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International Campaign on Violence against Women (16 DAYS ACTIVISM)

Dalit Sthree Sakthi conducted gender campaign for 16 days from November 25th 2021 to December 10th 2021 in response to the call by UN Women. This is an annual feature and this year also DSS implemented the call by UN Women. Meetings, seminars, conferences, awareness camps, rallies, human chains, group discussions, youth camps in schools and colleges etc were conducted throughout the 16 days on the theme of gender equity and stopping violence on women in villages, mandal headquarters, district centers, slums, schools, colleges. Everywhere, the officials from social welfare department, women and child welfare departments, police officials, intellectuals from varied fields, other mass organisations were involved in the campaign. In all the events the oppression of women, the ongoing violence on women and girls, the patriarchal ideology, various laws and international conventions protecting the rights of women and girl children was analysed and awareness created among the people in general and students and women & girls in particular. The legal and practical measures to be taken for prevention of violence on women was explained in every discussion. Wherever the campaign was conducted the details of glaring instances of violence on women that occurred at those places, the reasons for such violence, the measures taken till then to render justice was discussed with people and officials.

The campaign was inaugurated with the formation of a human chain of women and girls on November 25th 2021 at the Alankar centre of Vijayawada at about 11.00 a.m. The women and girls that gathered there carried flexi, posters highlighting the UN theme and raised slogans against all forms of violence on women. Then the gathering proceeded in a rally to Ambedkar bhavan at Lenin centre, where a public meeting was conducted. The event attracted the attention of the public and was widely covered by the media. State level officials spoke in the meeting enlightening the audience about various aspects of gender equity.

The campaign, thus commenced continued up to 10th December and concluded with a Round Table Conference at Hyderabad, Telangana State. During these 16 days, campaign was conducted in 60 villages of 10 districts, 5 colleges, 25 schools, 8 hostels covering a total population of about 15000. Throughout the campaign for 16days the state coordinators of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh B Bhagya Laxmi and M Hemalatha led and participated in all the events. Details of main events are briefly narrated below:

Krishna District

Campaign was inaugurated on 25-11-2021 with formation of a human chain at the busy Alankar centre of Vijayawada, in which about 70 women collective leaders from across the state participated. Posters, flexis were displayed on the theme of gender equity, violence on women and girls. The gathering raised slogans. Then the women and girls marched in a rally to Ambedkar Bhavan where a meeting was conducted.

The meeting was presided over by Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of Dalit Sthree Sakthi who explained the context of launching this campaign in response to the call of UN Women, which titled

the campaign as “orange the world” to connote positive change towards eradication of all forms of violence on women. Then she narrated how DSS has been conducting these 16 days activism every year to sensitize the society about the unabated violence going on women, particularly, dalit /adivasi women and girl children. She explained that DSS had chosen to focus on the atrocities committed on dalit/Adivasi women and girl children. She stressed the need for gender equity and analysed how gender is a social construct based on religious and patriarchal perspective. She called for the women and men to break free from the psychological shackles of traditional way of thinking. She delved on the need for educating the dalit/Adivasi girl children so that they may grow with confidence, knowledge and skills to settle down as empowered women in future.

Sri. Akunuri Murali, IAS, Retd. was the chief guest of the meeting, while Sri. AV. Patel, Executive

Director of APMSME, Sri. Kiran, Secretary General of SC/ST Employees Union of Electricity Department, Sri. Anjana, Programme Director of Tribal Welfare Department, Jelli Wilson, Ex-MLC and others spoke as guests of honour. Sri. Prakash, Sri. Ramesh and others representing various organizations also participated in the meeting.

After the Conference the team campaigned on gender equality in the slums of Ranigarithota, Tarakarama Nagar, Kanur and Sing Nagar.

On 26th November 2021 constitutional day was celebrated by DHPS at Vijayawada on the theme of proportionate representation of scheduled castes in the higher judiciary. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS participated in this meeting as Guest. Other participants were: Sri. Dasari Srinivasa Rao, IAS, Retd., Jelli Wilson, Ex-MLC, Sri. Gurrappa, Retd. Judge and representatives of various Bar associations and dalit organizations.

On 26th November, afternoon an awareness camp on gender equity was conducted to 500 girls of A.P. Minority Welfare Residential School, at Vidyadharapuram, Vijayawada.

On the same day evening Seminar on gender equality was held for the employees of electricity department, at Ibrahimpatnam. Firstly, Ambedkar statue at Kondapalli was garlanded by the

gathering and then everyone proceeded in a rally to the NTTPS conference hall, the venue of the seminar. Sri. Kalyan Kumar, D.E., Sri. Padma Sujatha, Chief Executive Engineer, Sri. Kiran, General Secretary of SC/ST Electricity Employees Union chaired the Seminar.

Jhansi Geddam explained the gender issues and about various provisions of law regarding sexual harassment at work place and other legal rights of women. About 80 employees seriously debated about the gender concepts.

Youth camps on gender equity were held to educate the college and high school girls and boys in Vijayawada on 29th November as follows:

· Government Junior College at Radha Nagar, Payakapuram where about 600 attended.

· TVSRMC High School, Kandirka where about 500 students attended.

· Juvenile Home at Kabela centre with 30 juveniles.

· VSR Colony High School with 584 students.

West Godavari district

A public meeting was held at Chodimella village, West Godavari district on 27-11-2021. Women Collective leaders, villagers from the nearby hamlets of Kandrika Gudem, Sunkara Gudem etc attended the meeting. About 70 women participated and raised slogans about women equality. They garlanded Ambedkar statue and all the women took out a rally.

Later, an awareness camp on gender equality was conducted at Pina Kadimi village. In this camp about 30 women collective leaders and villagers participated. Sri. Sujatha, MPTC also participated in the meeting.

Another meeting on gender equality was conducted at Vatluru village. About 100 women comprising, Asha workers and anganwadi teachers and villagers participated in the meeting.

In all the meetings the women enthusiastically debated about the gender concepts, oppressive practices of women at home and in the society.

Guntur district

On 28th November 2021 an awareness camp on gender equality and about violence on women was