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PRESS RELEASE

 

New Delhi, February 3, 2017: Over the last five years, the One Billion Rising campaign (OBR) has brought together over half a million young people, rural and urban women, men and a cross-section of communities from as many as 25 states and 300 districts. The numbers are also growing globally with 200 countries, including the eight South Asian nations, observing OBR Day.

IMG-20170203-WA0016.jpgAs attacks on women and girls shake the country, OBR has emerged as a global platform that civil society, including community collectives, are using to amplify their voices to challenge structural injustices. The campaign has attracted large numbers of people who see it as offering an alternative paradigm through which to engage with the world; one in which the power of love and not the love of power is celebrated.

As recently as January 29, 2017, students of Karve Institute of Social Services who had planned to conduct an awareness campaign on ending violence against women, decided to make common cause with the OBR campaign. Explaining this decision, Neha said, “We consider it our duty and responsibility towards society and humanity to be part of this larger effort to raise awareness on the issue.” There are scores of such examples of youth groups and community collectives from all over the country joining the OBR campaign.

Affirming the statement, Kamla Bhasin, feminist, activist and South Asia Coordinator of the OBR campaign, spoke of how “OBR has expanded and deepened our friendships and networks locally and globally and enhanced our creativity. Moreover, this global campaign has strengthened our resolve and courage. During 2017, we will be raising our voices against the exploitation of women workers and reiterating our solidarity with them.

This year, OBR Day will be organized at Central Park, Delhi on February 5, 2017 to raise consciousness and give expression to the ‘Rise’ of the billion movers and shakers through dance, theatre and music and thereby leverage the power of global solidarity and collective action. In fact, the many communities and groups that gather there will use various cultural and artistic forms to express their zero tolerance for violence against women and their solidarity with millions of women who are struggling to secure the rights they are entitled to as workers. The organizations who are partnering and shaping the OBR event will also take this campaign forward across bastis and settlements in Delhi and NCR, on February 14, 2017, to commemorate the day the campaign was launched in 2013.

On January 19, 2017, as part of a series of Risings bringing together art and activism, campaign partners held an evening of soulful music, spreading messages of peace, harmony, and love. Artists included renowned Sufi singer Sonam Kalra, Kabir and Baul musicians Shabnam Virmani and Parvathy Baul, as well as a student choir called Dhwani.

The success of the campaign lies in its ever expanding reach, which is bringing together diverse communities and groups from Dalits and disabled women to religious minorities; with each of the communities and regions adapting and customizing the event to ensure that they are grounded in their realities, concerns and priorities. This year, the focus of the One Billion Rising is on the active involvement of women workers, including garment workers and sex workers.

Speaking on behalf on a Sex Workers’ Network, Bharati Dey, Advisor, All India Network of Sex Workers said, “We face violence on a daily bases and it is not just from customers but also the police who exploit us because of the “illegal status” of our work. Sex workers should also be recognized as other women workers because this is what we do for a living”

Reinforcing the core values of the OBR platform, Shabnam Hashmi, activist stated, “The One Billion Rising campaign has been able to break barriers and reach out to a huge number of people who have not been part of any feminist and progressive movement. More importantly, it has ignited the imagination of the new generation.”

As part of the inclusive outreach, the OBR events will also focus on the engagement and participation of men as allies in the struggle against violence on women and girls.

Patriarchy is damaging women but at the same time it is also damaging menwhich is very dangerous for them. Therefore, men must come out and dismantle patriarchy to save themselves as well as women. Patriarchy and hegemonic masculinity are a danger to all of humanity. It has become imperative to work with men to challenge both patriarchy and masculinity”, notes Satish Kumar Singh, Additional Director, Center for Health and Social Justice.

 This year, OBR partners also joined hands with the activist collective “I Will Go Out”, which was a campaign against street harassment. Undeterred by the persisting discrimination and neglect, growing incidence of violence and the many threats and efforts to silence and shame them, women supported by men and children, are now showing their determination to reclaim spaces that were being denied to them by defying time embargos, reveling in the joys of the night, occupying the streets and demanding rightful access to public transport; thereby altering people’s perceptions of women as the weaker sex that must be kept caged within four walls.

The need of the hour is to focus on the various oppressive structures that affect women and girls: capitalist patriarchy, corporate media, mindless consumerism, cosmetic industries and exorbitant dowries. Therefore, the emphasis must be on questioning these and other frameworks that perpetuate the psychological and economic abuse of women.

PRESS RELEASE- ONE BILLION RISING – 2016

                                 ONE BILLION RISING – 2016

New Delhi, 14 Feb. 2016: One Billion Rising is the biggest mass action to end violence against women in human history. The campaign, launched on 14th February 2013, began as a call to action based on the staggering statistics that 1 in 3 women in the world are beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls.

This year OBR is bigger and truly a game-changer. Delhi has been buzzing with OBR activities like screenings of films, street theatre, music, discussions, debates, peace walks, bike rally and Gender Mela since January 2016.

For the fourth year of the campaign, thousands of women, men, and youth from different sections of society in particular young people from schools and colleges will gather at Central Park, New Delhi to raise consciousness and express the ‘rise’ of the billion movers and shakers  through dance, theatre and music and leverage the power of global solidarity and collective action.

“We are against violence against women and girls and against patriarchy. Women are rising as survivors. We are celebrating LOVE and harmony. OBR is a synergy; it is a SANGAM of genders, nations, organizations. We are rising also to protect Mother Nature, and all marginalized groups.” Kamla Bhasin, feminist activist and OBR South Asia coordinator.

This is a day of listening to women from the marginalised sectors, listening to their issues, to their needs, making their stories hears and visible, to create deeper consciousness about their struggles.

“OBR to me is about searching the feminist in myself. Every year on this day I find a new reason to spread love and understand my own struggles. OBR is solidarity to me.” Pousali Sarkar, student-Miranda House, DU

 “One Billion Rising is a space where there is multiple hues of protests and also multiple hues of solidarity, it includes youth beyond universities”- Bijayalakshmi Nanda, Professor-Miranda House-DU

I believe in an inclusive society therefore people should come at one platform where they can showcase their experiences and stand in solidarity. This is OBR to me” Ahmed Faraz, MenEngage Delhi.

“This is a special day where violence against women can be brought up and we all can shout-NO MORE. This is not about any particular age of women it includes all”-Ginny Srivastava, Activist from Rajasthan

In the past few months there had been some incredible risings in different parts of the city by dedicated organizations, institutions and individuals.

Institutions and Colleges have also been actively taking up the One Billion rising Mantle! In the first ten days of February itself there have been many colleges actively participating and hosting events to talk about Violence against Women. IP college for Women held a workshop on Violence against women, and sexual harassment as part of the OBR campaign on the 2nd of February.

Kalindi College also held a Gender Mela on the 5th of February complete with a flash mob, nukkad natak, movie screening of the film- Immoral Daughters and a speech by Kamla di. Miranda House on the 8th of February gave a call for rising with a rally and a flash mob. Maharshi Dayanand University in Rohtak is having a whole day of events regarding Violence against women with a street theatre etc on the 11th of February.

Shyam lal College also rose for One Billion Rising by hosting a day of advocacy against Violence against women on the 3rd of February. Miranda house along with Action Aid, CFAR and Centre for Health and Social Justice are holding a three day Gender Mela as part of the OBR campaign from the 11th to 13th of February.

Press Release-Press Release Call to Decriminalize Sex Work and Promote Rights of Transgenders: Final Day of Gender Mela

Press Release

Call to Decriminalize Sex Work and Promote Rights of Transgenders: Final Day of Gender Mela

New Delhi, Feb 13, 2016: The All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW) called for decriminalizing of sex work and recognition of labour rights for sex workers at the Gender Mela.

Seema, who is part of a union of sex worker’s in Sonagacchhi area of West Bengal, and Kusum a AINSW leader, spoke on unionising the sex workers so that they can withstand exploitation by the police and officials and advocate for removal of discriminatory policies and laws. “The sex workers’ union is part of the country’s labour rights  movement, and we ask that our work be decriminalized and we be given the same rights as any other worker,” exhorted Seema.

The AINSW demand was supported by the transgender groups present. They insisted that rights of transgenders must be acknowledged too including remedial steps for the extreme violence they faced.

Maya, who said she considers herself not a transgender but a Hijra as she accepts and follows all the practices of the community, said Hijras are often forced to behave in a certain way because of the discrimination and ridicule they face from society which does not allow them to get educated, shuns them when they use public transport like the Delhi metro, face extreme violence  and sexual assault and shuts the doors of ‘respectable’ employment for them. “The NALSA judgement is incomplete as it only gave recognition to the third gender but did not make any effort to give them services and facilities to improve their lives and mainstream  them even almost two years down the line. So, little has changed on the ground for us,” said Maya, pointing out there were Nari Niketans set up by the government for women who are victims of violence but there was no acknowledgement of the sexual and other forms of violence faced by transgenders too who have nowhere to go when they are in need.

Men and women students participated in equal measure in questioning experts and activists on the final day on Saturday of the three day Gender Mela organized by Miranda House on its campus in collaboration with OBR and MenEngage Delhi.

“Climate change impacts women, particularly poor, marginalized women the most, affecting their livelihoods, nutrition, health, and even the amount of violence they have to face. Yet, policies and laws dealing with climate change in various sectors are made by a male dominated bureaucracy and law makers who don’t see the need to integrate the situation of women into agricultural or environmental policies,” said Aditi Kapoor of Alternative Futures who spoke on the gendered impact of climate change like untimely rainfall, extreme temperatures, deforestation, drought or floods, drop in agricultural production and loss of species, leading to migration and loss of livelihoods, among other things. She was speaking at a session on Sustainable Development, Gender and Climate Change.

Experts like Prof Sanghamitra Acharya from JNU, Sehjo Singh of Action Aid and Tripti Tandon from Lawyers Collective brought out the need for a deeperunderstanding of the intersection of Dalit issues with gender and environment as well as a change in laws projecting women particularly sex workers as ‘victims’ and thereby depriving them of rights that other workers enjoyed.

A diversity of sexual identities and opinions capped the colorful three-day Gender Mela that provided a space for male and female students to grapple with issues of social norms and gender in a conducive environment.

Press Release-Convergence of Youth Led Movements Gives Impetus to Gender Mela

Convergence of Youth Led Movements Gives Impetus to Gender Mela

New Delhi, 12 Feb 2016: A plethora of youth led movements took centrestage on the second day of the Gender Mela giving it a fiery impetus. Discussions focused on what was unique about these movements like Happy to Bleed, North East Network, Joint Action Committee and the Rohith Vemula campaign and how they were not afraid to challenge authority. “We are important voices of dissent that must be recognized as for the first time in the campus students have come together cutting across colleges and movements in solidarity with the issues we represent,” said Shambhavi Vikram, a young activist from Happy to Bleed. Kawalpreet from JAC said, “Yet, our posters and other material are torn down and we are not allowed to express ourselves.” North East Network’s Tara Amrapali said, “These movements are also struggling to be accepted by the older movements and gain the credibility that they deserve.”

The day saw a convergence of multiple movements and groups. A film screening was held by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) followed by a discussion on the intersectionalities of caste and gender.

A vibrant mix of male and female students converged at the mela to participate in the discussions, join in film screenings and interactive games and quizzes that led to deeper understanding on issues of gender. A Nukkad Natak competition saw several colleges vying for the top slot and two flash mobs

The event is being held in collaboration with Miranda House, MenEngage Delhi and OBR as well as several other NGO partners like CFAR, Cequin and Women’s Feature Service.

PRESS RELEASE-Over 2000 young people throng the Gender Mela in Miranda House

PRESS RELEASE

Over 2000 young people throng the Gender Mela in Miranda House

New Delhi, 11 Feb 2016: The three days Gender Mela, organized by Miranda House, MenEngage Delhi and the One Billion Rising Campaign, with  support from women and community  groups, got off to a festive note with a cross section of young people expressing themselves in different ways.

A large turnout of students thronged the colorful stalls put up by organizations that are leading the gender equality campaign in Delhi. Messages and resource material on gender, particularly the importance of involving men and boys in gender issues, took centre stage amidst a carnival atmosphere. What particularly struck a chord among the youngsters were innovative T shirts by MenEngage Delhi saying, ‘This is Raju, Raju thinks mard to dard nahin hota, Raju is wrong, mard ko dard bhi hota hai, rona bhi aata hai and darr bhi lagta hai. Don’t be like Raju’

In yet another stall, young people from Saboli Khada, Kalyanpuri and Nangal Raya showcased an selection of media articles on violence against women which they had collated as part of their learning initiative. More importantly, the media articles helped to stimulate a purposeful dialogue among a cross section of young people. Speaking about this initiative, Sanjeevani a student from Nangal Raya said “It prompted us to brainstorm on what each one of us should do to stop violence against women.”

An inter-collegiate debate with participation from Jamia Millia Islamia, Motilal Nehru College, JNU, Jesus and Mary College, PG DAV and Lady Hardinge Medical College took students by storm.

Harshita Pandey, spokesperson of the Women’s Development Cell, Miranda House and organizer of the Gender Mela put it very aptly when she said:  “We do not see it as a make believe event but as an expression of young women aspiring to live life on our terms and break age old gender stereotypes that small town girls like me have been subjected to and conditioned by while growing up.”

Inaugurating the Gender Mela, Dr. Pratibha Jolly, Principal, Miranda House, stated that the day had started off on a high note for her when she came across 12 year old Suraj from Kalyanpuri, who is part of a street theatre group that is contributing to changing attitudes on gender in the community.

Elaborating on this she added that: “Suraj is a symbol in more ways than one because he is telling us is that what finally counts is working on the ground because that is where we will confront the fault lines and also the insights that are necessary to find solution within our own framework. This is also the reason why a space like a College makes a huge difference”.

Kamla Bhasin, the intrepid social activist and the face of the One Billion Rising (OBR) Campaign across South Asia made it clear that, “Bending gender is the need of the hour’ for both girls and boys because men are the biggest beneficiaries of patriarchy as is evident in every institution and in the higher echelons of power. But there are also huge numbers of men who are losing out as much as women given the stereotypical definition of masculinity and the ridicule that men who do not fit into it are subjected to.”

Abhijit Das, Director, CHSJ, said “Women have to help men in acknowledging gender inequality by holding up a mirror in which men can look into and reflect on their masculine privileges.” He added that men must start take on the role of being partners in change while pointing out the fact that among the 17 SDGs, the ones on equality, justice and gender need to be acted upon to ensure a firm base for gender equality.

Other speakers were Ms. Rukmini Rao, noted gender specialist, Ms. Rakhee Bakshi, senior journalist and Ms. Smita Khanijow.

The evening was rounded off with a performance by the Sufi Rock band Goonj

PRESS RELEASE-Gender Mela with a Difference

PRESS RELEASE

 Gender Mela with a Difference

 

Gender ki Kayapalat (turning it upside down)

 

Mela with a difference as young people will be unraveling the issue of gender through discussions and cultural performances

 

New Delhi, 10 Feb 2016: The three days Gender Mela or fest by MenEngage Delhi scheduled to be held at Miranda House, University of Delhi from 11 February, 2016, will prove to be a game changer at many levels with boys and men standing shoulder to shoulder with girls and women to question and bust the many myths and stereotypes that presently prevail on gender.

 

For starters, it is being held at Miranda House, University of Delhi, a premier women’s college that has set many benchmarks over the last 68 years and constantly reinvented itself to keep pace with contemporary developments. Having enabled its students to engage with the many complex concerns on gender, girls’ safety and related concerns, it is now walking the talk by hosting a Mela where young people will be unraveling the many concepts and ideas around gender through discussions, debates, nukkad natak, concerts etc.

 

Apart from exploring the possibility of strengthening the process of peer learning, the young people are also developing games on breaking gender stereotypes and evening music programmes reinforcing the theme of equality by groups like Goonj, DhruvViswanath and Loknaad will also add to the myriad of activities. Speaking about the event, Akash, a youth volunteer associated with CFAR-Wajood initiative on stopping domestic violence, went on to emphasize that is the mela is, “one way of connecting with youth in different parts of the city so that we stop being by-standers and do our bit to better to improve gender equality.”

 

Speaking on behalf of Women’s Development Cell, Miranda House, Ms. Bijayalaxmi Nanda, said that they “welcome this initiative at it will provide young people with much-needed space to bond with their peers, set new learning goals, explore multiple issues, clarify their values and last but not the least do all of this with the necessary support and guidance from faculty and experts.”

 

The genesis of this initiative goes back to November 2014, when a series of campaigns were witnessed by the city in the run-up to the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium – Men and Boys for Gender Justice – that was organized by MenEngage Global; an alliance of 600 member groups from around the world that are working on issues of gender with men and boys along with UN organizations and the Delhi-based NGO, Centre for Health and Social Justice.

 

The high profile symposium had heads of international organizations and governments converging on Delhi along with 1200 participants from as many as 95 countries. Explaining the purpose of this initiative, Satish Kumar Singh, Additional Director, CHSJ, stated that “The Delhi Declaration and Call to Action issued by the global symposium had laid out directions for the greater involvement of men and boys. In keeping with its spirit, advocacy has been deepened and intensified to move beyond awareness raising to providing opportunities for action for change through the creation of a network, MenEngage Delhi (MED). This alliance has brought together universities and other groups to come up with a space such as the Gender Mela.”

 

He went on to add that MenEngage Delhi’s ‘masculinities clubs’ are forming across colleges and universities in Delhi, with 10 colleges and universities and numerous civil society organizations being part of the Action Network, which was endeavoring to reach out to various youth led rights campaigns, that had recently emerged like; OBR, ‘Happy to Bleed’, the ‘Rohith Vemula Campaign’ and ‘the North-eastern Rights Campaign’.

Talking about the One Billion Rising (OBR) Campaign which began in 2012 at the same time as the Nirbhaya incident, Kamla Bhasin stated that this is the Fourth Year that One Billion Rising is campaigning against patriarchy and violence against women and girls in over 200 countries of the world with the catch phrase NO to Love of Power and a big YES to the Power of Love.

Speaking about OBR, she went on to add that, “OBR is an alliance of people who abhor violence, injustice and inequality and share a vision of a world where there is no gender war and a guarantee of equality for all.”

Taking this forward, Rituparna Borah from Nazariya said “Nazariya looks at gender beyond the binaries of male and female so it’s important to be part of campaigns like MenEngage Delhi and others where opportunities like the Gender Mela are created that are an important site for talking about gender and masculinities with a queer lens. Gender mostly means ‘women’ to many people and that leaves out many other people in a large way, be it men or trans people.”

Agreeing with this, Manak Matyani, Y. P. Foundation stated that: “It is crucial to create spaces for young people to share, reflect and lead personal and social transformation. The gender mela is one such space to inspire thoughtful, feminist youth leadership that rejects oppressive patriarchal norms and violence. A college is the best space for this to be housed, not just as an event, but as a long term and continuous process of learning and leadership led by young people to create a discrimination free world.”

“CEQUIN believes that it is vital to engage men and boys in the journey towards gender equality. We have been doing that through our various initiatives like ‘WOWMEN Awards’, ‘Agents of Change work shops’ and our student led campaign ‘Kickstart Equality’. The MenEngage platform has provided an excellent opportunity for organizations like ours to come together and carry this forward collectively.” Lora Prabhu from CEQUIN

PRESS RELEASE, November 4, 2015

New Delhi, 4 November 2015: Centre for Health and Social Justice, Department of Political Science (JMI), One Billion Rising Campaign and MenEngage Delhi organised a programme “Notes of Harmony – towards Gender Justice”, at Ansari Auditorium, Jamia University today.

One Billion Rising Campaign since the beginning has been using cultural expressions to create a wider platform. MenEngage Delhi has collaborated with the campaign to create a cultural resonance on the issue of gender justice.

The program started with panel discussion on ‘Portrayal of Gender and Masculinities in Media’. Media portrays gender roles in stereotyped ways; mass media in general constitute potentially powerful sources of information pertaining to gender appropriateness of a wide variety of practices and behaviours. In the light of this, media is constantly enforcing and re-enforcing stereotypes and creating ideal types of different roles, which viewers often blindly ascribe to. Through the panel discussion activists and senior journalists explored ways in which media operates, affects us and influences our behaviour and gendered practices.

On the occasion Kamla Bhasin, feminist-activist and South-Asia coordinator for One Billion Rising Campaign released a book Dimensions of Change brought out by CHSJ. This book  have articles written by senior journalists Rashme Sehgal, Annu Anand, Annapurna Jha and Anita Katyal – that bring out how complex is the process of gender socialization and its manifestations. The books also highlight many of the current issues of gender justice that need to be addressed.

Students from Jamia Millia Islamia, Lady Sri Ram College for Women, Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar College and Indraprastha College for Women participated in an Inter College Debate on ‘The media is responsible for increase in Sexism and Violence against Women”.

The program came to an end with musical performance by renowned sitar maestro Shri Partha Bose’s Performance. His performance highlighted different moods, images and journey of a woman demanding equality and gender justice.

“My perception of the world – especially India – in the context of gender realities motivated me to look at another objective of music- bringing people together and raising consciousness for women’s rights and building avenues for protests against discrimination and for collective action towards gender justice.”- Partha Bose, sitar maestro.

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