VACHA Launching OBR Programme:
A Book Launch & a Symposium on ‘Girls at Margin’
‘One Billion Rise (OBR) against Violence against Women Campaign activities on February 14, 2013 were launched by Vacha, Mumbai, on the eve of 16 days campaign against Violence against Women and Girls on November 23-24, 2012 with the symposium Girls at Margin: Questioning Constraints Claiming Future. Sonal Shukla, Director of VACHA was the heart and soul of this extremely engrossing programme with serious analysis, creative expressions, interdisciplinary inputs and meticulously designed session plans culminating into recommendations emerging from collective wisdom.
Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Actor Nandita Das, Sonal Shukla
The event began with rendering of a song from the album, Kishori Geet produced by Vacha and a power point presentation by girls sharing about routine violation of their rights. They raised questions on how they are to enjoy freedoms under existing socio-economic structures. These girls were from various basties where the organisation works is active. They raised these issues because the book, Rights of Adolescent Girls in India: A Critical Look at Laws and Policies by Saumya Uma was being released in the inaugural session. It was after they raised their voice that Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research and Chairperson of WomenPowerConnect gave the keynote address and gave context to such queries. Actor and film maker, Nandita Das was in Chair and she discussed strategies for dealing with girls’ issues in different ways based on her personal experience in a packed hall of 129 delegates from NGOs, Researchers, creative artistes, teachers and students from colleges and schools and journalists.
(From L-R: Adv. Saumya Uma, Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Actor Nandita Das, Prof. Vibhuti Patel)
After the book-launch, the symposium Girls at Margins –Questioning Constraints, Claiming Future coorganised by Vacha and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung began. Among the presenters were Prof. Rashmi Oza, Head, Department of Law; University of Mumbai and Prof. Monika Sakhrani of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Head, SNDT Women’ University, Dr. Medha Kotwal, Director, Alochana, Research & Documentation Centre in Pune; Dr. Trupti Shah, Director, Sahiyar, Vadodara; Gangaben Baria, a Community organizer; Daivshala Giri, a health and Gender Trainer. Besides, the girls who had to face multiple marginality were represented by Hasina Khan of Awaz-e-Niswan UNICEF. Shalini Mahajan of Lesbian and Bisexual Association (LABIA) and Malini Chib, President, ADAPT (formerly Spastic Society of India), Prof. Veena Poonacha, Director, Research Centre for women’s Studies, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai. Organisations representing girls with multifaceted challenges were also Kranti that is working on issues of daughters of sex workers and Disha, which works with girls emerging from orphanages and other institutions at the age 18 and Vidhayak Sansad that is situated in the heart of tribal land adjoining Mumbai.
The next day, the number of participants was 81 and the strong student contingent continued enthusiastically. On the theme of Changemakers, organizations Sahayog, Vacha, CORO for literacy and UNICEF shared from their intervention strategies and outcomes.
The session on ‘Visualization of Future’ had 3 speakers, Oorvi Ranadive, a high school student and poet, Audrey D’mello, Deputy CEO of Majlis Law and Svati Chakravarty-Bhakal, the researcher behind Satyamev Jayate, the TV programme on social issues by actor Amir Khan.
The symposium had emotionally charged and analytically sharp content that revealed commitment and honesty of purpose to confront many disturbing aspects of girls' lives beyond the alarmingly adverse sex ratio for girls and women. The symposium brought to the fore many layers of girls' marginalization and helped the gathering in formulating and responding to strategies adopted by the government as well as by non-government organi