Issued by Nirbhoy Gram Campaign Secretariat
March 7, 2014
VOTE NAO SURAKKHA DAO
The International Women’s Day is celebrated across the world on March 8. Observed annually, International Women’s Day has been marked by the United Nations since 1975. International Women’s Day highlights the importance of achieving equality for women and girls not because it is a matter of fairness and fundamental human rights, but because progress in so many other areas depends on it. This day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, 8th March 2014, towards fulfilment of the objectives of the Nirbhoy Gram Campaign, its Founder Nirbhoy Didi Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury will launch a pre Lok Sabha Women’s Safety Awareness Campaign in Malda called, “Vote Nao Surakkha Dao, to voice concerns of village women to all political parties to ensure women’s safety and security remain a barter proposition to attain votes from women in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Nirbhoy Didi is a women’s rights campaigner and chairs national and international forums and institutions of women. Previously, she was chairperson of the Special Task Force of the Government of India in charge of prevention of rape, trafficking and violence against women. As part of this campaign, a sample survey is being conducted since 1st March 2014 in 7 Lok Sabha Constituencies in West Bengal, namely, Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur, Uttar Malda, Dakshin Malda, Jangipur, Barasat and Birbhum on the role, contribution and attitude of the sitting MPs towards women’s safety in their respective areas. The report of the survey is expected to come by the end of the month.
The women of our country, especially, rural women, till date present a gloomy picture of ignorance and despair with poor say in polity and governance of the country. Malda presents a bleak picture with scanty police personnel, weak police and safety infrastructure, proliferation of heinous crimes against women and children as well as border related vulnerabilities. The district is known for dain pratha and child marriage, apart from other issues concerning absence of toilets and pucca houses in the villages which lead to rape and assault.
All the governments, over 66 years of independence, failed to control crime against women. One of the most glaring examples of neglect of women is the failure to raise the status of the Central Ministry of Women and Child Development to a cabinet rank. The ministry, in face of petite command, has hardly any power of negotiation in the cabinet meetings, which decide flagship policies and programs. Another such example of neglect is the case of allotment of funds to the National Mission for Empowerment of Women. This mission is just a paper tiger and could not be implemented in mission mode due to low priority accorded to it by the Planning Commission of India and the Ministry of Finance. The much touted Nirbhaya Fund of Rs. 1000, announced by the central government post the “Nirbhaya” incident, in 2013 is not more than a mockery of the system. It remained a mystery with no actual implementation of the fund for safety of women. To add to the mystery further, once again, the central government announced Rs. 1000 Crore Nirbhaya Fund during budget of 2014 which remains no more than a poll gimmick. Moreover, the bill for 33% reservation for women still stays on the table and waits to get approved. A Special Task Force on Rape, Trafficking and Violence against Women, was constituted but had no teeth, hence Nirbhoy Didi had to resign. There is a total disregard towards women and young girls concerning safety in daily lives, justice, equity and equal opportunities enshrined by the constitution of India.
The “Vote Nao Surakkha Dao” is an apolitical awareness initiative to give voice to the rural women to stand for their rights and compel the political parties to incorporate women’s safety and 50% reservation as the first point in their election manifesto.
On the International Women’s Day, Nirbhoy didi will kick start the Campaign at three rural schools, namely, Haripur High School, Ekbarna Gadhadhar Vidyapeeth and Naugharia High School, in Malda district of West Bengal towards ensuring safety of young school girls. She will address young girls and boys and encourage them to be absolutely Nirbhoy (fearless). It is expected 5000 students from three schools will enrol themselves as Nirbhoy volunteers. These three schools shall be adopted as Nirbhoy Schools and continuous gender sensitization programs shall be launched throughout the year till the commencement of the next International Women’s Day in 2015. On this occasion, Nirbhoy didi will hand over 50 Nirbhaya medals to brave girls with leadership qualities. In addition, Nirbhoy didi will donate Rs. 1, 00, 000 to Naugharia High School for student safety education programs.
The Nirbhoy Gram is a social movement constantly striving to empower villagers, especially women, towards their safety and security. Nirbhoy Gram means a fearless village. The initiative has been envisioned as a people’s movement for safety, security and justice at the grassroot. The campaign aims to remove fear from the minds of villagers, teach villagers to stand against crime and corruption, educate them to fight economic insolvency, motivate them to voice out their demands for safety and security and elect fearless and truthful leaders as their representatives in polity for social, economic and infrastructural transformation of the villages.
The insidious and brutal incident of rape of “Nirbhaya” on December 16, 2012 in New Delhi highlights the most atrocious forms of violence in our society. A young girl came to study in a metropolitan city. She was brutally raped and murdered. The incident marked a powerful reaction of the Indian youth against police, government and the civil administration. Nirbhaya became a national emergency. Following this cruel incident, Nirbhaya emerged as a symbol of fearless existence. Her spirit is undying, insurmountable and she emerged as a symbolic national character.
The symbolic character Nirbhaya has inspired activist Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury to engineer Nirbhoy Gram (Fearless Village) campaign. The core idea is to motivate and empower villagers towards eradication of poverty, fear, illiteracy and social maladies from their lives. The Nirbhoy Gram is seeking to achieve rural people’s absolute trust in police, government and the Panchayat system (Local Self Government). The initiative is complementing women’s welfare measures and seeking to redress women’s grievances for toilets, pucca housing and social security. The founder of Nirbhoy Gram, Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, is fondly addressed as Nirbhoy Didi by the local villagers.
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