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“The role of women in saving the Constitution and democracy of India”

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This year the theme for the day was: “the role of women in saving the Constitution and democracy of India”. Down the years the role and contribution of women have gone unrecognized; in a patriarchal society men have used their power, politics to subjugate women. A clarion call has been given on the 21, February 2024 from Belgaum in Karnataka where 3500 women and activists gathered to recall the contribution of Rani Cheenamma in opposing the Imperialistic rule of the British. To recall this great event we honor the struggles of Rani Cheenamma and many other women leaders who were convinced of their role to save our Motherland. They fought violently, though they never won because it’s difficult to oppose the mindset of men

This year we at Aashray Abhiyan gathered together as women irrespective of caste, class, creed, inclusive to reflect and honor the contribution of women down the years. We had women from all faith groups, representatives of different political parties cutting across all differences; we solemnly took an oath to save the democratic values enshrined in our constitution.

The chief Guest on the occasion was Dr. Felicitas Roelofsen from Germany ( a cancer surgeon), special guest Mukund Singh RJD, spokesperson, Uma Dafftarur from AAP party. We also had Isabal from Allahabad, Sandra from Deoria, Ancy from Nawada as special guest who have spent their lives working at grassroots among women in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, empowering women, awakening them to their rights.

The Kittur declaration was released when all the esteemed guests on the dais released the declaration of Kittur . Mukund Singh invited all to stand up and stretch their right hand forward and to take an oath to safeguard our Indian constitution, our democracy. She also invited all to reflect on what is binding us as citizens of this great country. The Indian Constitution has kept us bounded as Indians, we need to uphold this value and relate to each other as human beings.

Speaking on the occasion, Dorothy Fernandes – Directress of Aashray Abhiyan, said: We will put every effort to resolve all differences and to spread love, harmony and fraternity as enshrined in our constitution. We will celebrate our sisterhood, which knows no language, no caste, no class, we stand together with humanity, who are struggling to make both ends meet. As women inflation hits us the most, when we constantly forced to make choices as to how to keep the family together, to feed, cloth, educate and ensure that no one feels left out. In addition to this we also see our role as contributing to the economy of the family as we realize in these difficult times we have to support the family. We have learnt the art of balancing home and work; so when we speak of governance we know what we area speaking about.

Mukund Singh of RJD, headquarters in charge vehemently spoke about the challenges she faces in politics being a young woman coming from the minority community. She has come out successful and stands as a model for women who inspire, who is moving ahead with strength and determination training young minds to develop their talents, making space for themselves in the world. She invited the young women and girls to encourage each other; she cited the example of being 6 girls in the family and the support and encouragement she received from her mother. Today all of them girls have been well placed in society and the credit goes to her mother. She encouraged every mother to be the one to hold her daughters hand and that’s the first step to empowerment.

Sr.Isabel fdcc from Allahabad had served many years in the prisons of Motihari, visiting the prisoners, working for their release, ensuring them to get skilled, rehabilitating them to begin life anew again. She has made the truth come forth that another world is possible. She shared of how she struggled to bring about a change in the prisons in Motihari and eventually was successful. It gives her great joy, when she was able to rehabilitate them and help them stand on their feet.

Sr.Sandra SRA, has worked for years in purvanchal, down in the villages forming women , encouraging to move out of the clutches of the money lenders, helping them to become economically empowered. Playing their role in the governance of self help groups as a way forward.. Her untiring efforts even today keeps her going with a great gusto as she always moves with a smile on her face.

Sr. Ancy FCC , worked for years in Jharkhand, with the tribals, awakening them to dream new dreams, listening with empathy to their painful stories of torture suffering at the hands on non tribals. She has empowered hundreds of women during her services for more than 3 decades in Hazaribagh. Now she continues the same in Nawada, Bihar.

Aiman Fatima a young psychologist spoke about her engagement with the young women on the periphery as she mingles with them, encouraging them to live their dreams with determination. Bringing young girls to move out of the realm of marriage and to offer possibilities of living life on their terms is the contribution of a new Bihar, a new India, where the potentials of the young are tapped, channelized and accompanying them to reach new heights.

We as women have decided to take this struggle forward, have decided not to give up and do all in our power to translate women power into votes. Others who addressed the Gathering were Chanda Kumari from Mahendru sharing her story of working among young girls and women. How she was strong in not getting married and succumbing to pressure from her parents. She got married a year ago after she convinced of her contribution. Simran from Chitokhra shared how after her marriage she has been struggling due to an irresponsible husband who has practically left her. Other young girls from the settlements emphasized the role of their mothers in supporting them and enabling them to dream dreams and to realize them. A young girl Sneha from TV tower, picked courage to talk about the support of her father whom she lost a few months ago and even today she continues to fulfill her father’s dream and lives in the belief that he is still there to support them; she is determined to pursue her studies and find her place in society by being economically empowered.

So, also Muskan from TV Tower, Swati and Tanu from Digha centers, Monika and Asha from Sahgaadi Masjid settlements participated in the program from the sewing centers, women from the settlements who also placed their views about a new Bihar; their desire to move ahead and make a difference in the lives of their children. Many of the young girls listened attentively and were inspired and encouraged to keep the struggle going,

In conclusion, the entire hall resounded with the song :”We shall overcome”, as we all raised our hands. The slogans resounded: ”Phool nahi chingari hain, Shakti ka nam nari hain” “Pjool nahi chingari hain , hum Bharat ke nari hain”.

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