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‘Kitty parties’ a way to empower village women

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New Delhi: The women of rural areas are redefining the idea of ‘kitty parties’ as a tool for their empowerment in water-starved Nashik district of Maharashtra.

While the concept of ‘kitty parties’ is widely known in urban areas among rich women, these village women are using it as a collective power to reach out places.

In village after village in Nashik, the “kitty parties” are held, ironically, at Hindu temples, which some of these ladies were barred from entering until some years back.

Together the women of Khaprale, Chandrapur and Jamgaon villages of Nashik district have decided to fight the social evils and problems.

The changes were in part initiated by an NGO in collaboration with Hindustan Coco Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd, which has a major plant in the town of Nashik.

The women collectives today are like mini banks, encouraging women to save and lending out cash to those in need.

They have been working for six months bringing the village women together for their own good, said the members of NGO.

Over time, there has been a mini-revolution in many villages. But the effort paid off.

“Now, if we face a problem, it is our responsibility to find a solution. No one can help you all the time. We have started to think on our own and help ourselves and others solve their problems,” said 45 years old Sindhutai Sadfule with the confidence of a woman who has finally found her voice.

These women, members of Self Help Groups (SHG), deposit Rs.100 a month in a common bank account and maintain the details in a register. Money is lent out to villagers in need, not just to women, at a certain rate of interest.

“We have six to seven groups and each has 10-12 women. Once a request for loan comes up, we sit and decide whether or not the money is to be lent to a person,” explained Sunita Prakash, 27.

In case more than one person seeks a loan, “the money is lent keeping the priority and the importance of the work in mind. We give preference to the one who needs it the most”, added 28-year-old Meera Tadpe.

“We arrange everything on our own. We bring food and tea and lemon juice from our homes. At times we buy sweets too, taking out some money from our collective account,” said Vijaya Sabale, explaining the concept of “kitty parties”.

Sabale also expressed her gratefulness towards the village women who financially helped her in her son’s marriage.

“I had borrowed Rs.10,000 from the group and it helped us a lot in meeting the wedding expenditure,” she said. “I returned the loan in 10 months.”(IANS)

(Image Courtesy: washington.edu)

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Triple Talaq Ban in India: Union Cabinet Passes Bill Making the Practice a Criminal Offence

The BMMA celebrates its victory over the much-debated practice of instant divorce

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Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban
Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban, VOA News
  • Supreme court had ruled that the practice of triple talaq as illegal in August 2017.
  • On December 15, the Union Cabinet passed a bill which would make it a criminal offence
  • .The bill recommends a sentence of imprisonment for three years in case of a violation.
  • The bill also makes provisions for “subsistence allowance” for the women divorced through triple talaq.

On December 15, the Union Cabinet of India cleared a draft legislation, which would make the controversial practice of triple talaq a criminal offence in India, a violation of which may result in imprisonment for a period of three years for the husband. The recently approved bill, deemed as the ‘Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’, was framed by a group of ministers including the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and the Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and was headed by the Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

What is triple talaq

The practice of triple talaq, or talaq-e-biddat, is a Islamic ritual through which a man might divorce his wife by uttering the word ‘talaq’, that is, the Arabic word for ‘divorce’, three times. The controversial practice, which dates back to Islamic scriptures of the 8th century AD, was a common one among the Muslim population in India, often enacted through letters, emails, text messages, Skype and Whatsapp.

The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
The practice of triple talaq still continues, in spite of the ban, VOA News

Triple Talaq Ban

On August 22, 2017, the Supreme Court of India had banned the archaic practice of triple talaq, after a long and hard legal battle fought by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), also known as the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement. “Triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Holy Quran and consequently, it violates Shariat … What is held to be bad in the Holy Quran cannot be good in Shariat and, in that sense, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well,” they had declared, making India the 23rd nation to ban the practice of unilateral divorce, after Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Many non-governmental Islamic organizations, along with certain clerics had opposed the verdict, on the grounds that it was an infringement of their right to religion, which is ensured by Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court, however, had decided to uphold Article 14 of the Constitution, which grants every citizen equality before the law. The verdict had met with mixed reactions among the people of India, attracting applause as well as apprehension all over the country.

The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
Women can now demand subsistence allowance for themselves and minor children, VOA News

However, in spite of the Supreme Court verdict, there have been reports of instant divorces performed through the process of oral declaration, as many continued to ignore the various advisories issued by the government.
The new bill approved by the government also makes provisions for Muslim Women to demand “subsistence allowance” for herself and her minor children from her husband, in case she feels victimised by the now illegal practice of triple talaq.

 

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Women influence, irrespective of the field, is good for everyone, says Farhan Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar says that influence of women irrespective of the field is good for everyone

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Influence of women in any filed if good for everyone, says Farhan Akhtar.
Influence of women in any filed if good for everyone, says Farhan Akhtar. IANS

New Delhi, Dec 15, 2017: Actor-filmmaker-singer Farhan Akhtar hopes that actresses backing films as producers is not just a passing trend as he believes that women’s influence, irrespective of the field, is good for everyone.

Over the years, actresses like Dia Mirza, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Chitrangda Singh and Richa Chadha have shown interest in contributing to filmmaking as producers.

Asked what he thought about the trend, Akhtar told IANS here: “That’s how it should be. Not just actresses, there are also a lot of female producers and women who are working in different companies and handling the creative aspect of those companies.”

“It is amazing to see that. The more influence that we have of women in any field, why just films… it can be sports or politics also, it’s good for everyone because they have a different perspective on things because they have experienced life in different ways from what we (men) have; so, it makes a difference,” added the brother of director Zoya Akhtar.

Farhan’s latest co-production, “Fukrey Returns”, registered an opening day collection of Rs 8.10 crore on December 8. Are box office collections more important when he produces a film?

“The reason you do a film is because you want to share it with the world and when a lot of people see your film, the most tangible recognition of it is the box office collection, because you can aggregate a number through it,” he said.

But for him, success of a film also means “conceptually what is done to get people to think about things”.

“There are many films that were released in their time and not considered box office hits, but what that film meant, the kind of story-telling, the work that went into that film have sustained and at times (they are) considered as landmark films and way ahead of their times.

“So, success of a film can be gauged on many fronts; but is box office important? Of course it is, because people are putting money in a film. You don’t want anyone to lose money,” said the co-founder of Excel Entertainment that has produced blockbusters like “Rock On!!” and “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”.

The first look of his next co-production “3 Storeys”, starring Pulkit Samrat, Sharman Joshi, Richa Chadha and Renuka Shahane, was unveiled last week.

So, is a multi-starrer the formula for a hit film?

“I don’t think so. Eventually, a good story should be the formula for success… whether it is about one person in a room or 21 people in a colony like in ‘3 Storeys’. Our emphasis is on trying to tell good stories.

“Arjun Mukerjee, who is the director and writer of this film, has truly put together something that we consider very special. Now we are excited to share it with others,” he said.

Farhan is also passionate about fitness, among other things. The actor, who has fronted ads of vitamins and dietary supplements brand, is now endorsing Apollo Munich Health Insurance.

Is he deliberately focussing on health-related brands?

“It is not deliberate. I do feel good about doing it when it does happen. I don’t go around looking for it, but I guess the lifestyle that I lead, the kind of work that I do, information on my life and focus on health and fitness, encourage people to come and speak to me about it,” said the 43-year-old.

When did he start taking fitness seriously?

“I got serious about it in 2003-2004. I was shooting for ‘Lakshya’ in Ladakh. We were there for five months and I felt incredibly fit by the time I came back from there.

“When I returned to Mumbai, my energy levels were really high… it was a feeling that I didn’t want to lose. That’s when I started training with Sam (Samir Jaura), who is my trainer,” said the “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” actor.

He believes fitness is not about “going to a gym and getting big biceps. It’s much more than that”. (IANS)

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Women’s major role in Shahid Kapoor’s life

Know why Shahid Kpoor says that women have been the strongest and important part of his life

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Women have played a major role in Shahid Kapoor's life
Women have played a major role in Shahid Kapoor's life. IANS
  • Shahid Kapoor talks about how women have played a major role in his life
  • Shahid Kapoor says how the condition of women has evolved in the Bollywood industry

New Delhi, Dec 9: Actor Shahid Kapoor says the strongest people in his life have been women, especially his mother Neelima Azeem who has been a single parent. He also calls his wife Mira and daughter Misha his “whole world” and says he couldn’t have been happier in his life than now.

Shahid spoke to IANS on phone from Mumbai on the sidelines of Reebok FitToFight Awards 2.0, where the brand felicitated women nominees from across the country for their spirit and courage.

“I don’t think there is anything which resonated with me so naturally as this campaign did. The strongest people in my life have been women, starting with my mother. She was a single parent and she was the most powerful and the strongest, and a person I would depend on the most,” said Shahid, who endorses Reebok with Kangana Ranaut.

“Today, Mira and Misha are my whole world and I can’t think of any reason why this initiative would not connect with me. It’s the most natural connect,” said the actor, who also believes women are fitter than men.

“Women know how to deal with situations better than most men do. They are very independent and self-assured,” he said.

So is he going to inculcate these traits in Misha too?

“I want her to discover herself, be respectful towards family and appreciate everything that she has. I want her to spread love and happiness,” he said of his little one, who was born in August 2016.

Coming from an industry where heroines often complain about not getting the equal screen space compared to their male counterparts, Shahid feels the journey of female stars has changed over the years.

“It’s important to recognise roles for their power, for their impact. It doesn’t matter whether it is male or female. I think stories that deserve being told, the characters that deserve being showcased, must be showcased. There is nothing like male or female in art. It’s just about discussing life, connecting with people and saying something substantial.

“I think it’s amazing to see that so much has been created in films which are female-centric and they are loved by audiences. It also goes to show that we have a lot of women in the audience, in case anybody had forgotten,” he said.

And what does he think about pay equality?

“I think it is changing for the positive. I think people are recognising (the issue) and it is all co-related. Today, women-oriented films have started doing extremely well and they have developed a market for themselves. Therefore, the change is naturally happening.

“Like I said before, it’s not about male or female. If you deserve to be paid a certain amount because that is how viable you are, you must be paid that,” Shahid told IANS.

His next film “Padmavati”, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is under the scanner for alleged distortion of historical facts about the fabled Rajput queen. The film was scheduled to release on December 1, but was deferred and uncertainty over its release still looms large.

Tired of commenting on the row, he said: “I have spoken enough and I don’t feel the need to say anything more.”

He also said trolls and backlash are problems emerging from social media.

“It’s very easy to pass a comment when you don’t have to be accountable for it because nobody even knows who you are.” (IANS)