Choose To Challenge Is Not Just A Hashtag For Them
The courts told them to go away. They royally ignored and chose to come in droves. When the country and its administration sermonized that the protest sites were not for them, hordes of them flocked in to lay their claim on the space. Not only did these women claim, they owned that space. As we exchanged the mandatory ‘Happy Women’s Day’ messages and all those WhatsApp forwards that glorify women, these mighty women from our villages led the farmer protests from the frontlines.
I had promised myself not to post anything about Women’s Day (I actually took a break) because I believe that commemorating a day isn’t helping much towards women’s emancipation. However, I couldn’t ignore the sight of hundreds of thousands of yellow dupattas billowing in the wind when these women led the farmer protests on 8th of March. I unabashedly admit that I found myself succumbing to this brand of woman power.
This year the IWD 2021 campaign theme is #ChooseToChallenge and I quote from their website,
“A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.”
As women across the world raised their hands in solidarity to this theme, our rural women carried it off with swagger and pride. They may not even be aware of the theme but for me they will forever remain the epitome of it. They are seeing to it that every single word of every line in the above paragraph is attained.
Ever since the day they chose to join men in protests, they have been breaking stereotypes on a daily basis. Their presence is an effective challenge to the deep-rooted patriarchy of our country. Women have always been into farming just like their male counterparts but rarely acknowledged. Now they are forcing us to acknowledge their role as farmers; as stakeholders of the agrarian economy that till now was seen as a male bastion.
Their reasons to participate in the protests may have been driven by the repealing of the farm laws but it has come to mean so much more than just that. I feel that not only are they seeing themselves in a new light but the people around them are also seeing them for who they are. I hope that now when they have discovered their voice, they shall not let anyone silence it. They came to the protest sites to ensure that their future generations do not suffer and it’s heartening to see that they shall leave a much richer legacy for them than what they may have originally envisioned.
With the kind of privileges that I enjoy, it is relatively simpler for me to ‘choose to challenge’ but for these women it’s more than just a hashtag. It’s a lifetime of struggle to assert their presence, their choices and their voice. May God be with them.