Location: Social Support, Mumbai
Date: 3 March
Artists Anonymous and ReRight presented #NoWomanUnheard: a gathering of slam poetry and speakers who came together to say that every woman has the right to be heard, every woman has the right to decide. From disability rights activists, anti-FGM crusaders, maternity rights advocates, gender studies scholars, access to abortion groups and women's rights NGO workers, the event united a diverse, grassroots level cross-section of people committed to a future where #SheDecides, all coming together through the power of art.
Mumbai celebrated SheDecides Day on 3 March, a day after Holi, the festival of colours. The spirit of celebration spread across age-groups and communities as people gathered at the Fun Republic Social pledging support to #NoWomanUnheard, an event organised by ReRight Foundation and Artists Anonymous to spread the message of SheDecides.
This SheDecides Day event was all about listening to women’s voices reclaiming sexual and reproductive rights and amplifying them through the power of art. Reright’s co-founder Subarna Ghosh introduced the story and purpose behind the SheDecides movement as the simple message of the manifesto echoed through the huge gathering of Mumbaikers.
Raia, a young musician and coder spoke about the invisibility of women in technology before enthralling everyone with her composition. The first speaker for the evening was Surabhi Srivastava who spoke about running a podcast to end the stigma of abortion and her experience at Love Matters, an organization working for women’s sexual and reproductive rights. The next speaker was Priya Patil, a trans woman who has fought all adversities to get educated as a social worker and secured a job. In spite of being homeless for over a year, she decided to contest municipal elections so that she can work towards alleviating poverty and ensure trans rights.
The audience, ranging from 16-year-old school students to 60-year-old gender studies scholars, were equally inspired when the first spoken word performer and founder of Artists Anonymous, Shruti Ghosh took them for an imaginary walk through the park. Her piece entitled ‘The Park Bench Men’ is based on a young girl’s experience of harassment while a ‘revolution brews in her belly’ hit us hard.
The next two speakers shook everyone out of complacency and reiterated the need to define 'a new normal' by making sure SheDecides - everytime - without question. Insia Dariwala, co-founder of Sahiyo, gave the audience a moving account of how little girls as young as 7 undergo Female Genital Cutting, a practice meant to curb sexual desire and pleasure. She was followed by young disability rights activist Virali Modi, who narrated her experience of being molested by porters at a railway station since the place was not wheelchair accessible. Women decided to stand up and speak out to create a global community where we are all heard, and so SheDecides without coercion or manipulation.
Isha Joshi’s spoken word about the faces of different women who tell a different story brought a smile to many faces at this amazing gathering of almost a hundred people. Finally, Subarna Ghosh closed the night by speaking about upholding universal human rights even during crisis and at vulnerable moments so that women’s right to decide is never compromised. Young volunteers passionately pitched in resources and talent so that the evening went smoothly and could be captured on camera. Everyone present made new friends, reaffirmed the goal to create a safer, better and more equal world and promised to come together to create a community where no woman is unheard.