Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
“Humme chahiye aazadi! We want freedom!”
The popular refrain from 2016 found its way into 2019 on Thursday, 4 April, during the ‘Women March for Change’, where women, non-binary and transgender people mobilised to protest violence against minorities and demand their constitutional rights before the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.
The aim? To get issues concerning women, transgenders and non-binary into election discourse – for starters.
Despite the blistering heat, the march saw a diverse cross-section of people across class and caste lines, from students to activists, widows, sex workers and transwomen, with individual demands all under the umbrella of women’s rights.
“Our demands are multifold. We want representation – to enact 33 percent reservation (Women’s Bill) – we also want horizontal reservation in education,” one of the student organisers, Mridula (in picture above) told The Quint.
“We demand the elimination of gender discrimination. We want a focus on health issues, employment wage and social security. ”Mridula, student organiser
“The march is taking place today in 20 states and 135 places with an aim to give a call to the women of this country to vote out this anti-constitutional and anti-people government,” said Shabhnam Hashmi, activist and one of the organisers.
‘The Government is Saffronising Our Systems’
“There are more than 200 women groups from across India that have come together to march in different parts [of the country]. All the policies from the past five years have been anti-poor and anti-people, and women have been worst affected. Women realise the need to vote out this government.”Shabhnam Hashmi, social activist, one of the organisers of the march
The air was charged with chants of ‘Halla Bol’ and the loud ringing of ‘Awaaz Do’ quickly followed by ‘Hum ek hai’, while the various of groups of women marched purposely forward from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar in in Delhi.
“The present government has been saffronising our universities, our textbooks, our syllabi, and democracy is being shredded away. It’s important to mobilise right before the elections so that all women and minorities realise the power their vote holds. Marches are incredibly important in a democratic process to help us call out the hypocrisy and ineffectiveness of governments in creative ways.”Astha, LSR, literature student
‘We as Transwomen Need To Be Given Equal Rights’
“Our trans lives are marginalised and thrown out. As women, we are constrained and oppressed by the patriarchy, by fascism. The Transgender Bill constrained me a lot and put me in a difficult position - I am here because we, as transwomen, are also women, and we also need to be acknowledged and given equal rights as any other woman.Ray, DU Law student
‘Garibi Hatao, They Say, But Who Will Do It?’
“I am a widow and have not been receiving my pension, so we are marching so that we also get the rights due to us. If its Modi or anyone else, we just want them provide some benefits to poor people and look at us. We have come to the march because we want someone to hear us. Maybe not for us, but at least for our children and grandchildren.”Sumitra, widow from Haryana
“Our demands are for the government to listen to us. Close or regulate the thekas (alcohol shops), our boys are getting spoiled because of it. Sometimes, I feel like killing myself, what has this or any government done for the poor? Is a poor person’s child destined to remain poor? Garibi hatao, they say, but who will do it?Susheel, widow from Badarpur
‘Important for Women to Collectivise Against Fascist Forces’
“It’s important that women collectivise against forces that are fascist and allow only a single narrative to prevail. When only one narrative is allowed to run, the narratives that will fade away are the marginalised. When these disappear, it will be difficult to create a politics that is accommodative. This is the time to create a space where we present counter-arguments.”Sabhika, journalism student
“What does it mean to challenge patriachy? On a mass scale like this, we are challenging policies and toxic ideas around us.”Anubhuti, LSR student
Despite the multitude of voices, the women were out in solidarity and sisterhood with each other.
“We want our issues to appear in the mainstream discourse. We want our voices recognised, it is a collective voice with many organisations and different women,” said Mridula.
“We are here for women’s freedoms and rights. We also want women’s employment and education issues to be taken up.A Class 8 student