This year with the arrival of Sangatee- 22ndAsian Feminist Capacity Building Training Program, OBR Launch Program for 2017 was conducted with more and vibrations which included more than 50 civil society nationals and 10 international feminists. The program was conducted at St.Xavier’s School Hall, Jawalakhel, Lalitpur. The presence of Kamla Bhasin, South Asian Feminist and OBR South Asia Coordinator, esteemed the event vivaciously.
The event awarded two individuals with 2nd Sangatee Grant Award that was initiated on 2016 to honour AbhaBhaiya and Kamla Bhasin. This year, the award was handed to Ms Gyanu Paudyal and Ms Phulpati Devi Banin. Both of them are working for women empowerment and women rights and they committed to spend the awarded amount for the welfare of women rights.
Ms. Gyanu Paudyal has been working for over 30 years as women activists with special focus in far western region of Nepal where gende rbased violence and discrimination rules. Issues like prominent witchcraft, beheading of girl child on the name of religion is very common. She highlighted a caseof 13-year-old girl who had been raped in Rupandehi. She believes men's engagement and awareness in women's right activity can change the patriarchal mindest.
Likewise, Ms Phulpati Devi Banin from Bara district is working on women rights.She believes women status can be changed if she is economically strong and raises her voice. With this initiation, Phulapati organized many livelihood trainings in Bara district.She has successfully used the government women allocation budget of Bara district and made history by utilizing the money only on women empowerment. At present, she is the President of District Rights Forum, Bara and also Member of National Women's Rights Forum through which she is addressing hundreds of voice of women at National Level.Withspecial focus on ending child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and women security in her community, she has been successful to bring awareness to 6000 young women against early marriage.
Thereafter, the celebration continued with Kamala Basin’s speech. She highlighted that although the Constitution of any country state equality, in reality it is way far from the real context where women are still treated as second class citizens. Individual’s mind set has not changed and patriarchal still rules in different forms. In the context of Nepal, it is in the form of Chaupadi (discrimination to women during their periods). She addresses to achieve equality, "we" women need to break the silence to be heard against the injustice and cruel treatments. Highlighting the history of One Billion Rising that was initiated 5 years ago where each individual celebrated it by dancing and rising as survivors.
She said that women should decide to live with dignity, self respect, and freedom not to subordinate in front of any forms of masculinity. Highlighting the example of South Asian practice of husband as God, she argued to deny such culture as one God is enough for us and women now needs only partners who can support each other and not discriminate.
She further added that the opposite of violence is love and not non-violence.We fight violence with love. This year OBR focuses on the property rights of women.History tells us that patriarchy started with private property. This is what we are fighting. Dowry deaths, killing daughter in womb is all related with the ownership of property. Thus, for equality we need to demand for property rights of women. Also, women need to be aware of the fact that with rights, responsibility follows where each woman needs to fulfill their duties of taking care of their parent's equally. Along with sharing the property,it is also important that responsibility is also shared.
She further added that as a feminist, we just want love equalityand freedom.Women want to be safe in street as we are equal citizen as men to use our rights. She ended her speech by Chanting slogans on freedom stating no patriarchy from any gender, race, caste or hierarchy.
The celebration then ended with a dance performance and singing.