Gender Equality Mela is one of the key annual events conducted by the Women’s Development Cell of Miranda House. It is a celebration of the will to survive and thrive. It is a part of the efforts at generating discussions and creating a space for saying what is often left unsaid and for including those who are often left behind in the ideas and plans of ‘development’. The Gender Equality Mela is a part of MH-WDC’s campaign with One Billion Rising (OBR).
This year’s Gender Equality Mela was based on celebrating feminist conversations towards equality, the central theme being ‘Gender and Work’. There was also the celebration of MH-WDC’s Coffee Table Book, ‘Azaad Labon ki Guftagu’ which strives to provide with snapshots of MH-WDC’s journey and their tireless efforts at ‘engaging with wanting to create a more equal and free world, a world where gender equality becomes a live reality for us’, as the book reads.
The 3-day event played host to numerous speakers and panelists like Suneeta Dhar (feminist activist, Jagori), Bulbal Das (legal feminist activist, All India Women’s Conference), Jyotsna Chatterjee and Padmini (Joint Women’s Programme). These speakers emphasised on the introduction to the history of the feminist movement. The topic of manual scavenging was taken up by Bezwada Wilson (National Convener of Safai Karamchari Andolan) and Bhasha Singh. The session on Child Rights and Child Sexual Abuse was taken up by Vaishnava (Bud Foundation), Veronica Xavier (Child Rights and You) and Natuve (dramatics society of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College). The round table discussion on Students in Politics consisted of speakers from Pinjra Tod and Ramjas students. An ‘unconference’ was also organised which placed emphasis on feminism through art, language and music.
On Day 2, the session on Gender and Intersectionality was taken up by Dr. Chandra Sagar and Kusum Ji (All India Network of Sex Workers) and Renuka Bhagat. The session on Trans Community and Work was taken up by Rudrani Chettri. A session on Women and Work through development framework was also conducted by Neetha N. (National Labour Institute). The interactive session on ‘Queering Workplaces’ along with Lafz 2.0, the open mic featured speakers from Nazariya and Delhi Queer Pride. Day 2 also showcased nukkad natak performances by children from SMS (Srijanatmak Manushi Sanstha), LSR dramatics society and Anukriti, the Hindi dramatics society of Miranda House.
On Day 3, the first session on Taking Feminist Conversation Forward was hosted by celebrated author and feminist Kamla Bhasin, wherein she presented her letter to patriarchy. The second session on Women and Media was conducted by Rakhee Bakshi (Women’s Feature Service), Shrey Ila Anasuya (Feminist and Freelance Journalist), Radha Rani (BBC) and Deepajana Pal (fiction writer). The session on Gender and Masculinity was taken up by Pavel (Breakthrough India), Ahmad Farz (CHSJ, Centre for Health and Social Justice) and Apurv Jain (worker on issues of gender and sexuality). The 3-day mela ended with a screening of the movie Hidden Figures.
Image Credits: Miranda House Women’s Development Cell