'Candles In The Wind' Throws Light on Gender Issues in LSR Event -18th September
MenEngage in collaboration with the Political Science department of Lady Shri Ram (LSR) College, Delhi University, conducted a screening of 'Candles In The Wind' followed by a discussion, at the college auditorium on September 18.
Flocking to the event were more than 200 students from LSR and other colleges. The film's Director Kavita Bahl was present and helped moderate the discussion. Sana Contractor and Dastagir Alam from the Centre for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ) facilitated the reflection on issues presented in the film.
Made in 2013, the film which received a Special Mention at the National Awards, explores the factors that forced farmers into committing suicide, the consequences faced by the women in the aftermath of their husbands demise, and the inefficiency of the state mechanism in addressing the plight of widows.
The discussion revolved around the crumbling agrarian economy, and the gendered impact of this on both men and women. Straight-jacket gender roles isolated both men and women, it was brought out. On the one hand, men bear the burden of providing for the family, and on failing to do so go down a spiral of depression leading to suicide. On the other hand the women, despite being an equal contributor in agricultural work, receive no recognition as a farmer while their husbands are alive. On the husband's death, the wife inherits his debts - that she was often unaware of - and is left to fend for her family single-handed. She is pushed into the ‘man’s role’, but society continues to place restrictions on her through traditions.
She deals with the social stigma of living as a widow, receiving no support from her family or government.
Even demands made by farmer’s collectives sideline the woman's voice, and she has to struggle to place her demand of a pension for farmer widows to the government. Amply evident is the absolute breakdown of social and family support, the rebuilding of which strikes one as critical if such structural oppression is to be resisted.
The discussion also veered around the need for cross-movement solidarity and the need for movements of the oppressed that have been dominated by men to take cognizance of women’s issues.
It was discussed that a gender equal society should be able to reconstruct bonds of companionship, solidarity and better ways of understanding each other, which would enable the fighting of collective battles together and also help in prospering together