March 10: A feminist show of solidarity in Nagpur against forces of hatred, injustice, dominance

womenBy Manjula Pradeep*

It isn’t everyday you get to cover a story of Dalit, Muslim, Adivasi, Bahujan, Minorities, Disabled, queer women, transgender people, sex workers, nomadic tribeswomen, students and many others discriminated against on the basis of caste, class, religion, community, sexuality, gender, disability, occupation or age coming together raise our voices against the forces of brahmanical, feudal, casteist patriarchy. It isn’t everyday that such a wide spectrum gathers to celebrate the life and legacy of Krantijyoti Savitri Bai Phule. Because it isn’t every day we Chalo Nagpur!

On 10 March 2017, 5,000 of us will be in Nagpur. Why Chalo Nagpur?

On 10 March 2017, the 120th remembrance day of Savitri Bai Phule, about 5000 women will come together in a massive show of solidarity against the forces of hatred, injustice and dominance. With songs, dance, art, poetry and theatre we confront the inequality, intolerance and the efforts to silence us that are growing all around – in villages and urban centres, on university campuses and at workspaces, in homes and on the streets – we will rise to assert our voice, our rights, and the protections guaranteed to us by the Constitution. Together, we will reiterate that in a secular, democratic state, no one has the right to discriminate, humiliate, violate, oppress, or commit atrocities against any person or community based on their identity.

We condemn countless cases of heinous gendered and sexual crimes by dominant castes and the state upon Dalit girls and women like Surekha Bhotmange of Khairlanji, Delta Meghwal of Rajasthan, the girls of Bhawana, Jisha from Kerala; adivasi women like Soni Sori of Bastar, 12 adolescent adivasi girl of Buldhana, the women of Bijapur; muslim women of Mewat and Muzaffarnagar, among so many others who have borne the brunt of aggressive Hindutva politics. We demand accountability and justice for all these women and the thousands more who suffer each year, and an immediate end to the impunity offered to perpetrators of such crimes by the state. We call for an end to such inequalities, violence, oppression and atrocities!

As leaders and activists of the women’s movement we come together on this new journey of struggle across our varied identities today. Inspired by the historic work and life of Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule, India’s first woman teacher, poet, writer and leading champion of women’s rights, who sounded a clarion call against Brahmanical casteist patriarchy in the 19th century by educating shudras and women, and exposing the hollowness of the Manusmriti, religious texts and Brahmanical social practices. After all, it was Savitribai who boycotted traditional restrictions imposed on women, and set us on our path to freedom. A path we walk together today to raise our voices for justice, friendship, peace, freedom, equality and dignity.

So Chalo Nagpur… the centre for Cultural and Social Revolution. The city where Dr BR Ambedkar mobilized the largest ever conference of women under the banner of the Scheduled Caste Federation – 30,000 women who came together to challenge patriarchy in radical ways that continue to inspire our feminisms and activism today!

Chalo Nagpur! 10 March 2017 will be a historic day when over 5000 women will gather and express themselves through speech and poetry, performances and art, songs and dance.

Chalo Nagpur is conceived, organized and funded by hundreds of individual women.

Chalo against Manuvad and Hindutva! Chalo against Brahmanvad and patriarchy! Chalo, mil ke chalein!

Place: Indora Maidan, Indora Chowk, Kamptee Road, Nagpur. Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Rainbow Salutes! Jai Savitri! Jai Fatima! Jai Bhim! Jai Birsa!

For more information:

*On behalf of organizers: Abhinya Kamble, Ajita Rao, Anita Ghai, Bittu Karthik Kondaiah, Chaya Khobragade, Durga Jha, Elina Horo, Jaya Sharma, Kiran Deshmukh, Lata Pratibha Madhukar, Madhavi Kuckreja, Manisha Bangar, Manjula Pradeep, Mariya Salim, Meena Seshu, Monisha Behal, Nisha Shinde, Nivedita Menon, Pradnya Bagade, Rajni Tilak, Rituparna Borah, Sangeeta Manoji, Sanghapali Aruna, Saroj Sagale, Shabnam Hashmi, Shabina Mumtaz, Shambhawi Vikram, Shymal Garud, Sheba George, Sujata Surepally, Syeda Hameed, Vasvi Kiro, Vimal Thorat

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