Just a week ahead of the upcoming 2019 General Assembly elections, thousands of women across the country hit the streets.
What is the women’s march about?
The women raised a collective voice against the current environment of hate and violence, where the freedom to speak is curbed. Reportedly, the women have said that the march was meant for them to claim their constitutional rights. They vowed to vote out the “anti-women, anti-worker and anti-dalit” Narendra Modi government.
Women in all major parts of the city were seen carrying posters, banners, effigies and sometimes entire sarees with meaningful messages and slogans written on them. The protest which reportedly took place across 20 states and 146 cities was a rare sight to be seen. This march was held under the banner, “Women March 4 Change”.
Shabnam Hashmi from ANHAD, one of the organisers in Delhi, told Newsclick, “From what we have been able to gather, the Women March for Change is happening across 20 states in over a 100 places. The march is an open call to women voters to come out and counter the blatant attack on the Idea of India, the already shrinking space of dissent, to save our institutions and our democratic character.”
What are they demanding?
Over the last few decades, women voters have created quite an impact in India. In the last elections in 2014, a record 65.3 per cent the country’s 260 million women had voted. While the Modi government has launched a number of flagship programmes for women’s upliftment, women want 33% reservation in jobs and politics and raised slogans of “Azadi lekar rahenge”.
According to NDTV, activist Aruna Roy said, “If we get this government back, women will lose two fundamental rights– the right to freedom of expression and right to equality– because they (centre) are threatening to change the Constitution.” She said that over the last four years, violence has been on the rise and that for her, it is absolutely necessary that the Modi government does not come to power.
While this was the situation in Delhi, Kolkata saw the participation of over 2,500 women and people from the marginalised and transgender community as well. Filmmaker and actor Aparna Sen who addressed the rally in Kolkata said, “Women of all identities should find equal opportunity of work and livelihood,” reported The Telegraph.