On 21st March, Shabana Azmi, the acclaimed Bollywood actress and famous activist visited Miranda House and held a discussion with young boys and girls about pressing issues like gender sensitization and women empowerment. The event was organized by the joint efforts of the Women Development Cell of Miranda House, Parivartan Gender forum of Kirori Mal College and NSS of Hindu College. As was expected, quite a large crowd turned up for the event.Although the boys were fewer in number, they participated in the talk and asked insightful questions.
The actress was late, as is usually the case with celebrities and the program which was scheduled to begin at 2, began at 3:20. The crowd cheered and clapped as Shabana Azmi made her way to the stage, clad in a white Anarkali suit and looking magnetic as she always does. She began by apologizing for making the crowd wait, defending herself by stating that she has come directly from the airport, without having even a sip of water and so she was hungry-to hear young minds speak. Her views about the recent rape case and equality of women impressed us all. She made it clear that ‘equal’ doesn’t mean ‘same’, equal means equality of opportunities, which is clearly lacking in Indian society and the change has to begin at home.
She also related many of her experiences that she had had in other countries as well as in India. She stresses on improving the attitude of the police and providing security to the victims so that they are spared the embarrassment and also to ensure that women can travel whenever they want, wearing whatever they want. Her comment on ‘item numbers’, that a song’s lyrics are no invitation to rape was another which received a loud applause. I was particularly affected by her observation about a course book of third graders, which says “where is the father? In the office. Where is the mother? In the kitchen.” She concluded that our society is taught this way, and change cannot be brought about in this generation, but that means that we have to keep working for it and raise our voice without giving up.
This was Delhi University’s efforts to fight violence against women. And I must say, Miranda house with all other organizers did a brilliant job in making it a successful one.
Picture credits- Swadha Singh
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