Together, we are an ocean. “Individually, we are a drop.”- Ryunosuke Satoro
An old farmer, while settling a dispute among his children, picked up a stick from the ground and said, “One stick can be broken, but a group of sticks cannot be broken.” It is the same with us, women. There is nothing stronger than a woman shouldering other women. Togetherness is the glue that can strengthen, encourage, and heal women from all walks of life.
The National Girl Me Too day is different from the #metoo movement. In the US, Symonia Montgomery, the creator of the National Girl Me Too movement, and many others celebrate the National Girl Me Too day with a vision to heal the past, empower the future and encourage relationships among women. The phrase, “Girl, me too,” is used when women mutually relate to each other’s experiences and challenges.
If you told me as a young girl you struggled to accept your body, or you felt unheard among a group of men, or as a grown woman you are uncomfortable to travel at night, I would say, “Girl, me too,” to all of the above.
In India, we can celebrate the national “Girl me too” movement by recognizing the struggles of our sisters from rural India. I heard someone say, “rural India and urban India are almost like two different countries.” I couldn’t agree more. The struggles overcome by an urban woman are the present struggles of a rural woman. For example, access to higher education or toilets inside the home. This year, let us try to learn about their struggles, come up with positive solutions, and encourage discussions about issues faced by rural women. Secondly, we must uplift and not step on someone’s shoulders. The concept of pulling another down to win a race for success benefits only for a short term. Along the way, someone with the same mentality will pull you down, thus the cycle continues.
Gone are the days where mother-in-law and daughter-in-law banters were laughed at, the mistress controlled the maid, and female friendships meant sudden backstabs. We can change the narratives our screens portray by encouraging and cherishing relationships with our mothers, mother-in-laws, sisters, friends, female co-workers, and maids. One might ask, how would building female-centred relationships help me?
According to Forbes, “Study after study shows women who support women are more successful in business.” Build a sorority, a support system of women who can understand you, empathise with you, and give good advice. One common misconception that everyone feels is that “my struggle is my own, and nobody can understand it.” It just takes one look around to see several women who have felt, faced, and experienced the same. Women unknowingly create a safe space to express themselves freely to other women. For ages, washroom chit chats, book clubs, and tea parties created a safe space for women to freely express their challenges, opportunities, and struggles.
Rukmini Rao, was one of those women who supported other women during the emergency period in 1981 with “Saheli,” she helped women facing domestic violence with social, legal, and economic support.
The “Padwoman of India,”Maya Vishwakarma, born in rural India, talks about her own struggle to access sanitary pad later facing several complications due to the lack of awareness. Her struggle inspired her to go on a mission to change the stigma around menstruation. A unique bank, created by Chetna Sinha, loans money to rural women in a small town in Maharashtra. Chetna has provided financial aid to women by giving them flexible pay on a day-to-day basis and the freedom to pick loans that range from 15 to 5,000 rupees. Her vision is to raise female entrepreneurs from this small town and towns across India. Several women, like Rukmini, Chetna, and Maya, believed in the power of togetherness, a bond that can heal our past and empower our future.
How can we celebrate Girl Me Too Day in India?
Here are a few small but creative ways you can celebrate Girl Me Too Day in India.
The girls get-to-gather
Gather your friends, co-workers, sisters, and take some time to reflect on each other’s challenges and how each one overcame them over the last year. This is a great way to learn from other women and to positively reflect on the past.
The cheesy bowl
If you’re on a tight schedule, take 20 minutes to gather your girls and play the cheesy bowl of writing unnamed positive, uplifting notes. Scatter them in a bowl. Everyone gets to pick one note and feel encouraged for the day.
Positive affirmation gifts
Nobody hates gifts, especially when they are unexpected. You could create posters, or buy mugs, that celebrate the relationship between your girl group. A printed t-shirt works its magic every time.
There is a power in togetherness, friendships, and real life stories. To quote a proverb from the book of Ecclesiastes, “It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.” Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! ’ I say this in response to a song by Andra Day.
And we’ll rise up, we’ll rise up
We’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
We’ll rise up
And we’ll do it a thousand times again.
This blog was contributed by our intern Ruth Anugraha, a II MA Communication student from Chennai. Inspired by our work in fighting colourism, and creating awareness on child abuse, online literacy and mental health, Ruth has chosen to work with us and add value wherever she can.
I stumbled upon art in my quest for a more meaningful life. I wanted to give an outlet to my creative energy which would have been stifled had I joined the business for which I was trained. As a product of the prestigious NIFT, I saw numerous opportunities to join the industry and pursue a career in design.
Somehow I was not very convinced about this idea, during my college years I never saw myself in a fixed hour job. I would rather be a free spirit and choose to create when I wanted to. My path to becoming a full-time artist has been indirect to say the least. However, I wouldn’t trade my time of being an “artist interrupted” for anything.
The longer road with all of it’s detours has really paid off in terms of rounding out my life experiences, making me more focused, determined, and extremely grateful for the opportunity I have in the studio right now. Waiting is a great motivator.
I’ve always had a love for creativity, right from a very young age and although I might not have fully understood it on a conscious level, bringing something new and unique (and hopefully of value) into the world always brought me a great deal of satisfaction.
After my studies at NIFT, New Delhi, and a short stint of work, I got married. Thereafter, it was motherhood which was my first priority. Soon I realised that I needed to do something on my own for my creative persona.
I started visiting various art galleries in Delhi and participating in their painting workshops. This is where the seed of being an abstract artist was launched & permanently lodged into my soul. Honestly, I didn’t know what to think of it myself until I started working on my first canvas. It was like a bullet hit me. I FELT something connect – the freedom that comes with working for yourself.
So there you have it – my story.
I always prefer happy and hopeful endings when I hear a story, so I’ll leave you with this:
Following your heart, inner vision, and passion can lead you to do the very thing you love & cherish, even if it takes a L-O-N-G time.
Since the journey is long, it is important to have courage and belief in your work. Don’t get dejected by criticism. Some times, the response may come very slowly, but if you have faith in what you are doing, you will get there.
It’s not always smooth sailing, so you have to take the ups and downs of your journey as they come. Keep the faith strong and keep surging ahead.
The author of this article has chosen to remain anonymous.
“Even confessing feels good under the right circumstances.”
It was during the time of mid-September when the winter has just started and with Chennai suddenly becoming whimsical with it’s dreamy sunsets and the dew drops in the trees, everybody feels fortunate and happy.
As a 13 year old girl who came home from school happily to go out with her mother, I was disappointed with the rain. I waited anxiously for the rain to stop and once it did I rushed and told my mother to get ready.
The markets were the same, the people were the same but the stories I told my mother became even more interesting each week. The stories were from algebra to catfights to almost everything that filled my mind. Now returning from the noisy market, entering into a quaint street I understood my voice became louder and turned down my voice a little. And going down the street i heard a speeding vehicle nearing us and at the spur of the minute the man in the vehicle gropes my chest and the girl who toned her voice down a minute ago now screams at the top of her voice. I felt assaulted and was assaulted by a person who was my father’s age. My mother searched for words to console me. But I knew my mother needed a lot of consoling than me. We couldn’t do anything more than scream or console. I felt weak. I remembered my parents teaching me different types of touch, and I knew this was a bad touch but my mother was just next to me, does this mean both of us are weak?
No, the only person weak was the one who sped away in the vehicle. The only person ashamed was the one who couldn’t face us and sped away. But before I realized this I felt uneasy to talk about this to people. So, It took literally six long years for me to talk about a groping incident, How long or how resistant will a child take or be? Will it be before he/she realizes it’s not their mistake or after they punish themselves for something they are not responsible for?
Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones. I, luckily knew my rights and with the support of my parents knew how to deal with it. But does everyone have privilege for that? We have the responsibility to ensure a safe place for everybody to live in.