WE GROW FOREST FOUNDATION CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2022
International women’s day falls on March 8 of every year. This year, We Grow Forest Foundation created a forum to call the attention of policymakers and social reformers to address hurdles faced by women both inside and outside the tent. This year’s theme for Women’s day released by United Nations is “Break The Bias- Gender equality for a sustainable tomorrow”. The values of this theme could be broken down into a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, a diverse, equitable, and inclusive world. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.”
Society often focuses only on empowering women by being their voice, forgetting that being heard and listening to what she needs is matters. This thought was the beginning of planning an extravagant two-day event at We Grow Forest Foundation for women’s day. Being women lead and fostered NGO standing up for sustainable development goals, women empowerment and harmony, we assured this year women’s day needs to be celebrated eventfully. That marked the birth of ‘women’s thoughts’ and ‘women in streets’. The informative and eye-opening brainstorming session autopsied the nitty-gritty of the problem faced by women in our society. We Grow Forest Foundation successfully organised both the events on Trivandrum city, initiating the snowball change amongst many women.
Women’s Thoughts — A Pep Talk for HER
The day celebrated the ideas and thoughts conceptualised by women to mark the beginning of a new era of egalitarianism. We intended to nudge the conscience of women to retrospect and raise their voices for improving their social, political and economic status. The event ‘A Pep Talk for HER’ was a confluence of women’s thoughts from varied backgrounds like business, academics, literature or other social sectors. The event was not a power play; it created a level playing field for everyone to begin the race from the same starting point. ‘Women’s Thoughts’ is about embracing a new perspective that will empower, reassuring women shouldn’t be an exception anymore.
Recalling the Day
On March 6, around 10 AM, a group of women flocked the courtyard of Trivandrum hotel. Each of them had a unique story to share and was eager to listen to others. Most programmes begin by lightening a lamp, denoting dispelling darkness around. However, we decided to water a plant depicting growth, greenery and prosperity. Dr Meera Asmi, Chairwoman of We Grow Forest Foundation, addressed the crowd and shared her thoughts on gender equality and the role of women in leadership, thus planting seeds of deliberation in the minds of people listening to her. Further, an ice-breaking session was conducted to ease the speakers into a safe and comfortable zone, helping them hone their thinking hats. The session enabled everyone to ponder past incidents in their lives, including when they felt most vulnerable being a woman to when they broke the glass ceiling instead of fitting into pretty glass shoes. We all paid homage to another woman who positively impacted our lives by taking a moment to express our gratitude.
As we progressed into our next session, we addressed issues that are most often considered taboo — being amidst the empowered women talking about opinions created genuinely empowering opportunities for everyone. As Dr Meera rightly said,
“women are the epitome of wilderness and enchanted, and it is high time that we recognise and respect her for what she is”.
As another speaker pointed out, “There is no limit to what a woman can achieve, especially when she realises the power of her voice”. The discussion spanned from gender inequality at the workplace and home, Financial freedom, Demystifying the concept of consent, Sustainable Menstruation, and challenges women entrepreneurs face to Ecofeminism. Ms Shobha Vishwanathan, Founder of Weavers Village, was a vibrant and enthusiastic soul doing her bit for society. She has uplifted several women from poverty and provided skill development training, empowering them socially and economically. She mentioned that “we should forget who we are by facing challenges and ultimately mend our spirit even if it is broken”. Ms Sithara, a Gender trainer and Professor at Home Science department women’s college, threw light on several personal incidents where she had to stand up and demand a seat at the table. It was truly inspiring and liberating. Ms Ruchi, CEO of Hatchspace, is a leading entrepreneur who shared her thoughts on the importance of teaching everyday household chores to children irrespective of gender. She advocated the necessity of normalising financial freedom for women to make their own decisions.
Dr Jess Sebastian, a research scholar in Orchid Ecology, was vocal about Ecofeminism and the unbreakable bond between nature and womanhood. The crowd patiently listened to her tales from the foothills of the Himalayas and the dense forest of Assam. Ms Rajini, a healthy cake baker, was eloquent when she spoke about sensitising everyone about polymorphism, empty bird nest syndrome, etc. She highlighted the vitality of breaking the stigma around gender roles and characteristics of women in general. Ms Shiny, A bullet rider, destroyed the stereotypes about women travelling solo, especially on a bullet, by living and leading as an example. Her aspirations see no bounds, and she cherishes her personal experiences as her guiding aura.
Ms Aparna, Managing trustee of We Grow Forest Foundation, concluded the event with a vote of thanks. She reminded the urgency of creating a forum for women to cultivate change at the grassroots level. In a nutshell, the event moulded the minds of all participants to take up the cause and deliver positive outcomes by fueling the process with skills, knowledge, opportunities and expertise.
Women in Streets — Stand Up and Walk
07–03–2022 -10 PM to 12 AM
Dispelling the fear and hitting the streets from 10 PM till midnight might sound like a regular act in several parts of the world. However, in our country, women still feel unsafe in the streets due to the rising atrocities committed against them. Women empowerment fosters self-esteem, builds the capacity to make her own decisions, and the right to influence societal change for herself and others.
We Grow forest foundation is organised ‘women in streets’ to ensure women’s safety at all times. We dream of a present and future where women can walk bravely irrespective of the time. Through the massive gathering of women at night, we claim the right of every woman and girl to walk in the public spaces during the night hours. We aim to encourage women and eliminate their fears to walk the roads at night and demand strict action against those endangering women’s safety. The paranoia of walking down the street at night stems from everyday incidents that a woman has to endure, like catcalling, male gaze, objectification of her body, etc.
The walk was flagged off from Napier Museum at 10:30 PM by Ms Aparna. She utilised the occasion to bring the crowd’s attention to topics related to women’s safety. A stretch of 4 km was covered, including the to and fro distance. The walk was productive since it acted as an opportunity for the participants to mingle and network. It was influential in building an ecosystem of like-minded people enthusiastic about the wellbeing of women in general.
The participants burned their inhibitions and fear in going for a night walk along with calories. Irrespective of age, six to sixty-year-olds were spewing with energy and zest. It was a hopeful episode to witness. The interlinkages created by supportive women through ideological bonding has paved the way for forming a synergy between the well-intended and empirical minds to be the change they wish to see in the world.
As we completed the walkathon, we were joined by women starting a bike rally. Their spirits soared through the sky. The event had a radiant sign off when the women indulged in singing and humming popular songs in the middle of the road at midnight. But it felt like a war cry of freedom and liberation. The longing to free themselves from the golden cage of societal norms finally came to life.
1001 inspiring Women’s Stories in India
We Grow Forest Foundation is not limited to celebrating Women’s Day with mentioned programmes. As a women lead organisation, we intend to do more. What can be a better way to communicate than inspiring words?
Yes, We Grow Forest Foundation aims to publish a great collection of 1001 inspiring women’s stories in India — a collection of stories about women who hail from diverse fields, working relentlessly and passionately, making ends meet and fiercely creating history in their world.
The strength of a woman comes from her womanhood. Reading an awe-inspiring story that portrays a strong female character can be life-changing to a girl or woman who reads it. A story is a powerful tool of narration used to inspire and instigate change or form a rallying cry for united action. This idea led us to publish a book on 1001 inspiring women’s stories in India. The book’s stories will discuss how women stood up, spoke out, struggled through, and soared. It will inspire womanhood to seek their dreams and never give up, teach us to appreciate the magical beauty of life and help us find the actual values that are worthwhile — the true tales of women forging change to build a sustainable future.
If you know any unsung sheros around you, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us make the invisible visible!