Posted by Sangat
The South Asia Launch of One Billion Rising 2017
Held on 19th September, in Kathmandu, Nepal
The South Asia One Billion Rising was launched at Tewa Center, Kathmandu, Nepal on September 19, 2016 as a part of the global movement One Billion Rising.
Renowned feminist and rights activists Kamla Bhasin launched the South Asia chapter at a program jointly organised by 20 civil society organizations where over 450 women and men feminists from around the world were present and expressed their feminist solidarity. “We are rising to say enough is enough. Over one billion women around the world suffer violence every year. Do you know of any other war that affects one billion people?” said Bhasin. She said the time had come to cremate or bury patriarchal thoughts and practices which are at the root of violence against women.
Since 2013, people in more than 200 countries have come together every year on 14 February to call for justice and equality for women through dance, music and other creative actions. The Valentine’s Day is selected for this campaign to say NO to violence and YES to LOVE. Kamla Bhasin has coined a slogan Not Love of Power, Power of Love, and has popularized it all over.
This year OBR calls for solidarity against exploitation of women workers. Feminist activists all over the world are connecting with and expressing their solidarity with all kinds of women workers, including women home makers, whose work is often not even recognized and appreciated. The violence women working as nurses, sex workers, domestic workers, factory workers, farm workers is being highlighted and condemned by OBR.
Through the collective efforts of activists in 200 countries, the campaign has mobilised, engaged, awakened and joined people worldwide to end violence against women and Mother Nature. It has made violence against women a global human issue not relegated to country or tribe or class or religion, and revealed it as a patriarchal mandate, present in every culture of the world. OBR sees and shows connections between patriarchy, caste, class, race and the neo liberal economic paradigm which collude with each other to colonise, exploit and oppress women.
Along with the launch, to celebrate Social Commitment, two outstanding women, feminist activists were awarded the Meeto Memorial Award for Young South Asian. The Meeto Memorial Award for Young South Asians was established in 2009 in memory of Meeto Bhasin Malik. Meeto was a young dancer, human rights activist, and scholar. What was remarkable about Meeto was her commitment to social justice and peace. She was pursuing her PhD at Baliol College, Oxford when, at the age of 27, she passed on. Her mother Kamla Bhasin instituted this award in Meeto’s memory and it has been given seven times thus far.
Jayanthi Kuru Utumpala from Srilanka, the first person of Sri Lanka to climb Mount Everest and Wasfia Nazreen, the only Bangladeshi to have climbed the seven highest peaks in each continent are the Meeto Memorial awardees of 2016. They are not only mountaineers but also dedicated women rights advocates.
To inspire the young generation, the newly appointed Nepal Supreme Court Judge Sapana Pradhan Malla and Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) member Bandana Rana were also felicitated during the South Asian celebration event.
During this program, for the first time, one organization and two individuals of Nepal with were given the “Sangatee Grant Award”. This award was also introduced as “Kamla – Abha Award” to honor feminist Kamla Bhasin and Abha Bhaiya for their contribution to women’s rights, peace and security in South Asia. The award was initiated by Nepali feminists and Civil Society Organisations to recognize organizations and individuals working in the field of women and minority issues. The recipients of this year’s Sangatee Grant Awards were Women Forum for Women – an organisation advocating for rights of women working in informal and entertainment sectors, LGBT rights activist Badri Pun and Dalit rights activist Nirmala Kumari Gupta.
Sangat Core Group members, who are also leading Women’s Rights activists from South Asia, Khushi Kabir, Suneeta Dhar, Rita Thapa, Muktasree Chakma Sathi, Abha Bhaiya, Anuradha Kapoor, Nandita Gandhi, Nepali feminists Chandni Joshi, Saloni Singh, Hisila Yami, and many others, and 34 participant of the Sangat 21st Month Long Course from 12 countries were also present at the event.
The program ended with powerful cultural performances by the participants of the Sangat course and talented artists of Nepal including singer Sumon Thapa. The audience witnessed a pin drop silence when Word Warriors of Nepal performed their poetry called “You do me no harm” depicting the rise of survivors of domestic violence.
This evening was filled with love, global solidarity and feminist energy. At the very end every one present danced along with the activists from Nepal Mahila Ekta who had prepared a flash mob on the OBR song, “Break the Chain”. The young people who attended stayed on for a long time to express their solidarity and to say they were most inspired by the program.
Sangat is a feminist South Asian network.
All images courtesy Sangat.