Koppal district in Karnataka witnessed a powerful surge of social activism this past December. Visthar spearheaded the 16-day campaign that resonated through the streets and into the hearts of the people. From November 26th to December 11th, Koppal became a hub for voices demanding justice, equality, and violence-free homes and communities. The campaign, aptly titled “16 Days of Activism,” coincided with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Human Rights Day. It served as a potent platform to address prevalent issues like gender-based violence, child rights, and caste discrimination.
Each day of the campaign was a tapestry woven with thought-provoking street plays, awareness rallies, workshops, and interactive sessions. Local artists, activists, and community members came together to raise their voices and inspire action. From highlighting the importance of girl child education to advocating for fair wages for agricultural workers, the campaign touched upon a diverse range of concerns.
One particularly impactful initiative was the “Safe Space” program, which provided a platform for women and children to share their experiences and access vital support services. The program fostered a sense of community and empowered girls and women to break the silence surrounding sensitive issues. A young Kishori, her eyes sparkling with defiance, declared, “We girls are not less in anything. Yet we are not getting opportunities. So, we must boldly come forward and speak.” Her words resonated with a group of fellow Kishoris, each one adding their own stories of struggle and resilience. The formation of their “Kanasu Kishori Sangathan,” a girls’ association in the village, became a symbol of their collective strength and a platform for amplifying their voices.
Another heart-wrenching moment came when a woman shared her childhood experiences. Recalling how girls had to juggle household chores, school, and studies, often succumbing to exhaustion before even starting their homework, she poignantly remarked, “We, the parents, are the ones who discriminate against girls in this way.” Her words served as a stark reminder of the deeply ingrained patriarchal norms that contribute to gender-based violence.
The campaign aimed not just to raise awareness but also to inspire action. Parents and guardians were urged to re-examine their attitudes and break free from discriminatory practices. The message was clear: true equality can only be achieved when girls are given equal opportunities and treated with respect and dignity within their own homes and communities.
The campaign’s success stemmed from its collaborative spirit. Visthar partnered with local NGOs, government agencies, and educational institutions to amplify its reach and impact. This collective effort ensured that the message of activism resonated across all sections of society. Beyond raising awareness, the “16 Days of Activism” campaign laid the groundwork for concrete action. Several initiatives, such as self-defence training workshops for women and skill development programs for marginalised communities, were set in motion to create lasting change.
“The 16 Days of Activism in Koppal have come to an end, but the echoes of the Kishori voices and the calls for change continue to reverberate. Their stories serve as a powerful testament to the transformative power of activism and the unwavering spirit of young girls determined to rewrite their narratives and pave the way for a brighter future”, reiterates Asha, Coordinator of Kanasu Kishori Sanghatana(KKS)a project of Visthar in Koppal.
Mercy Kappen with Asha V.