March 27, 2019 National News

Hundreds of domestic workers, construction workers, trade union members, advocates, civil society organisations, working women and youth participated in #March4Women, a silent march to demand safer and more gender-equal working conditions. This march was part of a larger campaign organised by CARE India and PAHAL, two non-profit organisations working to bring an end to gender-based violence. The march was flagged off by prominent personalities like Avijit Dutt, filmmaker, theatre director and writer, Hrishitaa Bhatt, film actor and social activist, Suneeta Dhar, Advisor at Jagori. The march culminated with the signing of a Charter of Demands. The signed Charter of Demands will be presented to the government and advocacy measures for formalising the demands will be made.

During her address Madhu Deshmukh, CEO, CARE India said, “Women and girl empowerment is the mission of CARE India and Investing in their progress is the key to achieve real societal development. Harassment, exploitation and violence against women in public areas and workplaces are highly prevalent in our society, and patriarchy and crimes against the girls and women go hand in hand. It is important for us to sensitize women, as well as men, at all community levels to ensure safety and dignity of women in the workplace as well as at home”

#March4Women 2019 was launched on March 8, to commemorate International Women’s Day. This year’s campaign focusses on spreading awareness about the International Labour Organisation’s Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. The week-long pre-event awareness activities included discussions and dialogues, street plays and other engagement activities on gender-based violence in the word of work were conducted across Delhi for women in prisons, domestic workers, construction workers and trade unions.

While sharing gender based prejudices in the film industry, Avijit Dutt, Filmmaker, Actor and Writer shared “34 per cent of India men think it is okay to hit a woman. The challenge lies in the mind-set of our male dominant society. The film industry has instances of its own kind of sophisticated gender based harassment. In this industry, women have tolerated a lot and finally they are breaking the glass ceiling and speaking out loud.”

The main event, organised at Janakpuri’s Dilli Haat, today, included talks, panel discussions, theatre and cultural performances, calling for stronger policies and action on preventing harassment in the world of work and violence against women. The event was attended by theatre personalities, actors, advocates, NGO representatives and women and men from the organised and unorganised sector who are directly affected by gender-based violence and harassment at home and/or place of work. After the inaugural and welcome addresses, select representatives who work in the unorganised sector were invited to narrate their experiences. The panel discussion focussed on issues of violence and harassment in the world of work, despite India having enacted the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) law in 2013.

Following a powerful performance by Asmita, a local Delhi-based theatre group, Hrishitaa Bhatt, CARE India’s Brand Influencer took the stage and shared her experiences regarding facing harassment in the world of work.

Hrishitaa Bhatt, an actor and social activist said, “Women are the most powerful beings as they have the ability to pro-create. This supremacy in fact, has always invited restrictions and challenges from the male dominant society. As a woman, I believe I have a lot to do for the betterment of the women community and make it a better place for them to live a dignified life. Believe yourself because everyone is equal for nature. Educate your children and empower them to excel in their lives.”

The audience cheered Hrishitaa for sharing her personal experiences with them. Her encouragement to the audience to join the silent march was infectious and when she herself also joined the march, the participants took to the streets in full gusto.

Youth Ki Awaaz published an article about #March4Women on March 25

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