By Ashish Srivastava
New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) One striking feature of the farm protests running for over 100 days now, is the mammoth participation of women in it.
Women on frontline of these protest are not perhaps leading but they are walking shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. Their role of being facilitators is undeniably crucial in the agitation which has turned into a movement against the three contentious laws passed by the Centre.
Though at a first glance, their participation may not appear as a distinctive feature of this protest. However, if one considers the socio-economic background of the women agitators, who largely did not go to school, have no formal education, are homemakers and live in a patriarchal set-up, it will reveal how difficult it must have been for them to shed off there homely persona and don the garb of revolutionaries.
“We work on the backstage… for this protest. From cooking meals to cleaning up the area, we do everything,” said 41-year-old Gursharan kaur from Hoshiyarpur, Punjab.
“Apart from that, we also support our men during demonstrations,” she added.
Gursharan lives in village and is present at Singhu border protest site for nearly 90 days. She joined her husband at the site a few days after the agitation started.
Gursharan has two teenage children who are at home. When asked how they have been managing, she said: “Their parents are fighting for their future. The least they can do is look after themselves.”
“We are homemakers. It doesn’t suit a housewife to agitate on streets, but what to do? These farm laws will destroy our future and it is responsibility of every single person to fight for the future, irrespective of gender,” said 35-year-old Baljeet Kaur from Amritsar, Punjab.
She is present at Singhu along with her husband and in-laws for over three months.
“Je aj awaz nai uthai te saada bhavikh (future) nai bachna…agli peedi saanu buzdil/kayar kahegi. (Our future will cease to exist if we don’t raise our voice now, and future generations would call us cowards),” Baljeet added.
For 55-year-old Shanti Dhillon from Mahendragarh, Haryana, it has been 60 days at the protest site. She informed that more than half of the women of her village have joined their families here at Singhu.
“It’s good. The atmosphere is vibrant here,” Dhillon said when asked how does she feel about the place.
“We now treat this border as our home and the people out here as our community. We do the same house chores that we used to do back at our homes. Cleaning, cooking and washing,” she added.
“If the government thinks that it will make us tired then I want to clarify. We will not go back till the black laws are scrapped. We are totally determined and convinced with it,” Dhillon said in a confident tone
“Look at it this way. Our fooding and lodging is supported by the community here. So basically, we are saving our expenses on food and electricity. If the strategy of the government is to prolong the agitation and exhaust our spirits, then they are on wrong track,” she remarked.
Women’s presence on the frontline has ensured a massive impact on those who chose to stay back. “Now remaining women of my village are willing to join us here,” Gursharan said adding that this (protest) is their struggle to ensure sustainable future of farming for the generations to come.
Speaking of struggle when asked how they would deal the scorching summer heat of Delhi if the protest continues, Preetinder from Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Punjab, remarked: “Saanu garmi nai lagdi..kisaana de bache haan…assi tan 50 degree vich vi Bhangra paunde ne! (We are children of farmers, the summer sun don’t affect us. We can even do Bhangra at 50 degrees Celsius)”.
“Do you see even a drop of sweat on our foreheads despite wearing full-length clothes? Now look at yourself,” Dhillon teased this reporter’s pointing towards his sweat-drenched face.