustained longer. Women don’t give up. India sees women as shields, but in fact, they are the swords.”

 

Chile: ‘Never again without us women’

With the slogan - “Nunca más sin nosotras” – Never again without us women, the women in Chile are raising their voices against patriarchal violence, fighting for specific ender-related issues like an end to domestic violence, equality at the workplace and legal abortion, says Alondra Carrillo of La Coordinadora Feminista 8M, the largest feminist advocacy group, reports The Guardian.

The anti-rape song, Un Violador en Tu Camino - A Rapist in Your Path, popularized by a Chilean feminist collective, Las Tesis, was sung by women everywhere across the world to denounce the inaction of the police, judges and the highest authorities in preventing sexual violence.

The song read, “The patriarchy is a judge that judges us for being born, and our punishment is the violence you don’t see,” the chant begins. “It’s femicide. Impunity for the killer. It’s disappearance. It’s rape. And the fault wasn’t mine, not where I was, not how I dressed. … The rapist is you. It’s the cops, the judges, the state. The president. The oppressive state is a rapist.”

According to a report by the Chilean Network Against Violence Against Women, 42 cases of sexual abuse are reported each day. Paula Cometa, a member of Las Tesis told The Guardian that the song was never intended to be a protest song, but the women of the marches transformed it into something more.

She said, “It adapted to the moment that we are now living in Chile. The violence and the human rights violations that women have been exposed to recently.”

Talking about the part of the song where the performers squat down, assuming a position similar to that of arrest she said, “It’s a simple form of torture and punishment carried out by the Chilean police.”

Feminists in Chile say that the right-wing government hasn’t done much to address women’s issues. Belén Calcagno, a woman organizing protests throughout the country says that women have always pushed social movements in Chile.

Camila Vallejo, the former student protest leader said, “We will all march for our own reasons. But every woman will march for her own reasons, and on 8 March we will unite with a common demand: to be respected.”

 

Mexico: ‘This is our feminist spring’

3,825 Mexican women were killed in 2019, out of which the government accounted 1,006 to be femicides – where women are killed because of their gender.

On March 9, the women in Mexico are planning a national strike #UNDIASINMUJERES, or “a day without women” to throw light on the unending violence on women there. On Monday, March 9, women in Mexico will stay off the streets and purchase nothing throughout the day to put across the message – “what if we all just disappeared?”

A total of 1,006 killings were officially classified as femicides, based on a variety of criteria, including whether the victim’s body showed any signs of sexual violence and whether there had been a “sentimental” relationship between the victim and the killer, reported the LA Times.

Now, a call for action is growing louder and protestors are bringing the world’s attention to the failure of the Mexican government to put a stop to the femicides. Speaking to The New York Times, Sabina Berman, a Mexican novelist and feminist activist, said that the nucleus of these latest protests was a younger generation of women who have lost patience with a more measured approach to activism.

Last month, masked feminists covered the presidential palace with blood-red paint and graffiti, calling out the president’s failure to protect women.  

“This is not the fight against any government,” she said. “t is against the entire Mexican state, against the private sector, against the men who harass, who rape, who kill, and against those good men who stand by and do nothing.”

Carolina Barrales, one of the founders of Circulo Violeta, a Tijuana-based feminist collective says, “This is our feminist spring here in Tijuana … and we won’t stop until we get justice.”

 

Fighting to keep the world safe – From India to Brazil to Greta Thunberg

Citizen’s for Justice and Peace, an NGO, tells us the story of Sokalo Gond – the Adivasi warrior, a human rights defender and one of the most important forces in the struggle for the implementation of forest rights act 2006 in Sonbhadra, a heavilty forested region in Uttar Pradesh.

It also tells us the story of Rajkumari Bhuiya, resident of Sukhda tola [hamlet] in Dhuma village, near Dudhi in Uttar Pradesh who has traveled far and wide to educate people about their rights on their lands for they are dependent on the forest for their livelihoods.

Adivasis often collect Tendu leaves, honey, dry branches and medicinal herbs from the forests and sell those in the markets. Some also have small farms, on which they grow rice or different vegetables. Many Adivasis living in the region have been denied of their lands and rights because of the Sections 4 and 20 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927-a colonial legislation to regulate the movement and transit of forest produce. Many Adivasis have also been charged with false cases under this Act.

The entire region is affected by industrial pollution and displacement of local people has become a regular phenomenon. Researches have pointed out that Sonebhadra’s waters have become poisoned and the air toxic to breathe.

Speaking to CJP Sokalo recounted the horrific firing she and her fellow protestors were subjected to by the police when they were agitating against the Kanhar Dam project. “18 rounds were fired right in front of my eyes. It was terrible. They arrested almost all the women leaders including Rajkumari immediately,” she recalled.

However, encouraged by her and Rajkumari’s unwavering spirit, Adivasis in the region began to file claims to land as a community resource under relevant provisions of the Forest Rights Act 2006.

In Brazil, the indigenous women, the keepers of the Amazon rainforest, came out against President Jair Bolsonaro, also known as the ‘Trump of the Tropics’ and his campaign of destruction claiming that the Amazon forest fires were started deliberately.

Since his inauguration earlier this year, Bolsonaro has worked to dismantle key protections and policies that protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and the Amazon in Brazil. His administration’s devastating assaults on social and environmental protections has led to a surge in deforestation and violations of Indigenous Rights, culminating now in massive fires, reported commondreams.org.

The indigenous women in Brazil have been speaking up for years, in shrill voices, warning about the dangers to the Amazon due to demands of fossil fuel and mining which have been emboldened under Bolsonaro’s administration.

The women’s march in Brazil in 2019, marked another step forward for women-led protests for the protection of the Amazon. Speaking with Amazon Frontlines, Nemonte Nenquimo, Waorani leader and President of the regional Waorani political organization of Pastaza, CONCONAWEP, who led her people’s struggle and triumph against the Ecuadorian government, said, “Around the world, the governments are trying to kill us. They want to exploit our lands with no regard for us as human beings. Yet we are the guardians and owners of our territories, which we have cared for and protected for thousands of years. We want to protect our land for the future generations. We want our forest to be free from contamination, free from destruction.”

Across Brazil, indigenous women are taking the baton to spearhead resistance movements for Mother Earth which gives them life. Indigenous leader Sonia Guajajara rightly put it when she said, “We don’t have to accept the destruction of our rights. ubmission is not culture. We are here to demystify the idea that indigenous women do not participate in this struggle and to demonstrate that we are prepared to occupy any space.”

 

Another powerful woman, Greta Thunberg – a Swedish teenage climate activist, deserves a special mention. She began with holding a placard that read, “School Strike for Climate” when she started missing school on Fridays to strike against climate change, while urging students across the world to join her.

Her activism went viral on social media and climate change had a new hashtag #FridaysForFuture. Little did she anticipate in August 2018, around when she started the movement that by December 2018, more than 20,000 students across the world would join her in her fight to protect the earth.

Choosing to travel by road and waterways to practice what she preached, she also travelled to New York in 2019 to address a United Nations climate change conference in a yacht, enduring a journey of over two weeks, to educate people of the consequences of air travel.

She was named Time Magazine’s Person of the year in 2019 after she pulled up world leaders as she boomed into the mic at the climate change conference saying, “How dare you? I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you?"

 

She has been mocked by Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, but that has not knocked her down. In her fight to make authorities accountable for their actions against the environment and in her protests to create awareness for cutting down carbon emissions, Greta is one girl, who has inspired everyone to fight for the world they live in and that the future children will inherit.

To write about the brave women of the world, all the pages would not be enough. From fighting against sexual abuse to fighting for equal pay, from fighting against domestic violence to fighting for legalizing abortion and reclaiming reproductive rights, from fighting for education to fighting for an identity; women have now broken all shackles to truly identify their power and demand what is theirs.

It is now, with collective solidarity and empathy, that women have found the courage to overcome their fears and march ahead as their own savior.

 

Related:

Sisterhood unites to fight oppression: Forest workers meet Shaheen Bagh protesters

प्रमिला ताईंच्या शब्दातून कत्तल झालेल्या झाडांची व्यथा

Maa aur Mulk - the non-negotiability of Muslim identity

Women of the World, Unite: An ode to women who stood up for the future of the world

​​​​​​​On International Women’s Day, a look at how women are standing up to change the world, one protest at a time

womens day

Often referred to as the weaker, fairer sex, women around the world and their voices have been silenced under the din of patriarchy. Though throughout eras, there have been women who have managed to scream and make them heard; even for the betterment of their sisters; it is now, at this moment precisely that women across the world have put a collective foot forward, taken the narrative into their own hands, broken the glass ceiling and emerge as the voice of the universe.

From domestic violence to sexual abuse, equal rights and even overthrowing governments, women have now stood up to be the superpower that will hopefully make the sly rabble rousers and wrongdoers accountable for their actions now and in the future.

From India to Mexico, from Brazil to America, here is a look at how women are claiming their rights, not as the second gender, but the equal one.

 

India: From Razia Sultan to Savitribai Phule to the Dadis of Shaheen Bagh

India has produced historic iconic women who have championed various causes – be it education, science or art. Be it the valor of Razia Sultan – the first and last female ruler of Delhi who proved her worth as a just ruler, who was an ace administrator or the undying perseverance of Savitribai Phule who founded the first girls’ school in the country, India has witnessed a spurt in social reforms through the actions of such brave women.

From then to now, not much has changed. From women forces behind the success of Mangalyaan to Adivasi activists learning how to fight for their jal, jungle, zameen; women in India have now taken the centre stage in a bid to protect their identity.

Post the announcement of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the possible implementation of the nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) that is set to affect the minority communities and the marginalized, the women in India have hit the streets to make the government accountable of its fascism and repeal the above mentioned CAA and NRC.

This is possibly the first time that women have become the face of political protests in India. In Shaheen Bagh, a working-class, majority-Muslim neighborhood, the protests began with a small, peaceful sit-in and candlelit vigil by local women. It has been over 70 days now that the women continue undeterred by threats to their lives and possible police and state sponsored atrocities. With children in their laps, they shout slogans for a united and secular India.

Age no bar, it is now the grandmothers who are leading the protests from Shaheen Bagh in Delhi. Following their footsteps, women throughout India have become inspired to come out of their homes and take responsibility for their future and their childrens’ future with mini Shaheen Bagh’s sprouting all over the country.

With artwork, poetry recitals, interfaith prayers, community kitchens that keep the stomach full and the fire burning along with the Constitution of India in hand, the women are going from strength to strength to stand up with their sisters from different communities and overthrow the oppressive policies of the government.

Speaking to Time Magazine, veteran activist and the frontrunner in the Save Narmada Movement Medha Patkar said, “The specialty of a women-led movement is that they can be sustained longer. Women don’t give up. India sees women as shields, but in fact, they are the swords.”

 

Chile: ‘Never again without us women’

With the slogan - “Nunca más sin nosotras” – Never again without us women, the women in Chile are raising their voices against patriarchal violence, fighting for specific ender-related issues like an end to domestic violence, equality at the workplace and legal abortion, says Alondra Carrillo of La Coordinadora Feminista 8M, the largest feminist advocacy group, reports The Guardian.

The anti-rape song, Un Violador en Tu Camino - A Rapist in Your Path, popularized by a Chilean feminist collective, Las Tesis, was sung by women everywhere across the world to denounce the inaction of the police, judges and the highest authorities in preventing sexual violence.

The song read, “The patriarchy is a judge that judges us for being born, and our punishment is the violence you don’t see,” the chant begins. “It’s femicide. Impunity for the killer. It’s disappearance. It’s rape. And the fault wasn’t mine, not where I was, not how I dressed. … The rapist is you. It’s the cops, the judges, the state. The president. The oppressive state is a rapist.”

According to a report by the Chilean Network Against Violence Against Women, 42 cases of sexual abuse are reported each day. Paula Cometa, a member of Las Tesis told The Guardian that the song was never intended to be a protest song, but the women of the marches transformed it into something more.

She said, “It adapted to the moment that we are now living in Chile. The violence and the human rights violations that women have been exposed to recently.”

Talking about the part of the song where the performers squat down, assuming a position similar to that of arrest she said, “It’s a simple form of torture and punishment carried out by the Chilean police.”

Feminists in Chile say that the right-wing government hasn’t done much to address women’s issues. Belén Calcagno, a woman organizing protests throughout the country says that women have always pushed social movements in Chile.

Camila Vallejo, the former student protest leader said, “We will all march for our own reasons. But every woman will march for her own reasons, and on 8 March we will unite with a common demand: to be respected.”

 

Mexico: ‘This is our feminist spring’

3,825 Mexican women were killed in 2019, out of which the government accounted 1,006 to be femicides – where women are killed because of their gender.

On March 9, the women in Mexico are planning a national strike #UNDIASINMUJERES, or “a day without women” to throw light on the unending violence on women there. On Monday, March 9, women in Mexico will stay off the streets and purchase nothing throughout the day to put across the message – “what if we all just disappeared?”

A total of 1,006 killings were officially classified as femicides, based on a variety of criteria, including whether the victim’s body showed any signs of sexual violence and whether there had been a “sentimental” relationship between the victim and the killer, reported the LA Times.

Now, a call for action is growing louder and protestors are bringing the world’s attention to the failure of the Mexican government to put a stop to the femicides. Speaking to The New York Times, Sabina Berman, a Mexican novelist and feminist activist, said that the nucleus of these latest protests was a younger generation of women who have lost patience with a more measured approach to activism.

Last month, masked feminists covered the presidential palace with blood-red paint and graffiti, calling out the president’s failure to protect women.  

“This is not the fight against any government,” she said. “t is against the entire Mexican state, against the private sector, against the men who harass, who rape, who kill, and against those good men who stand by and do nothing.”

Carolina Barrales, one of the founders of Circulo Violeta, a Tijuana-based feminist collective says, “This is our feminist spring here in Tijuana … and we won’t stop until we get justice.”

 

Fighting to keep the world safe – From India to Brazil to Greta Thunberg

Citizen’s for Justice and Peace, an NGO, tells us the story of Sokalo Gond – the Adivasi warrior, a human rights defender and one of the most important forces in the struggle for the implementation of forest rights act 2006 in Sonbhadra, a heavilty forested region in Uttar Pradesh.

It also tells us the story of Rajkumari Bhuiya, resident of Sukhda tola [hamlet] in Dhuma village, near Dudhi in Uttar Pradesh who has traveled far and wide to educate people about their rights on their lands for they are dependent on the forest for their livelihoods.

Adivasis often collect Tendu leaves, honey, dry branches and medicinal herbs from the forests and sell those in the markets. Some also have small farms, on which they grow rice or different vegetables. Many Adivasis living in the region have been denied of their lands and rights because of the Sections 4 and 20 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927-a colonial legislation to regulate the movement and transit of forest produce. Many Adivasis have also been charged with false cases under this Act.

The entire region is affected by industrial pollution and displacement of local people has become a regular phenomenon. Researches have pointed out that Sonebhadra’s waters have become poisoned and the air toxic to breathe.

Speaking to CJP Sokalo recounted the horrific firing she and her fellow protestors were subjected to by the police when they were agitating against the Kanhar Dam project. “18 rounds were fired right in front of my eyes. It was terrible. They arrested almost all the women leaders including Rajkumari immediately,” she recalled.

However, encouraged by her and Rajkumari’s unwavering spirit, Adivasis in the region began to file claims to land as a community resource under relevant provisions of the Forest Rights Act 2006.

In Brazil, the indigenous women, the keepers of the Amazon rainforest, came out against President Jair Bolsonaro, also known as the ‘Trump of the Tropics’ and his campaign of destruction claiming that the Amazon forest fires were started deliberately.

Since his inauguration earlier this year, Bolsonaro has worked to dismantle key protections and policies that protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and the Amazon in Brazil. His administration’s devastating assaults on social and environmental protections has led to a surge in deforestation and violations of Indigenous Rights, culminating now in massive fires, reported commondreams.org.

The indigenous women in Brazil have been speaking up for years, in shrill voices, warning about the dangers to the Amazon due to demands of fossil fuel and mining which have been emboldened under Bolsonaro’s administration.

The women’s march in Brazil in 2019, marked another step forward for women-led protests for the protection of the Amazon. Speaking with Amazon Frontlines, Nemonte Nenquimo, Waorani leader and President of the regional Waorani political organization of Pastaza, CONCONAWEP, who led her people’s struggle and triumph against the Ecuadorian government, said, “Around the world, the governments are trying to kill us. They want to exploit our lands with no regard for us as human beings. Yet we are the guardians and owners of our territories, which we have cared for and protected for thousands of years. We want to protect our land for the future generations. We want our forest to be free from contamination, free from destruction.”

Across Brazil, indigenous women are taking the baton to spearhead resistance movements for Mother Earth which gives them life. Indigenous leader Sonia Guajajara rightly put it when she said, “We don’t have to accept the destruction of our rights. ubmission is not culture. We are here to demystify the idea that indigenous women do not participate in this struggle and to demonstrate that we are prepared to occupy any space.”

 

Another powerful woman, Greta Thunberg – a Swedish teenage climate activist, deserves a special mention. She began with holding a placard that read, “School Strike for Climate” when she started missing school on Fridays to strike against climate change, while urging students across the world to join her.

Her activism went viral on social media and climate change had a new hashtag #FridaysForFuture. Little did she anticipate in August 2018, around when she started the movement that by December 2018, more than 20,000 students across the world would join her in her fight to protect the earth.

Choosing to travel by road and waterways to practice what she preached, she also travelled to New York in 2019 to address a United Nations climate change conference in a yacht, enduring a journey of over two weeks, to educate people of the consequences of air travel.

She was named Time Magazine’s Person of the year in 2019 after she pulled up world leaders as she boomed into the mic at the climate change conference saying, “How dare you? I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you?"

 

She has been mocked by Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, but that has not knocked her down. In her fight to make authorities accountable for their actions against the environment and in her protests to create awareness for cutting down carbon emissions, Greta is one girl, who has inspired everyone to fight for the world they live in and that the future children will inherit.

To write about the brave women of the world, all the pages would not be enough. From fighting against sexual abuse to fighting for equal pay, from fighting against domestic violence to fighting for legalizing abortion and reclaiming reproductive rights, from fighting for education to fighting for an identity; women have now broken all shackles to truly identify their power and demand what is theirs.

It is now, with collective solidarity and empathy, that women have found the courage to overcome their fears and march ahead as their own savior.

 

Related:

Sisterhood unites to fight oppression: Forest workers meet Shaheen Bagh protesters

प्रमिला ताईंच्या शब्दातून कत्तल झालेल्या झाडांची व्यथा

Maa aur Mulk - the non-negotiability of Muslim identity

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