5 Ways You Can Honor Nirbhaya (and work towards a more gender-equal world)
Think about the act of brushing your teeth daily. Nothing revolutionary about it, right? And yet this simple task is fundamental to your long-term health. Similarly, when we make small, but important decisions to contribute to gender justice in our daily lives, we can have a huge impact on our society in the long run. And when we take responsibility individually, together, the possibilities for collective change are hugely magnified.
Here are 5 simple ways we can practice fearlessness and work towards gender equality in our daily life.
Reclaim Public Space
Through small acts of impudence and bravery, we can assert our right to occupy public space without fear. We can remind those around us that our cities and towns, streets, restaurants, buses and trains, belong to all of us. And we can reclaim our right to just be outside, without the excuse of running an errand, meeting someone, or traveling from point A to point B.
We’ve been particularly inspired by Why Loiter?, a group of women who meet every weekend to loiter in a particular part of Bombay. Whether night or day, North or South, they turn ‘hanging out’ into a political act – and show that it can be fun
Speak Your Truth
Do your friends make “that’s what she said” jokes? Do your relatives make in-passing comments about what girls should and shouldn’t do? If you feel your heart tighten, don’t just force a smile or let it pass – say something. It doesn’t have to be confrontational; but if we don’t say something, who will? These small moments of violence are part of the broader societal issue with gender equality. It’s our responsibility to speak up, especially with those we know and love, and let them know that we see things differently.
Notice an unwanted leer? Witness a moment of eve-teasing? Don’t just watch – do something. You can use your body to block a dirty stare. You can use your voice to draw attention to an abusive situation. And you can get other bystanders to do the same. No, don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation. But do what you can, when you can. The passive bystander is the #1 ally of threatening and unfair behavior.
Be Part of the Progress
Find individuals and groups that are doing inspiring work, and get involved! Maybe this means joining the Why Loiter? gang mentioned above. Maybe it means participating in a gender sensitivity training through CARMA, helping to map harassment and safety in different city neighborhoods with Akshara or SafeCity, mentoring for Kranti, or contributing a blog post to Badal Ja! Whatever you can do, do – no action is too small to be a meaningful part of change.
Use your presence to strengthen and create solidarity with a broader community working for a beautiful, gender-just future, both on-line and in person.
Here are two events happening in the next five days in Mumbai:
Zehen’s Reclaim the Night – Saturday, December 13th (tonight!) at Girgaum Chowpatty
Badal Ja’s Tribute to Nirbhaya – Celebrating Progress, Envisioning Change – an artistic, reflective community gathering on Tuesday, December 16th at Dadar Chowpatty
Remember: no act is too small, no words too simple! Do what you can and what feels right – it’s all good work.