International Working Women's Day: An evening in Jamia
From late night mushairas to politics, women have been conveniently alienated from campus spaces, and for too long. If it's not curfews, we have cages of our own that prevent us from accessing these spaces—cages that our male counterparts aren't privy to. This difference of experiences has had a historical bearing that continues to affect us today. Our journey from our homes to our hostel rooms have been long, arduous and fulfilling. Along with this, they have been marred by obstacles that bind us together, the anger, and the fight unites us all. Whether it's the slights from the community about 'awaara' women or whether it is the moral policing of the hostel. The policing, surveillance and curtailing of our rights by a patriarchal society continues from our homes to our streets to our hostel rooms. The diktat laid out by a patriarchal society about 'respectable woman' is thrusted upon us, and instead of becoming a space where we can explore our individuality, the university becomes a space which again institutionalises these oppressive systems.
This March 8, we gather in remembrance and awe of the millions of women across history, across time, whose struggles have brought us to where we stand today. A militant history of struggle has been co-opted and institutionalized into a day of ritualistic commemoration, of market gimmicks and 'spa' discounts, of institutionalized 'celebrations' and 'seminars'. On the one hand we have the BJP government masquerading itself as the vanguard of women’s ‘empowerment’ under the veil of ‘beti bachao bati padhao’ and posturing itself as the savior of the ‘oppressed Muslim women’ through the Muslim women (Protection of rights on marriage) bill, the Triple Talaq judgment etc. On the other hand, there has been a concerted attempt at the state and judicial level to clamp down on the hard fought laws and rights for the emancipation of women.
The ongoing neo liberal project of privatization of higher education through the replacement of government funds with loan providing bodies like HEFA, scholarship and fellowship cuts, massive fee hikes etc have compounded the levels of hurdles women and marginalized students face in accessing education. This massive restructuring of higher education adversely impacts women and students from marginalized sections who have entered these bastions of higher education after continuous long drawn struggles. Instead of facilitating an easier access to education for disadvantaged students who have to overcome the structural barriers posed by a neo liberal-caste-class-patriarchal structure, the state is hell bent on marking higher education off limits for the oppressed sections. This replicates the already existing exclusive model of the university where some are fenced out and the others are caged in.
In the midst of deterioration of our social fabric, as society is becoming more accommodating to hateful elements, let us come together and collectively share doubts, anger, hopes, and dreams and begin to formulate an imagining of a world wherein these casteist patriarchal barriers will hold us no more. Let us storm the streets with our desires and dreams. Let us take back this day with our collective power and rage, to embody the spirit of resistance and defiance that this day stands for!
Join us on International Working Women’s Day on March 8th, at Jamia Milia Islamia for a photo exhibition and cultural evening!
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