The ladies from the villages of Dandhegar and Godavali organised a protest rally on August 21st to support Anna Hazare’s fight against corruption. Comments from one of our staff who joined in are below:
“I look around me and cannot help but smile.
Kalpana beats on a drum and jostles the others to make sure that she is near the front. Trupti is a tiny wisp of a girl but has been shouting slogans in a voice triple her size steadily for the last hour. Usha, unminding of her fancy red and green salwar kameez with glittery beadwork that catches the sun, picks up trash along the side of the road as we march towards the town square. Jayashree walks slowly but determinedly, her voice loud and clear when she shouts. And Jared silently brings up the rear, making sure that none of us are run over by traffic and drawing curious stares in the process.
This is the scene at Grampari’s first ever ladies protest to join Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption efforts.
The ladies first broached the subject at their monthly ladies meeting at Grampari. They recounted instances when corruption has affected their lives and lauded Hazare’s fast given that he is almost 75 years old.
“Yes, but what shall WE do? How shall we go from talking about this to action?” The question was posed by Mangal – who works at Grampari taking care of the premises. A few minutes of silence followed and then several voices came together and proclaimed “A march! Let’s protest to show our solidarity!”
We talk about womens’ empowerment but it’s not always clear what this actually looks like. To be clear, empowerment is 30 women of different castes coming together to protest through the town of Panchgani. The women were not shy either – while my chants became softer and slightly embarrassed sounding the closer I came to town, the womens’ became louder and more determined. Carrying trash bags so that we could pick up trash along the way (we’re all about multi-tasking at Grampari!), I start to drift towards the back. Mangal gives me a look that implies I am being too hesitant and I realize that if they can find the courage to shout loudly, then so can I.
We talk a lot about helping village women find their voice – sometimes though, they help us find ours.”