Did you wake up to countless marketing campaigns and social media posts on women’s day this year?
We did too.
So we, along with Navyug Each One Teach One Foundation decided to go offline and celebrate Women’s day with women outside our office, women who haven’t got many opportunities for a career or profession, women who aren’t astronauts or mountain climbers. Just women who are everyday women. We drove to Gonder village of Haryana, India. It has a population of about 20000 people (believe it or not, that is a small village in our nation).
We had 6 hours to put together an event that will not only celebrate womanhood but will also leave the women who attend it with a tangible outcome. So we did. Numbers were called and homes were visited. Stories were heard and food was ordered. Then we finally made a successful event happen.
What did we do you ask?
It was a new day for women of the village. It was the first time they were asked to answer one simple question: “What did you do for yourself today?”
Some answered: “We cooked food and washed utensils.”
Some said: “We had tea”
No one could come up with a real answer. That is when they reflected on their lives and wanted to change things. We invited them up to the podium to share their stories.
One woman shared how she earns 1 USD/day after working for 10 hours on a sewing machine. But she has to do it because her husband is an alcoholic. She is the only bread-winner for the family.
An older woman shared how she lost her husband, both sons and both daughter-in- laws in one accident. Now she is left with two grandchildren and a tiny piece of land which yields nothing. So she works as a cleaning lady at a school.
These aren’t isolated incidents. There are many more women who had varied versions of the same story. Want and need of work, but having none.
There is a pool of talent and labour but no opportunities where they can work and not lose their eyesight or catch a chronic illness.
With a promise that we will bring them these much desired jobs we concluded that afternoon.
It was at the most productive women’s day I ever had. No corporate tokenism of women’s day in form of a party or dance session and no offensive discussions with men why women’s day is “reverse-sexism”. Our day was spent in dreaming of a better future for this village and later across India.