International Women's Day
Let girls not be puppets

International Women's Day
Let girls not be puppets


Smile Foundation celebrated International Women's Day, with a campaign titled "Main Ek Katputli Hoon" – meaning 'I am just a puppet'. The campaign started with a multi-theme puppet show at Dilli Haat conducted by girls who are community leaders from various underprivileged areas of Delhi. The puppet show titled "Main Ek Katputli Hoon" was aimed at communicating the life of girl child from 'Womb to Tomb' and also disseminating positive message on HIV / AIDS and against eve teasing, and thus commemorating International Women's Day 2009.

Smile Foundation, through this ancient art of storytelling, attempted to portray life of the girl child in our society. The show was performed by community health workers and volunteers under the Swabhiman programme of Smile Foundation. Swabhiman programme stands for self respect and dignity of the girl child and woman across various sections of the society.

Chief Guest on the occasion, Ms. Pamela Philipose, Director, Women's Feature Service, noted journalist and activist said, "Smile Foundation has adopted a very new way of highlighting the declining sex ratio in our country, the concern that is one of the most serious challenges facing India today".

The audience was enthralled as the community health workers performed the puppet show with male counterparts' together standing up for the rights of the girl child and women. Complemented with music and folklores the puppet show supplemented the theme of United Nations International Women's Day 2009, 'Women and men united to end violence against women and girls'. Realising the need of girl child education and promote women empowerment, Swabhiman programme of Smile Foundation enhances the skills and information relevant to make girls and women realise their self esteem.

A woman is expected to care her family from her young age to death; with marriage she plays dual roles, lives prejudiced life, falls prey to man's lust but dedicate herself to family and in-laws. A woman symbolises giving, sacrifice, tolerance and all feminine virtues still facing cradle to grave discrimination."

Speaking at the event, Mr. Naresh Chaudhary, Chief Operating Officer, Smile Foundation, said "Smile Foundation stands by half of the Indian population (women) that still in 21st century is struggling to live with pride and dignity. Through International Women's Day we reiterate our firm belief in women power and strongly feel that we shall strive hard to achieve the status of a developed community unless we respect them at par."

Puppets have been used for teaching everything from stories of medieval kings to HIV/AIDS and in the digital age too such art forms have not lost its relevance as an expression to mobilise the society. Smile Foundation through its Swabhiman programme enables girls and women to realise their inner potential in every sphere-be it home, workplace or community. Swabhiman, is successfully working in 10 urban slums in Delhi and has created a line of leaders to spread the message of women self respect and empowerment.

'Kathputli or Puppet', is what the girl child lands up being as she plays different roles in life. From womb to tomb, the girl child is nothing more than a puppet in the hands of one or the other. The first expression that a child learns is, 'Maa' but as she grows up with self identity, the respect for the gender gets in oblivion. Smile Foundation aims to sensitise privileged citizens to educate, heal, empower and honour the so called 'fairer sex' through a puppet show, as the most beautiful and entertaining expression of art to symbolise the varied facets of women.

Main Ek Katputli Hoon
She lives or dies in womb, is something that society decides.
She gives up education because her family needs to live.
She marries early because her family wants to rid off the burden.
She serves herself the last because her family needs to eat.
She bears child because she is supposed to grow the family tree.
She nurtures family because she is an inspiration for sacrifice.

About Swabhiman:

Swabhiman, meaning self-respect in Hindi, is a programme from Smile Foundation which endeavours to empower adolescent girls and women, with focus on the underprivileged sections, by generating awareness, imparting self defence techniques, inculcating a health seeking behaviour and providing specialized mobile healthcare for girls and women. At present, this programme is covering more than 80,000 population across various communities in Delhi. www.swabhimanindia.net

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