It is 108 years since the first time Working Women’s Day was celebrated on the 28th of February, 1909; a day designated by the Socialist Party of America to commemorate the women garment workers’ strike in 1908 protesting working conditions. In 1914, the first International Women’s Day
was celebrated on the 8th of March.
The United Nations adopted 8th of March in December, 1977, as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace, keeping in line with the historical tradition. India itself has a rich history of women who defied social norms and gendered expectations and struck at structures of caste, class, and gender. There was Nangeli, an ezhava (‘lower’caste) woman from central Kerala, who cut off her breasts with a sickle and presented it to the tax collector in 1803 to protest against the inhuman breast tax levied on ‘lower’ caste women for the right to cover their breasts.
Savitribai Phule, with her partner, started a school in 1848 and educated shudra and atishudra women at a time when women and individuals belonging to the ‘lower’ castes were denied an education. Jhalkari Bai, was a dalit warrior who fought against the British during the revolt of 1857, India’s first uprising against the British. These are just a few icons who changed the course of history. There are thousands of nameless women who have played significant roles as change agents, and there continues to be a brigade of women who fight for their rights even as they negotiate society within their own realms of existence. With a growing political climate that calls for a return to the ‘glory’ of days bygone, the fight for women’s rights has become even more relevant and crucial. We cannot afford to forget the struggles of the past, the milestones we have reached, the progress made, and simultaneously keep focus on the wars that are yet to be fought.
In this issue of Interface, we bring to you an opinion piece on the invisible labour of women and a look at the Fearless Girl statue that has been installed on Wall Street this 8th of March, 2017. A special thank you to Indrajit Khambe and Pinak Kalloli for allowing us to use some of their photographs for this issue.
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