International Women’s Day (IWD) presents an opportunity to reflect upon what has been achieved and how women’s lives have improved. And while there is much to celebrate, many challenges remain — especially in countries like India.
At most not for profit organisations, there is a risk that the overwhelming proliferation of international days simply means more work for already-overloaded staff. Hence, I couldn’t help but wonder if this year’s theme #BalanceForBetter was someone’s idea of a joke. Can we ever really hope to achieve work/life and gender balance? And what other types of balance could we be striving for?
Last month I had the good fortune to visit the legal not-for-profit organisation Jananeethi in Kerala, India. While there, I couldn’t resist asking two of its female employees what they were planning to do for #IWD2019.
I fully expected to be met with excuses about how understaffed they were and how they can’t run special events for every day that is relevant — and I would’ve completely understood and accepted such a response.
Instead I was told that they would probably hold some events for the local women at their headquarters in Thrissur. They were also waiting to hear back from a local college where they had proposed to run a series of talks. And they were likely to be invited to give ad hoc presentations at other local schools and organisations.
Last year, the focus of their speeches was on the impact of domestic violence on parenting. This year’s talks would address a different topic related to domestic violence — but they had to get through February first, before they could start thinking about commitments in March.
There were no complaints or excuses. Nor was there any hint of self-aggrandisement or martyrdom. They would work out how to get it all done, only.
In addition, they would no doubt juggle their other demanding work duties, and do more than their fair share of running their households and looking after children and other family members.
Such is the lot of working women all over the world — especially in the not for profit sector. And especially in India.
Jananeethi is a wonderful organisation that has supported victims of domestic and gender-based violence and other forms of abuse and injustice for over 25 years. Most of its clients are based in Kerala, but Jananeethi’s reach and influence extends far beyond that.
It offers free legal aid, assisted negotiation and mediation, and psycho-legal counselling to help its clients understand and enforce their rights. It also helps its clients heal deep wounds inflicted by oppression and exploitation, via a process called therapeutic jurisprudence.
Think about that. How many legal firms of any sort include a clinical psychologist as an integral part of their justice team? How’s that for a different type of #BalanceForBetter?
For more information, contact Jananeethi at +91-9447027338, email@example.com, or http://www.jananeethi.org.
#IWD2019 #BalanceForBetter #DomesticViolence #Jananeethi