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Global
South Asian Women Hope For Good Work And Fair Wages
Anuradha Shukla

Delhi-based Girija, 35, has to provide for her three children, and this responsibility does not allow her to rest easy. Whereas earlier, she used to roll incense sticks, these days, she embroiders ‘kurtas’ (shirts) for a local designer who pays her Rs 120 for a set of three. Failing eyesight and severe backache notwithstanding, Girija does what she has to “because I need the money”. In Peshawar, Huma is part of a group of women that weaves blankets for an exporter although they get a paltry Rs 15 per finished piece. With rigid social barriers and the lack of education hampering their prospects of getting organised work these poor women are only glad to get some money of their own. Mother-of-two, Nauheen, who works in a textile unit in Dhaka, gets just a few hundred takas for long hours of labour and is also vulnerable to sexual harassment. Girija, Huma, Nauheen may be separated by geographical boundary but their fate is similar. As informal sector workers in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, respectively, they live and work in pitiable conditions and are prone to exploitation and ill-health. But not for long – if organisations like Women In Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) and HomeNet South Asia, that are committed to securing their rights, have any say in the matter.

“Forming a group or a union certainly helps. I am working for a group in Kathmandu that makes ‘bindis’ and apparel. Since we got organised we are much better paid.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: QQQO216 1290 words


India
An Italian In India: Sculpting Narratives Against Trafficking
Bhanu Priya Vyas

Two years ago, Italian sculptor and artist Janine Von Thungen met Ruchira Gupta, founder of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an anti-trafficking organisation, who took her to a children’s home in Najafgarh, a bustling urban village on the fringes of Delhi. There she met children of sex workers and those who came from families that were into prostitution, many of whom had been told that “they have to only get married and become a prostitute”. Thungen, 50, a mother of two daughters, was shocked and surprised. Like all teenagers, these girls, too, were fun-loving, mischievous, liked flattery and harboured dreams of becoming doctors, teachers, even make-up artists, but this world of possibilities was not open to them. The evocative interaction prompted her to create a series of sculptures, representative of all defenceless teenage girls, who end up falling prey to trafficking and prostitution. Of course, unlike most art work, which viewers can only appreciate from a distance, Thungen’s armless girl structured with wire mesh, encourages people to tie an ‘aware of sex trafficking’ band around it and pull out a few strands of the synthetic hair, that form the core of the sculpture, as a take back.

“I hope when I visit next, I will find the wire mesh empty and many more people around me armed with knowledge about sex trafficking and agenda to curtail it.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO219 1200 words


India
In Rajasthan, Budgeting To Safeguard Mothers
Annapurna Jha

An hour’s drive from the bustling town of Chittorgarh, the celebrated land of heroic warriors in Rajasthan, meet Suman Jain, a modern-day “soldier”, from Bheru Singhji ka Kheda village, who is striving to provide equitable healthcare to mothers and children in the area. Jain, an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA), is working closely with the Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Committee (VHSNC) to enhance the quality of services provided at the nearby Health Sub-Centre (HSC), in addition to improving the state of sanitation and hygiene there. As one of the co-signatories to the bank account that receives untied funds for shoring up healthcare, among other facilities in the village, under the National Health Mission, Jain is thrilled that she has been able to affect some real change. Since 2012-13, the VHSNC has been getting this valuable sum that they utilise the way they deem fit in consensus with the people. Today, like Bheru Singhji ka Kheda, there are 95 villages across Chittorgarh and Pratapgarh districts, where the VHSNC is actively using this money to buy basic medical supplies and refurbish infrastructure not just in the HSC but the village, too

“We have purchased a weighing scale and a BP machine as we know this would facilitate the check up of pregnant women and young children. In addition, we have got a tank with tap installed at the HSC from the money allotted for the year 2013-14.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO210O 1240 words


India
Three Years and Counting… Striking, Rising, Dancing Against Violence And P
Chetna Verma

“We lie to ourselves that ‘it is my choice’. Most of the things done by women are to please the society. We are the target of capitalist patriarchy, pornography, trafficking and cosmetic industry. They want us to surrender but we must rise against it.”… On the streets where eve teasers roam free and from where rapists can pick up any woman they want to violate and brutalise in the worst possible ways, in offices where women are vulnerable to sexual harassment, inside homes from where the vicious cycle of gender discrimination begins, and in each and every space where patriarchy rears its ugly head, thousands of girls and women have answered the call of the One Billion Rising (OBR) movement - to break the chains of confinement, dance to the tunes of freedom and speak up loud and clear against gender violence. As far as movements go, OBR, which has completed three years, “celebrates and liberates” women everywhere, encouraging them to “stop seeing themselves as victims” and “take back control of their lives”. Rural and urban, illiterate and learned, able and disabled, women, men and alternate genders, everyone under the inclusive OBR umbrella has found a voice and heart to demand a society that sees women as individuals in their own right and not as puppets who merely fulfil their gendered roles.

“How do we liberate ourselves from the stranglehold of patriarchy? We dance, we sing, we take to the streets.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO213J 1200 words


India
Women In Navy Sail Off To New Frontiers
Hema Vijay

Perhaps the most defining image from this year’s grand Republic Day parade – that played host to US President Barack Obama – was that of the all-women contingent of the three armed forces marching smartly down the Rajpath in Delhi for the first time ever. Though the Indian forces opened up to women in 1992 they are still kept away from direct combat roles. Nevertheless, female officers always find a way to distinguish themselves – just like Lt Vartika Joshi and Cdr Gutta Sowjanya Sree from the Indian Navy, and Asst Cmdt Vasundhara Chouksey from the Indian Coast Guard have by successfully navigating the rough seas between Chennai and Kochi recently. Considering that women in the navy are largely limited to on-shore jobs this trio has now proved that there is no gender divide that can stop them from sailing off to new frontiers.

“We are certainly moving towards more frontline roles for women in the armed forces… now women are slowly getting the opportunity to go onboard warships.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO211 1100 words
 
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