by Girl Arise | May 12, 2022 | Blog, Girl Arise
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.
by Girl Arise | Oct 21, 2021 | Blog, Girl Arise
In a world where we get so many messages from social media, TV, and radio on how we need to look, what we need to wear, and how we need to be, we need to remember that each of us is special and unique in each person’s own way.
You have so many special gifts that make you – YOU. I wrote “I’m Special” to remind and empower every woman around the globe that you are special just the way you are. You don’t need to change your looks and the size of your body just to “fit.” You were born into this world to create a better reality, to lead, to follow your dreams, and to make a change. That change can start only from you accepting yourself, accepting the things you think are not good enough in you, and embracing and strengthening the traits that make you unique.
In my B.A. in Psychology and Sociology, I’ve studied and researched the power of words. I highly believe in the power of words and how it affects your reality. For example, when you listen and sing to the chorus of “I’m Special”, “I know what I can do and how far I’ll go – cos I’m myself – I’m Special.” I want you to feel empowered, unique, strong, and that you have infinite possibilities to achieve your dreams by being yourself. My mission in this world is to help women go through a journey of self-love and acceptance through lyrics and music.
What is beautiful and “normal” is a matter of where you grew up and what culture tells you is “right” and what is not. The secret is to understand what makes you special, different, and embrace your special traits as your strength to make a difference and make this world a better place. If someone tells you that you are not good enough, that you can’t make it, that you are not beautiful enough – it’s just a reflection of what they think about themselves or what they have been told by others. No matter where you are located in this world right now, and if you had a bad day, remember that – You are Special.
I believe that every person’s soul lives inside their body and your body is your home. You should “feel comfortable in your own home” – in your own body. Reconnect with your body, your instincts, trust what your body tells you. Nowadays, society still tells us we should be thinner and we should lose weight just to look thin. It’s important to be healthy, to eat well, and exercise for a healthy body and soul while always understanding our natural body shape and our physiognomy.
I believe in you. I see you. I know you have the strength to overcome all the bad things people told you when you were a child and even now. I know how it feels to be treated as not good enough, people seeing only the size of your body and your looks and I can tell you that you have that innate light inside yourself that makes you unique and special. Please don’t keep that light only to yourself – share it with us – You are Special.
When I was a child, I was told to eat less and lose weight. My body was “not good enough”, “not thin enough” and I didn’t feel good about the way I looked. Later in life, I traveled to many places such as India, China, United States, Europe, and Africa. In these journeys, I had the honor to talk to many people from these countries, and I’ve heard things that I could not understand that shocked me.
I remember my enchanting trip to India, where I’ve seen the discrimination of people based on their color of skin, the obstacles people with darker skin (which I think is beautiful) face every day. I’ve seen women and men trying to bleach their skin to look whiter, basically, trying to look like others – not seeing that they are beautiful naturally. This really broke my heart.
In China, another fascinating country, I have heard the same thing about the beauty standards of having whiter skin but there I have heard about another phenomenon, surgical procedures to widen their eyes to look more western (a phenomenon that also happens in South Korea). In western countries, black women straighten their (amazing curly) hair to look like other women with straight hair. This is a phenomenon that is slowly changing, but black women who don’t straighten their hair may be seen as unprofessional and might not be hired to certain jobs just because of their hair. These are just some examples of things women experience every day. We have the power to create a better environment for women of all cultures around the world. There are many inspiring women all over the world who share their body positivity and body neutrality as a way of life which is very important in the reality we create. Each of these women started from a small step. The next step starts with you – by accepting yourself and remembering that you are special.
Women should not lose weight just to fit into another type of body dictated by other beauty standards. Sometimes our bodies change because of mental health issues and the pressure of our daily lives. There are women who may lose weight because of depression or disease. These women often get positive feedback from people saying “Wow, you’ve lost weight – you look great” or the opposite “Oh, you’ve gained weight” but usually they don’t see that inner soul which is damaged and just wants a hug or support. What really matters is how you nourish your body and soul. Your body is precious because it gives you the opportunity to express your special soul. So be kind to your body, remember to make your body a warm and happy place to live in.
No matter what is the shape of your body and what size the fashion industry labeled you, you are a model. People always told me that I’m not thin, that I’m not fat – that I’m “In between”. I know many women who are under the “In between” category. I think that this categorization of women and models as “models” or “Plus Size Models” or “In between” is completely wrong and has a horrible effect on the body image of women. The fashion industry should stop categorizing women just because of the shape of their bodies and start calling all models – “models”, no matter which size. Trust me, women don’t need the help of a label such as “Plus Size” to know what is the size of their bodies.
Diversity and inclusion are part of my core values in the art I create and share with you. I see so many talented, charismatic, intelligent, and gorgeous women who have so much to give to this world and they have so many dreams, but since they are physically disabled or with a certain syndrome, many doors are closed to them. I don’t see their disabilities – I see opportunities. I see what special gifts and wisdom they can share with us if only we give them the chance. Sometimes, because of our egos, we think we know better than others, better than those who we think are “inferior” to us, and we miss the opportunity to learn and grow together. There is room for everyone in this world, and we need to create this difference when we meet someone by seeing their special soul and not judging them by their appearance. We sometimes forget that we are all “disabled” in some way, some of us are disabled physically, but most of us are disabled, injured in some way from the inside (heartbroken, sad, depressed, anxious) – the fact that we can’t see the disability, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I would like to see more people with disabilities in companies, in the music and fashion industry, and in other sectors.
Adi Yacobi is a singer and songwriter. She has created the Women Empowerment Music Project, which is about body positivity, inclusion, self-acceptance, disability, diversity and women empowerment.
by WOW | Mar 8, 2015 | Blog, Director's Desk, Girl Arise
By Kavita Emmanuel | Founder and Director, WOW
Happy Women’s Day 2015 to all the women out there!
These wishes come from a heavy heart but with all sincerity that I can muster at a time when India is shocked at her own attitude towards women.
“We have the best culture. In our culture there is no space for a woman,” says ML Sharma.
Do you wonder what goes on in people’s mind when they make such statements? Do they really hold on to such archaic world views? Have we not progressed with all the awareness surrounding us on gender equality?
Should Leslie Udwin’s film be released? – is the hot debate at the moment in the country. Frankly, I am more shocked by what the defense lawyers, ML Sharma and AP Singh, have said.
Can our lawyers use male chauvinism, misogyny, and patriarchy as a legal defense for rape and murder? How does condoning acts of violence against women and blaming these actions on culture not bring us shame beyond recovery? On the other hand, are these defenses mere excuses to not allow the finer, mature side of human nature to take over one’s baser instincts?
To me, this statement is the essence of a fallen human nature; a human behavior that so vehemently and arrogantly parades its desire to manipulate and oppress fellow humans.
My greatest fear is this: Why isn’t everyone infuriated by these statements or do some people in some sense agree with what is being said? How long will we continue to hear: “A girl should be home before 6,” or “Boys will be boys,” or “her dress invites trouble.”
Government schemes for the empowerment of women, new laws to protect women and the campaigns for equality by women for women focus on one half of the gender equation. There is another half that we can no longer ignore. For too long we have ignored the empowerment of men. The truth is that most men today pathetically display their need to be empowered.
We need to send the message of equality to our boys in our schools and colleges who are so accustomed to seeing gender based discrimination play out right before their eyes.
If we do not address gender inequality now, we will continue to raise male leaders and influencers endorsing the same old dehumanizing attitude towards women.
If we do not address gender inequality now, our generation will have a hand in perpetuating the norm that says empowerment is good so as long as it does not challenge gender roles and a man’s place in society.
Our boys need to be taught to question societal norms that limit women. They need to come alongside us women to stand up and say: Men and women, we are equal. Men and women, together we can reclaim the dignity, value and worth that belong to women.