For everyone born by Shirley Erena Murray

For everyone born, a place at the table,
for everyone born, clean water and bread,
a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing,
for everyone born, a star over head.

Refrain:Cross and bowl

And God will delight when we are creators
of justice and joy, compassion and peace;
yes, God will delight when we are creators
of justice, justice, and joy.

For woman and man, a place at the table,
revising the roles, deciding to share,
with wisdom and grace, dividing the power,
for woman and man, a system that’s fair. Refrain

For young and for old, a place at the table,
a voice to be heard, a part in the song,
the hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled,
for young and for old, the right to belong. Refrain

For everyone born, a place at the table,
to live without fear, and simply to be,
to work, to speak out, to witness and worship,
for everyone born, the right to be free.

 Photo courtesy: Daphne Martin-Gnanadason

Rape is not a hot topic

Rape is not a hot topic in India but a cruel reality. The widely spread news about the gang-rape and death of a young medical student in New Delhi in December 2012 has stirred an uproar in urban and rural India. The response from across the country stunned me as this particular incident stood out as a story of courage and struggle when hundreds of dalit women and children are raped and killed everyday in India. However, I am glad that people have come together to address rape culture and the struggle of this young woman has become a symbol of hope and courage. Every revolution has a beginning and this could be one..

Rape is not just happening in India. It happens everywhere and it happens every day. It is not just a sexual act of violence that is physical..it scars souls. I am not sure if this brutal act excites rapists sexually, but I am sure this is an act of power that men use to showcase their weak strength.  The power a man feels while raping a girl on a moving bus must be so thrilling that it overshadows the reality of life and respect. Not just respect for the woman but also his self-respect.

If the society treats women as mere objects of desire, oppression, violence and sexual gratification, this is the lesson we are passing on to the next generation. We need to challenge the patriarchal system which blames women for getting raped and start promoting concepts of positive masculinities. Our society needs to empower men and liberate them from chains of patriarchy and power. To promote mutual respect and positive understanding of sexuality is a social responsibility and this can help put an end to all forms of sexual harassment. There are no easy answers but we can work towards making India a country where women’s rights become human rights and not just a dream. We have lots of good men..we just need more!

Women’s Day 2012

Poster by Aiko Widhidana Sumichan

Poster by Aiko Widhidana Sumichan

Excerpt from liturgy on International Women’s Day 2012 by YWCA

“Crumbs. We have so many in our lives. A Crumb is a fragment of bread. A dispensable small thing that we easily throw to dogs or in the garbage. Have you ever felt like a crumb? Have your people felt like crumbs?…But we are not crumbs. We fight, shout, pray, get educated, hold together in the face of pain and suffering. And we want more than crumbs….”

What is your dream for Women’s Day?

Today is celebrated as International Women’s Day in many countries. Each year, we remember the lives and struggles of women on various walks of life and we celebrate the spirit and strength of women. As much as we may agree that women deserve to be loved and celebrated every day, there is something special about Women’s Day. Research indicates that International Women’s Day has been celebrated since 1900’s as the world was waking up to radical ideologies and discourses. Women have played a crucial and meaningful role in history, politics, literature since the beginning of time yet it took several thousands of years to identify the oppression and inequality of women.

I have admired a lot of women as I grew up and continue to be awed by many. Freedom, strength, beauty, courage, respect, love, dreams, intellect and commitment are the words that strike me when I think of women that inspire me each day.  As I grew up, I was taught to be independent, to think, to make decisions, to be discerning, to enjoy the simplicity of life, to be angry when I witnessed injustice, to be generous, to have fun, to protect myself and to be a person that smiled with the world. My upbringing has played a crucial role in making me a confident and an outspoken woman with a mind of my own. Our childhood and adulthood have been modelled and influenced by many people and experiences. I have big dreams for women to be accepted and treated with respect by society and I know that each one of us has to work very hard to make this happen.

With these hopes and experiences, how do we understand International Women’s Day? Is it just a day of celebration? Is it a day to remind us of our strengths and struggles? Is it a day of hope for women to be treated with dignity and respect? Is it a day for empowerment? What should be the role of Women’s Day in today’s context?

I hope each of you will be able to share your comments so we have a wide spectrum of responses and there will be a space for us to read each other. Women should continue to inspire and be inspired!