Women hold up half the sky. But evidence suggests that more than half the sky is crushing women, particularly poor women.
These days, women struggling to retain their lives and livelihoods against POSCO’s proposed plant, in Jagathsingpur, Orissa, are experiencing this first hand.
They get beaten and threatened, their demands ignored. In Govindpur village, the tension is palpable, as the confrontation has been violent for some time now.
So angry are the women, that on women’s day, they threatened to strip naked as protest, something they fortunately did not have to do.
And late last year, women stood neck deep in water for rehabilitation as their homes were about to be drowned by the Omkareshwar dam in Madhya Pradesh.
When the state pushes women to be willing to use their bodies as weapons, we are in a state of rot. But when the women’s fierce battles are around the environment, and how natural resources must be used and by whom, we are also in the midst of ecological collapse, because women are key to environmental sustainability.
In 2011, India ranked 129 out of 146 countries in the UNDP’s gender inequality index. To change these outrageous numbers, women must have greater access to and control over all kinds of resources, including those related to their livelihoods.
That is something the women fighting POSCO are also asking for. By refusing to engage with a model of development that women want, the government is turning all of us into losers.