Thursday, April 5, 2018

Swadhina Women's Day Observed in remote vilages



This year’s theme of the UN on Women’s Day was very much dear to the heart of Swadhina : “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.

This year, International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women has captured headlines and became the prime issue of public discourse, propelled by a rising determination for change. People around the world are mobilizing for a future that is more equal.

Swadhina Team very decisively planned to have this year’s events organised in various rural areas of our working area.

Hence 4 such programmes were held at
Benasol Village Panchayat Bhavan, near Mosaboni in Jharkhand State          
Ghatsila Little Angel School Hall in East Singbhum in Jharkhand State
Bhuruduboni Village Primary Schol Hall in Mayurbhanj in Orissa state
Laka Village Loyola School Hall in Barabazar, Purulia in West Bengal State
Here are narrative reports of the events based on notes shared by our team mates attending them.

Benasole:East Singbhum, Jharkhand
Benasol  is a tribal village amidst forest. This is a copper mine area, though most of the mines are now inoperative. Our programme was to start at 9 in the morning. We camped at Ghatsila, a place about 10 kilometres away from the village. We finally got an auto- rickshaw (a small motorised 3-wheeler) which was small for our team of 5 and along with the large bags containing banners, posters, hand mike it was indeed an adventure-ride ! It was a slow moving vehicle and by the time we reached the venue it was already well past 8 a.m. The venue was local Panchayat Community Hall.  We were seated  in a large circle.

The event started with a welcome address by Ms. Smriti Sarkar who is the Chairperson of Swadhina. We already carried with us Hindi handout on the theme of this year’s Women's Day.  Ms.Yeshoda Mardi  a local tribal leader did the interpretation of this simultaneously into local tribal language that is Santhali. Thereafter  it was a time to rejoice. Many women came forward to sing traditional songs in their own tribal language i.e. Santhali, Mundari,  Ho, Oraon and  it was also time to plan out the various ways by which women's lives can be transformed and empowered. The pointers found were -  Women's Education,  Social Awareness,  Health - especially of  Mother and
Child , Animal Care - especially domestic animals since they form the part of income generation in this area and Kitchen Vegetable Gardens,   which can not only give them a supplement income but also can boost the nutritional need of the family. There was a small Felicitation function to honour Ms. Sarathi Soy – a tribal mother. Even though she is not educated she had struggled hard to see that her two girl children get proper education. She was given a small token gift. This gave encouragement to all present to promote child education for the girl child. It was then resolved to open an education support centre for girls willing to go for hire high school studies. At the end of the event,  each participant was gifted two packets of vegetable seeds- a symbolic gesture so that they can go back home and sow the seeds of hope ! The program concluded with all the participants holding hands and singing together  We Shall Overcome in hindi language. All the participants shared the snacks packets distributed at the conclusion. 32 participants attended held on 8th March 2018.

Ghatsila, East Singbhum, Jharkhand
International Women’s Day was observed at Little Angels School, Ghatsila at 3.00pm on 8th March.  33 teachers, social worker, students and Swadhina workers participated in the programme. Saswati Roy welcomed the participants.  The programme started with a Tagore song “Aguner Parasmoni”.  Rina Sircar explained the significance of the observation of International Women’s Day.  After her talk many of the participants exposed their talents in different field of art and culture like singing songs, dance performance, reciting own poem etc. and it was like a celebration - of liberation, empowerment.  At the end of the day all joined together in singing the Swadhina theme song- ‘manush to ekdin jagbei jagbei’ (people will arise and awake)  The meet ended with sharing snack packets distributed among the participants .

Laka Village, Borabazar, Purulia District, West Bengal
On the occasion of International Women’s Day a programme was organized by Swadhina at Laka village of West Bengal.  100 women and men participated in this programme.  Swadhina is working in this area since last several years towards women’s empowerment through events like observation of  Environment Day, Children’s Day, Literacy day, organising different training like animal rearing, vaccination, kitchen Gardening etc. Recently Swadhina organized a Health and Nutrition training and participants of today’s programme were also present in that programme.  Swadhina also very recently organized an Environment Festival named Basundhara Mela at Taladih village.  Many local women participated this festival through them we created awareness on environment protection.  For animal rearing we arranged goats for 40 women.  The 50% of the cost of goat  was provided by Swadhina and the rest given by the beneficiaries. Same was also done for the pig rearing programme.  Till date Swadhina provided pigs for 9 families. In near future many more families would be benefitted from this programme.

The programme organizer Ms Rina Acharya presented a talk on the significance of the day.  Quiz, songs in tribal language, recitation, group dance - all their performance made the day very eventful and enjoyable to the participating women. 
After the closing of Women’s Day programme 12 women from very needy families were provided 5 eggs for hatching for duck rearing activities.  From this they would be able to get Khaki Kambel ducklings from those eggs. 
 The programme concluded with the Swadhina song “manush to ekdin jagbei, jagbei” by all the participants and a snacks packet was given to all participants.

Bhurudubani, Mayurbhanj, Orissa
Like every year,  this year too International Women’s Day was observed by Swadhina, Orissa.unit.  This was organized at Vurudoboni primary School a remote area of  Orissa. 

49 women and a few men participated in the same.  The programme started with a rally from Vurudoboni junction road to parimary school at 2.00pm. Ms Nirmala Sahu inaugurated the programme with a folk
song.  After that she explained the significance of the day.  Local ICDS worker Heera Tudu spoke on wormen’s right in Santhali language.  Social worker Monorama Tudu shared her experience of how the local women could enhance their income by self-helf group. Mukhiya Fudu Majhi and Ram Majhi spoke on women’s rights and they also said that the women must be aware about their rights. 

Rashmi Rekha Majhi said that till date women are bound by illiteracy and superstitions and other social norms.  We have to break these barriers and women have to take initiative to
stand against these social evils.  Some of the participants sang song in odia language. To make the programme meaningful from Swadhina two women were felicitated with a wall clock each for their contribution towards educating their girl children . Even though they are working as day labour having very meagre income, still they continued their daughters’ higher studies and upbringing their children. The programme concluded with  a tiffin packet distributed among the participants.

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