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.