Why International Women’s Day has a special significance this year

The outrage over the dastardly Delhi gang-rape has subsided, but at the end of it, women seem to be paying a price for the lack of security it exposed. People don’t trust ham-handed police investigations, more importantly we don’t really trust the justice system to deliver. What lies ahead? Lets hear Justice Sujata Manohar on “The case for delivering better Justice to Women: A view from the Judge's Chair” on this International Women’s Day (supported by DSP BlackRock's Winvestor Initiative)

In December last year, it seemed as if all of India had risen in protest against the horrendous gang-rape of a Delhi student who later succumbed to her injuries. Students, teachers, parents and, it would seem, every male member of their family stood with the women protesters, braving the cold as well as the abuse, the lathi charge and the water cannons unleashed by the police at us, the people of India.


And yet, when the protests have died down, it seems as if life has become tougher for women. As teenagers, we enjoyed enormous freedom at home—so long as we were willing to deal with the curse of constant eve teasing. Today’s teens are not so lucky. We seem to have regressed!


Women half my age, watch their daughters even when they are 100 meters away from home. Some need them to text their parents every hour. Women’s hostels have tightened curfew timings and parents watch the clock until their daughters are safely home. The State, which cannot offer protection to women, finds unique ways to evade responsibility. Women should stay at home after 6 pm. Women should dress more conservatively. Women should wear overcoats—like a burqua. Why are they “painted and dented”? It is almost as though 25 years of hard-won freedom is vanishing before our eyes!


The new motto for mothers is—avoid trouble—even if it means locking your daughters up. Why? Probably because people don’t trust ham-handed police investigations, and want to protect victims of abuse from more humiliation that could scar them for life.


More importantly, we don’t really trust the justice system to deliver. Given the national mood, the subject for Moneylife Foundation’s 4th International Women’s Day event (supported by DSP BlackRock's Winvestor Initiative) chose itself. We are fortunate to have someone of the eminence of Justice Sujata Manohar to speak on “The case for delivering better Justice to Women: A view from the Judge's Chair”.


Justice Sujata Manohar has broken many glass ceilings. The first lady judge of the Bombay High Court, and the first lady Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and the Kerala High Court and a Supreme Court judge from 1994-99.


In her early years as a young lawyer, Sujata Manohar used to take up family law cases under legal aid and also worked pro bono for several NGOs. Since the year 2000, she has been a member of the National Human Rights Commission; her focal point of work was on trafficking, women’s issues and AIDS. She is also the chairperson of the Committee on Feminism and International Law of the International Law Association.


It is absolutely fitting that the keynote address on 8th March will be delivered by Justice Manohar!


And even more so that the two women activists that we will felicitate this year have done pathbreaking work on women’s rights. They are: Jyoti Mhapsekar of Stree Mukti Sanghatna and Meenu Seshu of Sangram. But more about them later!


Please register to join us on 8th March at the Yacht Club, Mumbai, for this session!

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