The scene at Tikri border on Monday was refreshingly different from other days as the stage was exclusively reserved for the women agitators to mark International Women’s Day.
The move was to celebrate the spirit of womanhood and show symbolic solidarity with equality for women. The dias was managed and used to address the crowd by women only. The farm leaders even refrained from speaking off-stage.
“It’s their (women) day, focus on them only,” said Sanam Singh, the state coordinator of Punjab Kisan Manch.
The celebration started at around 9 am and went on till 5 pm. Women, who arrived at the Tikri from far-off places in Punjab and Haryana gave fiery speeches, recited poems of revolution and shared their opinions on farm laws while addressing the crowd.
“The speeches were never this interesting. Our sisters are rocking it,” said Kiranjit Panna who was sitting among the audience.
35-year-old Sandeep Kaur, who is an Assistant Professor in a college, came along with her younger sister from Mansa, Punjab to attend the celebration.
Her whole family is participating in the agitation at Tikri for over two months. Sandeep remarked the move as a welcome change.
“It was in-waiting. For months, our women are supporting the men from the background. The momentum is building that we should now be allowed to lead from the front,” she said.
“If we have to break the arrogance of the government which is hell-bent on imposing the farm laws that we don’t need at all, women should be allowed equal participation in the movement,” Sandeep commented
“So far, we have been largely limited to spectators. Now is the time to share the leadership,” she said.
Akin to Sandeep, many women arrive at the border to share the celebration of the day which comes once in a year. 26-year-old Parminder Gill, who is pursuing her career in poetry, recited poems about various agitations and struggles which demanded extreme sacrifice but eventually evolved into a catalyst of change across the world.
“Even our very own freedom struggle from the British colonialism was full of sacrifice and hardship. Men and women equally participated there. We need to shed-off the burden of patriarchy and reclaim our spaces whether in our homes or in a social movement like this,” she said.
The eagerness to get heard was such that the stage managers had to decline many requests.
“It seemed that they have not been listen to for ages. It’s natural since most of the communication and agenda is set by men. We were bound by time otherwise each one of them would have received a chance to speak,” said Jasbir Kaur, state committee member of Punjab Kisan Union.
The women also saw this event as a ray of hope in the community, especially falling in Haryana where in remote towns, women do not even step outside without permission from male members of their family.
“It took us generations to break the shackles of Sati tradition to reach this stage. It may take us many more years but we will be leading the world one day,” said Jagroop Kaur, president, Kheti-Kisan Union.
“And as far as this protest is concerned, we will not budge down, we will not turn away, till the black laws are scrapped,” she added.