Women’s workshop and Women’s Day: The women’s workshops have created a new space for women in the sangathan! We met the first time in December, 2014, then again on women’s day 8th march, then again in June and the last time we met in November was some sort of closure. As women involved with the sangathan, we had our set of discontents which some of us were raising. We said how we found ourselves in a minority when it came to leadership positions, how often our opinion was not asked for or summarily rejected, how we formed the majority of attendees at a public meeting but were rarely given an opportunity to address the public and so the sangathan tried to change its ways so some of us found that we were asked for our opinion in meetings, given the mike to address a public meeting and here was the real disappointment, barring one or maybe two women, the rest of us just had nothing to say! We felt shy and restless and put on a spot when we were given the centre stage. And that marked the quest to sit with a group of women and hopefully with a saathi from outside the sangathan to facilitate. When Kanika (a young woman worker of the NAPM) signed up for a women’s workshop, we got together for two days, our first women’s workshop. To read more about it click here.
And here in these workshops we collectivized our joys, our sorrows, our preference and society’s preference for a male child, the violence meted out to us. We played, we sang, we laughed, and you may believe it or not but we sometimes cried. Now remembering the sessions on patriarchy- it’s origins and how it plays out, body mapping, masculine and feminine characteristics and their linkage to biology and socialisation, menstrual cycle and menstrual hygiene, women’s health, forms of violence, various forms of discrimination in society, we feel we have covered so much ground. I feel more equal more human and that’s why when my opinion is asked in a meeting I talk, I know my voice is as valuable as a man’s. Previously we did not believe this because at every step our society points out the male superiority and as women we are as much victims of this thought of ‘male superiority’ as any man. Today we say our name, we introduce ourselves, when we are meted with violence we raise our voice, we don’t hold ourselves responsible for violence meted out to us and we try to be equal participants in our sangathan.