KERALA – In an event unprecedented in India’s history, five million women gathered in a single line along a 385-mile stretch of National Highway 66 on January 1, 2019. The focal point of “the women’s wall” was a response to being prevented from entering the Sabarimala temple even after the supreme court ruled that women may do so.
On a large scale, “This event is a symptom of something bigger. It signals a deep yearning for an India rich in hope, justice, and compassion.”
It is easily the single, largest event in the country where women have demonstrated the confidence and courage to challenge the entire spectrum on inequalities they continue to face.
Faith-based organizations (FBOs) like Gospel for Asia, India Partners, India Evangelical Mission, Mission India, HeartCry, and Gospel Missions of India have faithfully shared the plight of young girls, women, and widows in South Asia’s developing countries. These organizations and others have been providing compassionate outreach to marginalized women.
Many of these women are marginalized from womb to tomb. Daughters are sometimes considered a shame to their families. Some become victims of gendercide as soon as they are born. Many never receive an education. Dalit girls are often forced to work to in the worst of conditions. Some are sold into bonded labor. Others become prey for human traffickers.
Widows become virtual outcasts, regardless of their social class. They are left to fend for themselves, abandoned by family and friends. Women are often thought to be the cause of their husband’s death, regardless of how he died. The wife and her “sin” are to blame. Because of this, she must live the remainder of her life compensating for it.
There is little comfort for the widowed woman who is despised by society and has lost her life companion. Instead of the security and sympathy she needs, she often receives rejection and discrimination. It is not uncommon for grown children to cast their widowed mother aside and even throw her out of their home.
FBOs offer free, donor-sponsored services that give women hope for a brighter future. They offer education for children – like GFA-supported Bridge of Hope centers, literacy classes, health awareness, and personal development and skill-training programs. These programs often mean the difference between women struggling to survive and being able to stand on their own.
Donna Glass of India Partners commented on the women’s wall in Kerala saying,
Until the whole country starts respecting women and holding them as equal, I think that the full potential of India will not be realized unless that happens . . . But first, you have to give women a chance to realize their own potential and then give them the confidence to maybe work with others to help them realize that they could do more.
For more information about the inequality of women in South Asia, we invite you to read the GFA Special Report on Ending Violence Against Women.
To read more news on India on Missions Box, go here.
- NPR, Millions Of Women In India Join Hands To Form A 385-Mile Wall Of Protest
- BBC, Indian women form ‘620km human chain’ for equality
- The Guardian, Indian women just did a remarkable thing – they formed a women’s wall of protest
- Mission Network News, Women in India form wall for equality, here’s how you can help
- François Zeller from Montreal, Canada [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons