International Feminists Solidarity Event: OBR 2019 Launch


International Feminists Solidarity Event: OBR 2019 Launch

With the ongoing Sangat Month Long Course on Gender, Sustainable Livelihoods, Human Rights and Peace at Tewa, 35 organizations of Civil Society of Nepal in collaboration with Sangat- A Feminist Network organized an International Feminists Solidarity Event: One Billion Rising Launch 2019 on 18th September, 2018.  The event was celebrated in presence of more than 700 participants from 35 civil society network organizations and 8 different nationals in DAV School, Dhobighat, Lalitpur.

This event has been celebrated since past 4 years to honor women activists and groups committed to and working for gender equality, justice, and peace in Nepal and South Asia. In presence of Kamla Bhasin, feminists from across South Asia the event became more exuberant.

The celebration started with the very strong poem by Kriti Adhiakari from Word Warriors on women’ strength after Mona Sherpa welcomed everyone on behalf of CSOs and Sangat. Her poetry rendered how society has always portrayed women to be fragile, softer on the other side, polite and tolerant to ongoing injustice and violence against them. But defying the patriarchy and those norms, women can, and be whatever she wants to become. The performance was then followed by announcement of the Recipient of 3rd Sangatee Grant Award. The Award was initiated by Nepali Feminists and CSOs to honor Indian feminist Activists Abha Bhaiya and Kamla Bhasin to award one individual and one organizations. For the announcement of the recipient, Sangat Jury Committee Member Kalyanee Shah was invited to present her few words about the recipients. The recipients of this year’s Sangatee Grant Award are Manju Gurung, an individual and Nepal Mahila Adhikar Manch, Dhanusha, an organization. The awardees were presented with NRs 50,000/- and NRs 100,000/- respectively. Rita Thapa, Founder of Tewa was called upon the stage to handover the price to the awardees.

Manju Gurung started working in social development community based activities in Pokhara since 1997. She is currently working at Pourakhi and has been involved in the organization for 15 years since its establishment and was one of the founder. She herself is a returnee migrant and knew about the challenges women in foreign countries face which encouraged her to work for the promotion of safer migration and rehabilitation of these people. 

On the other hand, Nepal Mahila Manch was established in 2066 B.S. Based in Dhanusha, the organization aims to provide women with their fundamental rights without any barriers. The organization has been playing playing magnificent role in changing women status in Dhanusha district. Their main focus has been in issues related to social problem, family problem. The organization provides counseling that consults with such issues with the violence survivors. 

Then, Nastasia Paul Gera, a coordinator of Sangat introduced everyone to 23rd MLC 36 participants from 8 different countries including Sierra Leone. Speech by Usha, a participant from Nepal and Jenneh from Sierra Leone presented beautiful words on their experience in this course. The dance performance by participants was bestowed followed by whistling and laughing women. 

Afterward, Shabnam Virmani, a documentary film maker and artist in residence at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Banglore performed songs of Kabir and Sufi poets. Her melodious performance left all the participants in awe and was indeed the most mesmerizing ones. She sang 5 songs that reflected space of South Asia’s heritage, and invokes Kabir and other bhakti Sufi and Baul poets. Her performance portrayed ideas of cultural identity, secularism, nationalism, religion, death, impermanence, and folk.

Another award initiated by Kamla Bhasin in memory of her daughter Meeto was presented to “Sumeera Shrestha”, currently working as an Executive Director at Women for Human Rights. The Meeto Memorial Award recognizes the outstanding commitment and activism of young feminist’s activists across South Asia. Sumeera has been working on political, social, cultural and economic rights of single women over a decade focusing on the rights of single women. Dr. Ambreen Ahmed, a core member of Sangat and Bandana Rana presented the award. Sumeera said, “Our life should be for purpose, for a cause. And I believe that our efforts together as feminists, wherever we are, will bring an ocean of change.”

Soon after, Kamla Bhasin with her slogan: “Women united will Never be defeated” took upon the whole crowd. Her primo words on feminism and what feminists today wants to achieve, left everyone present in the room to think for the moment. Not only does patriarchy tribulates women but it is also leaving men alienated. Kamla says, “With this ongoing battle against patriarchy for years, I invite men to join along the journey with us and end patriarchy for the creation of better world for future generations. Only when men and women come together, we end this system that has been deep-rooted since ages.” Kamla then launched One Billion Rising 2019 with the theme to acknowledge and value Unpaid Care Work which was soon followed by the launch of Dhammak Dham book written by Kamla Bhasin herself and published by Shtri Shakti. 

The celebration ended with the powerful dance performance by CWIN and Nepal Mahila Ekata Samaj. 

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