International Women`s Day is an occasion to honour and praise women for their accomplishments. VideoVolunteers celebrates and dedicates this day to the IndiaUnheard women Community Correspondents. They all have faced the realities of being a women in a patriarchal society that wants to restrict their ambitions in life. With their outstanding personalities, these women have overcome many barriers to give voice and speak out for the unheard women in their communities. We spoke to our Community Correspondents Varsha Jawalgekar and Rohini Pawar about the role of the women and their work as Community Correspondents.
Our Community Correspondent Varsha Jawalgekar from Bihar in North India always had a demand equal rights to men. She convinced her parents to let her study instead of getting her married at 15. She moved to Bihar and started working as a social worker. When she faced first-hand discrimination against herself in her home, she felt paralysed until she met women fighting for land rights in Chattisgarh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh:
"These women inspired me when I was going through my own personal turmoil. I was reminded that a house is run by a woman but not owned by a woman."
Varsha decided to change her situation and become the decision-maker within her own household and organisation. Through her work she continues to meet strong women, who remind her of two meanings of being a women: strength and struggle. They are closely interlinked. Whereas the latter is caused by inequality, the first is consumed by the fight against it. Because there is no equality in life, she feels that against all odds, the only call to her life is to continue her work with her community and women in particular:
"It was really challenging for me to film Sunita a Dalit woman being dragged through her village, when she was defending her land. But her firmness and demand inspired me at the same time. She wanted justice more than anything she owned."
Varsha`s video had a great impact. It changed the dynamics of the Dalit community in the village. Sunita was able to stay in the village. People in the community started to understand that they too could speak out against injustice too. They discovered the power in their unity. They were losing their fear and gaining courage in staying together in what they believe is fair and right.
Varsha sees how from childhood onwards girls are deprived of equal rights, but often discrimination comes towards women in a very invisible and subtle way without any outward display of violence:
"Women and men are often pushed into a certain kind of behaviour by society giving them a certain position in life. Without questioning certain structures they act on them and women become subordinate to men according to traditional society structures. They experience distress and suffer, but very few question it. But if I see the spark in the eyes of women, because they have realised the need to change their own destinies and start fighting, it is the happiest moment in my life."
Varsha is a woman with this certain kind of spark in her eyes, when she report on issues from her community. She is inspired by women and inspires them.
The story of our Community Correspondent Rohini Pawar also shows that spark.