PAMPORE: Government Degree College Pampore Celebrated International Women’s Day at GDC Pampore in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Tuesday.
On the eve of the International Women’s Day, the college held a 3-day festival from 8th to 10th March on the theme ‘Breaking the Bias’ under the aegis of ‘Azaadi ka Mahaotsav’. The fest was organised by the Women’s Development Cell in collaboration with the School of Languages, Department of Music and Department of Physical Education.
The first day of the festival titled -Tete a Tete involved a series of conversations with eminent Kashmiri women from various fields. Professor Neerja Matoo – noted academic, author and translator of repute was the chief guest on the occasion, Principal GDC Pampore Dr Seema Naz told Kashmir Reader.
The special guests Syed Sleet Shah -Deputy Superintendent Police, Headquarters Srinagar, Azra Mufti-State Resource Coordinator, IIM Jammu, and Sehar Nazir – Legal Researcher at High Court of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh, Acid Attack Survivor and activist were present on the occasion.
Staff members of the college and a large number of students also participated.
The celebrations were kicked off on a festive note by a musical skit by students of the college based on the life and poetry of Habba Khatoon the renowned poet of Kashmir whose verses still resound in the collective memory of Kashmir. Dramatizing her sufferings at the hands of her husband and in-laws, the skit highlighted how Habba transcended these obstacles, and created a poetry of such pathos and grief out of her personal misery. The skit was quite appreciated especially for the acting of the student actors, its contemporary relevance, and the impediments faced by women in pursuing their lives.
In her inaugural address, the Principal GDC Pampore Dr Seema Naz extended a warm welcome to the invitees and hoped that their standing as women of eminence would inspire the students, especially girl students, to give wings to their imagination, and dream of soaring beyond limitations. Prof Seema Naz reserved special welcome to Prof Matoo, her former teacher, and recounted her stellar contributions to the literary community.
In her address, Prof Seema Naz highlighted the need for empowering the women and the need to counter patriarchal biases and misogyny, which has suffered a great injury due to the pandemic. The address highlighted the need for promoting equality and equity at the grassroots level so that a harmonious society can be evolved.
DSP Headquarters Srinagar Syed Sleet Shah spoke to the students and started by focusing on the need to counter and challenge patriarchal stereotypes. She highlighted the micro-strategies that can be adopted by women to create incremental changes in society that would go a long way towards empowering women. She spoke of her own experience in training with seven hundred men as she opted for the non-conventional field of police services which involved a rigorous training regime that tested both mental and physical strength. Only a strong and unwavering belief in herself aided her in completing this punishing regimen, which proves in retrospect that women can break any glass ceilings of biases and stereotypes. She ended her speech by insisting on the maxim ‘The Power is with you’.
Azra Mufti spoke to the students on the need of educating not just women, but also men in understanding the various actors complicit in perpetuating patriarchy. She spoke on the need to cherish and evolve counter-patriarchal solidarity with both genders to challenge the transmission of patriarchy especially through women. By drawing from her personal experience, she highlighted the need to evolve mental strength and the capacity to dream to achieve. One way to do it, she pointed out, was to follow the maxim “Choose your battles wisely”. This will ensure that women don’t exhaust their energies and concentrate upon subverting and transcending misogyny. She concluded by pointing out that “The Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Prof Neerja Matoo, who dwelt upon the talks by previous speakers. She expressed her admiration at the skill and courage of the previous speakers and complimented it. Returning to the skit on Habba Khatoon, she pointed out the fact that Habba Khatoon is still feted today, and the others in her life are minor characters, she exposed the biases of patriarchy. In her unabashed expression, she shattered the expectation of silence, and therefore is a great role model for women. She also drew upon the example of Lala Ded, who presents another paradigm of courage by women. Drawing upon selected vakhs of Lala Ded (her terse couplets), she pointed out how Lala emerges as an example of self-belief, and courage who was aware of her own superiority. Her address insisted on the capacity to think and inquire, rather than blind subservience to empower themselves. She concluded her speech with an exhortation to celebrate and cherish Kashmiri womanhood.
“Today we observed women’s day at GDC Pampore to which many inspirational ladies were invited,” Syed Sleet Shah, Dy SP said.
She told Kashmir Reader that they interacted with them and learnt many things from their personal experience and life stories, struggles and achievements.
“We are a part of patriarchal society and we need to bring a change in the mind set,” she said, adding that they should give their girls such opportunities that they can be empowered educationally, Economically and Socially.
“The change has to begin from home, parents, siblings, teachers and friends should encourage girls’ empowerment,” she said.
The session concluded with a vote of thanks delivered by Prof Alam Ara HoD Sociology and Co-ordinator WDC Cell. She expressed her gratitude to all the speakers, inspiring and enlightening the audience with their inspiring words.