Friday, 10 March 2017

International Women’s Day: Are our dreams also Gendered?

“Aisa lagta hai hum apne liye jeete hi nahi hai!!”
“Kabhi socha hi nahi ki mera sapna kya hai, kabhi samay hi nahi mila”
“Nahi pata nahi kya sapna hai mera”

A simple question “What are the dreams that you see at this age of your life?” baffled many women sitting in the circle during the event ‘Kadam Milakar Chalna hoga’ organized by Sahas. It’s a very simple question, isn’t it? We are asked this question at various stages of our lives, starting at the tender age probably when we are 6 or 7 years old – what is your dream? What do you want to become? And there are many happy, confused, colorful, vivid answers to this. But many women don’t even have this basic opportunity or rather they don’t even know whether they can dream also? 

International Women’s Day holds a very important place in my heart, not just because I am a woman but also because few years back when I started my career in Journalism, the first program that I scripted and produced was for Women’s day, while the rest of the people were engrossed making special programs on the festival of Holi. And today when we are hosting ‘Kadam Mila kar chalna hoga’, I am witnessing a big leap in my life!

‘Kadam Mila kar chalna hoga’ was organized to celebrate International Women’s Day by starting the process of dialogue, conversations, and discussions with the women residing in Dwarka on the issues that concern us as women and as a society. We had also posted this event on the social media, just to share that we are celebrating Women’s day. Interestingly at 2.30 pm a Lady along with her mother came in to attend the event all the way from Noida Extension. At that point, I felt happy, responsible and also it restated the importance of the discourse that we were looking to start. One after other women were coming to attend the event and then around 7 women came together with my mamiji- I always hear that women don’t form great leaders or there are rare women leader, but for me my mother and my mami ji had emerged as amazing leaders who not only came for the event but also motivated others to come to the event with the very basic information about what will be happening in next few hours!  

We screened “Parched” a very beautiful movie directed by Leena Yadav. The seriousness in the room was overwhelming; the participants were hooked to the movie. There were no gossip, all the eyes were fixed on the screen and then there was out burst of laughter- on the scene where one of the women talks about verbal abuses being made by man and then she turns the abuses on the opposite gender! I had already watched Parched, for me- no other movie had talked about women’s sexuality in this way, at the same time I was in constant dilemma as to how this group will react to the film! And just when the film ended, there was huge round of applause in the form of thundering claps, I could see moist eyes, changing expressions and the dynamics of the room had changed. This was followed by inviting the participants to share on, ““What are your feelings, thoughts after watching this film?”

“Disheartening” “This is happening to each of us, less or more” “We are all suffering from this violence” 

“Women are just considered as baby delivering machines” 

“we are modern for saying, nothing really is different from what is shown in the film and the life that we live”
“we need to support each other” 

“Why everything that happens in our live is linked to family’s honor, why do we live with this burden” 

“We are considered sex slaves, men need us only for sex and his own pleasures, nobody talks about me, my desires. I feel restricted, for everything that I need to do I have to ask for permission”

“We women don’t have respect” 

“I loved when the mother in law treats her daughter in law as her daughter and let her live her own life”

The film “Parched” talks about dreams, desires and aspirations of women, we invited the participants to share on, “What are the dreams that you see at this age of your life?”

It took more than 10 minutes to make them understand that they need to write about the dreams they see for themselves, the dreams that only belong to them, the whole churning of facilitating this question to them thinking about it and writing it on the paper made me wonder “whether our dreams are also gendered?” Even after this process 4 to 5 women couldn’t think for a dream, that says why we need this International Women’s day so much!

“I want to take out an hour for myself in a day. I have been thinking about this, but couldn’t do it till now” shares a teacher, homemaker and mother of 2.

“I want to see people associated with me happy, I believe in god, so I want to see all the temples around the country”

“I want a well settled and happy life, travel around the world”
“Mein khule aasman mein jeena chahti hoo, puri duniya ghumna chahti hai. Mujhe pahad paani dekhna bahut accha lagta hai”
“I want to have well settled life, making my company one of the best, doing seva and travelling around the world”

One of the woman who couldn’t think for a dream before, shared that, “I am from Nanital, I always wanted to travel a lot, but I can’t”

After Mona shared her dream, two of the women said, “you are already doing that!”

It was an overwhelming and very interesting experience to co-create a space where participants first saw the reality through a film, than build discourse around the same and finally to be able to see things for themselves beginning with a dream! 

Also while all of us proceeded for refreshments, the commonality we discovered through the day helped not only build conversations but also helping them to be empathetic to each other’s problems or issues of the life. One such interesting conversations that would stay with me and motivate me to keep doing what I aspire to do was-
“It seems nothing can change. There is so much violence, I know this shouldn’t happen but there is no way out”, shares one participant
“I don’t agree to this, things are changing. Seeing this younger generations doing this kind of work that we couldn’t even talk about says a lot” shares another participant.

While there is no much violence happening all across our country against women, the rape threats given to women students, the whole environment of fear being created so that women don’t even dare to come out of their homes, we are trying to build a counter narrative through Sahas- building community – inviting people to come together, have conversations, think about themselves and empowering them to build their dreams and translate them into reality. 

Nothing makes me happier than this and for all those people who think why one day as Women’s day? Why don’t we celebrate Man’s day? Why Man’s day is not as popular as Women’s day? Why don’t we celebrate entire year? Please pause and think for yourself that why you are so resistant towards celebrating the women who gave you birth! Why do you also crib and talk about problems? It’s because you are still stuck to the shackles of power and patriarchy, you can’t accept the simple fact that it’s has taken such a long struggle since 1909 to have this one day- so I request you to please let your pseudo-intellectual self  rest for a day and let women have this one day to celebrate themselves :-)

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