TNT SPECIAL | Celebrating Women's Day with Northeast Women
By Ladiangti Rani and Laxmi Chyrmang | SHILLONG:
International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated every year on March 8, is a day recognised by the United Nations as a "special day" for women to celebrate womanhood. But of course, that does not mean we celebrate "womanhood" only for a day.
But since it's a global celebration, let us talk about the significance of the day.
International Women's Day is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights and this year, greetings poured in for all women for their outstanding social, economic, cultural and political achievements and contributions.
This global theme for 2021 is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”
THE PAST AND THE PRESENT
The progress that women have made since the first International Women’s Day in 1908 inspires change around the world. It was established when 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City that year demanding shorter work hours, better pay, and the right to vote.
Today, the definition of a woman has drastically changed. Women are now the "greatest" pillar of development.
We see women everywhere, be it in politics, entrepreneurship or decision making; they all have a role to play, unlike in the past when men considered women "inferior".
With this in mind, TNT-The Northeast Today spoke to a few women from Northeast India who shared with us their thoughts on Women’s Day.
“As a woman, I don’t think we need a special day for the celebration. Every day is women’s day. And we as women should celebrate our femininity, strength, weakness, life and above all, love. Loving ourselves is the most important. It’s not selfish, but it’s self-love and self-care,” entrepreneur Liter Basar said.
“To the women everywhere, I would like to tell them to be who they are. Not to conform to any societal framework. To break the glass ceilings every hour, every day. The world wants women to be seen and perceived as what is comfortable to them.”
“I would say celebrate your uniqueness and celebrate the feminine goddess within. Be financially independent, no matter what the earnings are. Financial independence is what will set you free.”
“Apart from that, concentrate on education. To open your mind and to broaden your outlook. Learn how to say no. Discard anything that pulls you down. Stand up for yourself and the women around you. Last, be your wind beneath your wings. And touch the sky,” she said.
“Each day, a woman is breaking boundaries, reclaiming her freedom and striving to create a more inclusive world. For me, Women’s Day is the celebration of this spirit,” said renowned filmmaker Rima Das.
“I believe great things happen when women support each other. Let’s hustle and strive to make things even better, not just for us but for the next generations of women.”
Founder-Director of the Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network/CAFI, Binalakshmi Nepram, said, “Every year the world celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8. It is a day to remind ourselves how important it is for us to have a gender-just world where men, women, people of all gender are treated equally and with love and respect.”
“Currently, the world is in crisis because of entrenched patriarchy, racism, militarisation, capitalism and continued coloniality of power. There is more money for wars, conflicts than for food, healthcare, shelter, gender justice. Women’s Day is a day to remind ourselves of the struggles we need to do to dismantle the structures of violence, and we, as women, have the power within to make this happen,” she said.
“The legendary Nupi Lan movement of Manipur of 1904 and 1939 and the bravery of our Manipuri Meira Paibis are a testimony that we, the women be the change we wish to see in the world,” said Nepram, who is also the convenor of the Northeast India Women Initiative for Peace, and Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, Gender Justice and Peace.
“Every year, we observe International Women’s Day, and it’s a celebration of reminding ourselves that we have come a long way in making a difference in society,” said Hasina Kharbhih, founder of Impulse NGO Network, Impulse Social Enterprises.
“But to me, Women’s Day is every day because that’s the way I am. I think on March 8, women gather to give strength to one another for one solitary cause. Women’s issues are global and different countries recognise it, so We are in this together,” she said.
“Women, being an integral part of our life, should be honoured in such a way that makes them jovial. Women’s Day means a lot to me. It’s a day when all women feel proud of themselves, it makes them feel that they also have a significant role in everybody’s life. Who would have given birth to you if they weren’t there? It is surely a day to be celebrated. A big salute to all women,” said certified gym trainer Rebecca Saimawii from Mizoram.
“Women’s Day is celebrating the many positive changes that have happened to great equality. Be courageous, be bold, be positive and don’t wait for permission. If you have an idea or passion for something, go after it. Your determination will make you stand out from everyone else, well you don’t have to be extraordinary to do out of ordinary things, always be the first version of yourself instead of the second red version of someone else,” said Filmmaker Rebecca Changkija Sema.
“Women are the real architects of society. There is no limit to what we can do as women. I truly believe that when women support each other, incredible things happen.”
“Today is the day celebrating womanhood, love, respect, honouring and empowering women,” Pooja Sharma, Chairman of Sikkim Film Promotion Board said.
“There was this string, or the line attached where women were confined to four corners of the world, but it has changed over time; women are having the right to education, right to living their rights, right of age to study, right of age to get married; this is how we can see the differences wherein women are empowering themselves and throughout the entire world,” she said.
“Women have reached the stars not just the moon and the very essence of womanhood is liberating those orthodox beliefs, system, practices and stigmas to now making her own life, her own choices and, cutting down those barriers being on the driver seat and making their own set of rules for her own life. Women should now stand up for themselves and be vocal,” Sharma added.
Though today, from one side we see women have been contributing to the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. But the fight will continue because when faced with the other side, women are still facing a lot of problems in society, such as abuse, violence and discrimination.
A key contributor to a more equal COVID-19 world is increasing women’s access to leadership roles. Unfortunately, women still face significant cultural, socio-economic and political barriers to accessing leadership.