Women across India pledge to #BeBoldForChange : International Women's Day 2017

                                                                                               Women taking pledge to be bold at Meghalaya


Visibility and awareness help drive positive change for women. On International Women's Day 2017, FXB India Suraksha (FXBIS) celebrated by enabling women to share their stories of courage and perseverance. By revisiting their steps towards becoming empowered, they made visible to their peers that change is possible. Their boldness in putting their stories out in public was not only an act of generosity but also an inspiration for their peers, within their communities and those beyond. This year more than 800 women at FXBIS project locations in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu came together for the global #BeBoldForChange campaign.


The drummer's announcement of the celebration of women's achievements created a buzz of excitement and anticipation in the project village at Tamil Nadu. Women from several villages in Puducherry boldly displayed messages for gender equity and rallied for change within their communities. During a seminar the importance of the participation of both sexes in the bringing about gender equality. Dr. Iswarya from Primary Health Centre, Thirupuvanai highlighted how, “ To challenge the socio- economic problems faced by women with boldness, they have to have a good health first”. At both places women participated in cultural activities including the singing of Tamil Thai Vazhththu (Tamil anthem) and fun activities that included sports and energizers. Ms. Anbarasi, Radhiga and Shanthini from the project village were felicitated for attaining rankings in the state level badminton competition.


In the first ever celebration of International Women’s Day in Ri-Bhoi district, Meghalaya the message was a call for unity and coherence. Ms. S.N. Lamare, the District Development Manager of Ri-Bhoi District interacting with the group highlighted the tremendous opportunity for development and advised them to approach the Government departments for schemes and benefits that is exclusively meant for the farmers and especially for women.


At Andhra Pradesh, Manipur and Rajasthan through a public seminar and screening of documentaries on Malala Yousufzai and "Driving with Selvi" education and bold action for rights were championed. The participation of many Anganwadi workers highlighted the importance of participating in the government's empowerment programme. Ms. Sulochana, a long time member of FXBIS led the women in a pledged to bid adieu to the culture of silence. They expressed solidarity with women suffering gross violations of their rights and dignity around the world with a pledge to work boldly for positive change.


Apart from raising awareness of their rights and provisioning a space for women to interact with each other without the pressures of regular household chores, equity in medical care was the focus in Uttar Pradesh and Assam. In collaboration with Just Dial CSR, session on personal hygiene was organized at Uttar Pradesh, a consultation with doctors and distribution of medical kits was highly appreciated by the participants. The FXBIS Vihaan ART centers in Assam recognized the efforts of more than 50 health care providers and centers pledged to treat female PLHIV equal respect with men.


In Jharkhand, women took a “Swachtaya (Cleanliness) Pledge” to revive traditional water sources and reaffirmed their role in promoting the well being of their community. As Jal and Swasth sahiyas they have been at the forefront of implementing the government's Swacch Bharat campaign. They shared their ideas for holistic development of the village and emphasized the building of toilets. Through flip charts they also explained how sanitation and private toilets play a crucial role in creating a strong economy, as well as improving health and protecting people’s safety and dignity, particularly women’s and girls’.



                                   Women rallying for change in Puducherry                                  Women mobilizing their peers to stand up for change


The thread unifying the celebrations across states this year was that by sharing of experiences women's economic, political, and social achievements were recognized. Though a small step, it is seen as a platform where women break the glass ceiling over information and inspire each other to take action against bigotry. Many of these women were also felicitated for their courage and inspiring their communities to act against discrimination. One of these women was Mrs. Sathya, aged 39 from Puducherry. She is beacon of courage within her society. She shared how she overcame the manifold hurdles presented not only by the community but also women against the formation of a Self help group. She overcame them all and earned a state level certificate for forming of Panchayat Level Federation (PLF) and linking them with financial institutions for economic assistance. She motivated the gathered women by showing how through perseverance she has now formed, mobilized and made 14 groups in the village function effectively.


At FXBIS we believe that boldness is the impulse that drives a person to achieve their potentials at different stages of life and through the past decade we have striven to help women achieve the same. Through its interventions FXBIS has been empowering women in difficult circumstances by providing quality education and access to information technology, facilitating livelihood opportunities, equal access to medical facilities and making them aware of their rights. Ms. Muniyammal from Puducherry shared her experience of becoming a peer educator from being a domestic worker . She emphasized how women empowerment does not stop from only going to some casual labour and economically contribute to their families but to take part in family and community level decision making for holistic development of the family unit and community as whole.


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