What an incredible year 2017 proved to be! Granted, the last few years have been slightly crazy – totalitarian forces seem to be threatening to usurp all the goodwill generated in the world. Conservative ideologies seem to be taking a grip, forcing progressive ideas to prepare for the glorious battle they deserve. Despite the demagoguery and the dystopia, however, humanity has prevailed. It has raised its resilient head amongst ruins. That is what sets humans apart, doesn’t it? We emerge improved and indestructible under duress. Merriam-Webster named ‘Feminism’ the most searched term of the year 2017. It truly has been a pivotal year for the movement across the globe. In the face of doubt and flak, Feminism found wonderful momentum this year. This is our ode to the fighting start that 2017 provided, and our beacon call for the Feminism 2018 war that’s ahead of us.
2017: The Victorious Year of Feminism in India
And I am not just referring to the #metoo campaign or the decisive takedown of the Weinstein monster. In many more subtle, everyday ways, feminism won major strides in 2017. In India, the rape conviction of Ram Rahim, although ridiculously protested by his insane followers (Read: Who followed Ram Rahim Singh anyway?), was an important step towards an equitable society. So were the abolition of the Triple Talaq system and the right to have sex with a minor wife. The BHU protests were on point, the Indian Women Cricket team really made a mark for itself, and Dr Soumya Swaminathan’s appointment as the Deputy Director-General of WHO cracked the glass ceiling right through.
India also saw the crowning of the first transgender Beauty Queen, Nitasha Biswas, in 2017 – a landmark event in the acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTQ community in India. Anjali Ameer became the first transgender lead actress in the country. The Kochi Metro made history by employing transgenders to run the operations. Albeit, their start in the jobs they are being offered is rocky, it is a start nonetheless – one that can only be perceived as progress.
Not Rosy, Just Ready
Of course, it’s not apples and peaches. When the base is almost non-existent, a little progress looks like a bulk! That’s what 2017 was – a teaser year at best. Women safety is India’s persistent thorn in the side, LGBTQ rights are essentially non-existent, and marital rape is still legal. Conservative forces are adamant to make feminism look daft or forced, or worse, criminal and oppressive. Thankfully, the heart of feminism in India is in the right place. We are in great momentum and are ready for the other hurdles that patriarchy wants to throw in our direction.
The most important way in which 2018 can pull us forward towards the goal of an equal society is through interconnected conversations. At the close of 2016, we had lauded the voice of the angry woman who refused to shut up. Her voice was amplified through the world as the harassed found strength in the #metoo movement. 2018 is the year to bring it all together and work our way up.
Feminism 2018: Picking Pace
There are clear directions in which Feminism in India is geared to move this year:
1. Sex Education and Understanding of Consent: This is a grassroots level need in the country – a movement that Indian feminists need to pursue with fervour this year. (Read about: The Current State of Sex Education in India). The educators and parents in our country need counselling to impart sex education. Unfortunately, this area needs private funding and interest to ensure progress. Success promises to alleviate India’s struggle with rape, acid-attacks and sexual harassment.
2. Fast-track Justice: Recently, we wrote about the inefficacy of the Indian Judicial System in dishing out justice to the victims of crimes against women and children. (Read: India’s uphill battle against Kindergarten Sexual Abuse). This is one of Feminism movement’s top priorities now. There needs to be an uproar about timely and effective justice system for the aggrieved. We also have miles to go in countering the malice of victim blaming.
3. LGBTQ rights and quality of life: We have lit small fires of inclusion across the country (Read: Lucknow Pride Parade tells the story of an Evolving India), but it is time to push the envelope on this. Indian laws need the push from the feminist movement to give the LGBTQ+ community their constitutional rights. It is time enough!
From the heart-wrenching news stories we hear every day, it might seem as if Feminism in India is fighting a futile battle against a monstrous enemy. But, we are making huge strides and the patriarchy has ants in its pants. This is the time to up the ante.
As my Elsa-obsessed toddler would put it,
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!
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