International Women's Day was such a wonderful exciting experience.

Our staff under the banner of WEIV (Women's Empowerment in Indian Villages), our new name in India, organised it. They invited their Self Help Group women to come. Group by group 1,000 women came to the high school field.  We marched to the railway station and back.

We chanted 'Long Live Indian Women', sang songs and handed out a history of International Women's Day to onlookers. Graeme and I were inspired by the enthusiasm of the women, their proactive strength as they raised their hands high while chanting.

On our way back to the high school field we did a circuit around the area where the government offices are. The workers came out to watch and smile.

Back at the high school field, Graeme and I cut the red ribbon and the speeches were on.

Suman, one of our female staff members chaired. Madhuri another female staff member spoke of the joy of seeing so many women gathered together for this important day.

Then Sarika spoke. She is now heading our organisation, since Shrawan, who was leading it together with her took another job. She spoke of the amazing work done by the women in the Self Help Groups and how some of them are now on their third loans, with 3 different income streams coming into the household. In her usual strong and powerful way of speaking she told the gathered women about the new Reproductive and Child Health program that we will be delivering to them and their adolescent daughters soon.

A woman who was in an SHG and is now a primary school teacher talked of the difficulties women in the villages face. A man who is a village council president encouraged the women to vote in the upcoming national election and to make up their own mind who to vote for. Graeme spoke about men and women working together and I encouraged the women to empower themselves by asking for help from family and friends and, together with their husbands, teach their sons to respect women and to share the workload of the home. An SHG member sung a song of women's empowerment.

Samosas and sweets for everyone served by our staff members followed. 

There was a wonderful excited energy in the air at the end.
So privileged to be part of it.

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