Women in Kerala formed 620 kilometre long human chain called Vanitha Mathil or Women’s Wall to push for gender equality. The state-sponsored event saw women from all walks of life holding each other’s hands and standing by the side of the national highways across all 14 districts in Kerala. Photographs of this event, which saw massive participation from women in Kerala, are a humbling reminder of women’s resilience and how they have to take to the streets to remind the society of their existence. Long have women endured bias and oppression based on gender in our country. The current Sabarimala row was the last straw in women’s endurance.

SOME TAKEAWAYS-

  • Vanitha Mathil is significant, because it tells men, who resist empowerment of women, that we won’t get scared easily.
  • Women stood shoulder to shoulder, holding each other’s hands, putting forth that they will no longer endure oppression.
  • All the aggression aimed at women to keep them from entering Sabarimala shows how desperate patriarchy is to maintain its foothold.
  • But women refuse to counter their attitude with more aggression or arrogance.

All the aggression which was being aimed at women to keep them from entering Sabarimala shows how desperate patriarchy is to maintain its foothold

United Stand

2018 was the year when women-centric issues took the center stage in our country. From social media to newsrooms, the topic of gendered violence and oppression was everywhere. But the ground reality was our patriarchal society’s resistance to empowerment of women, that we saw in the form of numerous men standing around the temple of Sabarimala to prevent women from entering it. Despite the Supreme Court’s verdict, the patriarchal southern Indian society left no stones unturned to keep women out of Sabarimala. More than the fact that they were resisting women entering the temple, it was how they were resisting was what was bothersome.

All the aggression which was being aimed at women to keep them from entering Sabarimala shows how desperate patriarchy is to maintain its foothold. It is willing to resort to violence to keep women from challenging its dictates. The battle here isn’t just about Sabarimala. It is not just about blocking women’s entry into a temple. It is more about using force and violence o have your way. Violence has played a big role in repression of women. Women face physical repression whenever they try to voice their opinion or challenge the rules and regulations the society expects them to follow. How do women even put forth the argument of gender equality in a country where their words would incur physical consequences?

But women refuse to counter their attitude with more aggression or arrogance. They have chosen resilience and unity as their weapons in this battle against patriarchal beliefs

But women refuse to counter their attitude with more aggression or arrogance. They have chosen resilience and unity as their weapons in this battle against patriarchal beliefs. To take their stance from the virtual to the real world, women stood shoulder to shoulder, holding each other’s hands, putting forth that they will no longer endure oppression. Women’s Wall is not just about display of unity, but creating a visual impact. To counter physical male resistance that women are facing at the entrance of Sabarimala temple by displaying endurance and strength. To show the section of society which still adheres to patriarchal beliefs that women refuse to bow down. There is no hesitance. Women are out on the street, but they are saying what they stand for peacefully. Because using force to put across your point only makes your argument weaker.

Which is why Vanitha Mathil is significant. It tells men, who resist empowerment of women, that we won’t get scared easily. That we have now put down our foot and refuse to tolerate violence and oppression. Moreover, it tells other Indian women that to fight for gender equality, we need to present a unified stand. We are not alone, nor are we weak. But together we embody feminine resilience which will bounce back and fight every dictate, every threat and every act of violence which is thrown our way.

Photo credit: The Indian Express

Also Read: Two Women Below 50 Yrs Enter Sabarimala; Shrine Shut For Purification

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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