The ladies coach of the Delhi metro is touted to be a safe space for women. However, an experience in the general coach brought the nuances of reservation and safe spaces for women in perspective. Read on to find out why.

After a tiring day at the college, all I wanted was a comforting nap in my only place of solace, the Metro. It had already arrived on the platform, so I rushed towards the ladies’ coach, only to land up in the general coach. It was crowded with almost no space to stand. Just then I saw a man sitting on the seat reserved for ladies in the general coach. I approached towards that seat, but as soon as I reached there, I decided not to take it.

My decision was based on a few observations I made during my experiences of travelling in the metro. The first one was the question which always came to my mind- Why do I need a reserved space as a woman? I could recollect the phrase “missing women” which was coined by Amartya Sen when he showed that in parts of the developing world, the ratio of women to men in the population is suspiciously low. The same case of missing women arises when it comes to women in public spaces. Because of the lack safe spaces for women, the women’s coach brings in a sense of comfort and is one of the safe spaces in the lives of women. Suppose there were no ladies coach on the Delhi metro, then maybe these “missing women” may disappear even further. As it is not always the case that women travel alone, there is the provision for reserved seats for women in the general coach. Therefore, these underlying problems make it very necessary for me and all other women to have a reserved safe space.

In another instance, I saw a woman in her twenties scolding a man to get up from his seat (which was not reserved), as if, he is obliged to show the chivalry she was expecting from him. But even if it was a reserved seat, on that very instance I had chaotic tension in my mind over my entitlement towards that reserved space. What defines my entitlement towards that seat? Is it my sex or is it because of the social hindrances I face that make me obliged to it? Women are the ones who are on the receiving end of social discrimination. But when I consider myself as an empowered and aware woman, I have to check my privilege of enfranchisement to this seat and chivalry I expect from men. When I say I need a safe space, I also imply that I would not use this boon to my advantage for a warranted chivalry to be shown by men.

Feminism and women empowerment are not just women’s issues. They are a collective of efforts by men and women to equalize opportunities for all.  The equalization will happen only when I don’t use my identity, but my social disadvantage due to the dysfunctional society.  My feminism stands for empowerment of women not because they are women, but because they faced the evils of the society as they are women. In a way I offered the seat to that man, and that made me feel empowered.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Sriya Rane

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December 20th, 2015. For most people it was a normal Sunday; get some rest, do some shopping, maybe go watch a movie. But for AIESEC in Delhi IIT, this day marked its grand annual event – Balkalakaar 2015.

This spectacle has its roots embedded in the nation’s responsibility towards the weaker sections of society. It centers around giving a day of fun and frolic to the underprivileged children of Delhi, to put a smile on their faces and spread some festive cheer.

Held at Birla VidyaNiketan, Saket, Balkalakaar was a roaring success, touching the lives of 2,200 children.The project heads of the event were Mandeep Singh and SukritiHanda under the guidance of the local committee president Karan Sawhney. The event wouldn’t have been such a success if not for the support of our sponsors such as Lioness Club, Gandhi Fellowship, Piramal, Ram Medicos, Richlite and Delhi College of Photography. The Chief Guest for the event was the current counselor, ex-mayor of South Delhi and President Women wing BJP Delhi, Mrs. SaritaChoudhary.

Over 200 volunteers turned up for the event, each responsible for maximising the enthralling experience for 20 children. The day began with some classic AIESEC culture – Jives. The event progressed with multiple surprises for the visibly captivated children, a couple of which were a magic show and a live music performance by renowned band, Sankraman.

The main event of the evening was the drawing competition; 2,200 children equipped with pencils, paper and sketch pens pouring their hearts and souls into a simple piece of paper and each was nothing short of a masterpiece. Seeing the smiles on their bright young faces and the glimmer of hope in their eyes, one wouldn’t be exaggerating if he or she were to say that the event had achieved the vision dreamt by AIESEC in Delhi IIT.

Drawing competition at Balkalakaar 2015
Drawing competition at Balkalakaar 2015

The volunteers had plenty to say about their experiences at Balkalakaar. Initially finding the children difficult to handle, they slowly warmed to them, soaking in the happiness on their faces when they were given balloons or played around with balls.

One story that captured the imagination of the masses involved two young girls watching a plane fly over them. Having observed the same, they began to wonder whether they’d ever be lucky enough to touch the sky.

These children have dreams, have wishes, desires and ambitions for the future. What they need is an opportunity, a chance to prove themselves, a path towards a brighter future. As citizens of the nation, it is imperative that we do our bit and help mold the leaders of tomorrow.