Richa Tyagi is a youthful activist championing diverse causes of women, She along with her friends is the architect of concept “OwntheNight” the idea that came to them from the need that women need to claim their right to public spaces at night and own it.
In an exclusive interview with the News Kashmir Richa Tyagi talks to Rameez Makhdoomi.
How did the idea of own the night came up?
We are a group of students pursuing masters/bachelors in Eng literature/Sociology. We are all from Delhi and met at Breakthrough’s 2016 summer internship.
During the internship we were given sessions on campaign designing and we were required to choose a particular profile we were interested in for field work. We decided on the profile of a 34 year old single woman living in Delhi. And this particular need to talk about the safety of women who travel alone for different purposes at night came up. We were also interested in doing this campaign because we too face similar problems and the fact that despite all attempts from the government, and despite all those protests, the situation in Delhi has aggravated. The name OwntheNight came from the need that women need to claim their right to public spaces at night and own it. Also this hashtag is used by a vodka company making it an interesting subversion.
Why are the roads of India so unsafe for women?
The roads are unsafe for women because we as a society have assigned gender roles, a woman in the household and man the bread-earner. This is a carefully constructed power structure controlled by men both in private and public spheres. Women only fit in here as wives and mothers subjugated to societal demands. We don’t like the idea that women have created space for themselves within these limitations and therefore, we make sure to somehow scare them off the streets.
Is it true that Feminism is not showing desired results as a campaign as it is elitists centric?
Our campaign does not talk about feminism; we don’t aim to make it exclusivity for the elite who identify themselves as feminist. But we do want to target patriarchy and this makes us feminists, there are people who don’t want the feminist tag but they champion the cause for basic rights and equality and freedom for every person irrespective of their gender, sex or sexual orientation. Feminism is definitely taking the world by the storm these days but there are different brands of feminism out there. If you are against violence against women you are a feminist :/
What are future plans of your own the night campaign ?
We have a lot of online/offline activities lined up for future. We aim to initiate a dialogue on safety of all women irrespective of their age, social/economic/religious background. We also intend to bring up the issue of safety of women with disability, trans women, sex workers. We are also working on different posts where we will talk about how we need to tackle this problem and engage people in conversations on the road ahead.
Your role model?
Well my role models are not just people who are held in great esteem by everyone, but the people around me like that woman who stood up against domestic violence left her home and found the courage to look after herself and her four children despite limited means and absolutely no idea how to deal with the problems that she encountered. But if i have to choose one I will pick Malala Yousofzai and her words never fade out of my memory “We cannot succeed when half of us are held back”.
Don’t you believe by every passing moments the situation for women is getting tough in India?
The situation for women in terms of violence against women is getting worse but if we talk in general, women have definitely managed to create space despite limitations and become a force to be reckoned with through their own intelligence, acumen and endeavour. We as a society need to start standing up against the male objectification and entrapment of women and stand in solidarity against the stranglehold of men on discourse of economy, gender, sexuality and desire.
Any campaign you aim that can senestivize men towards women issues ?
Our campaign aims to sensitize men on women issues and we are going to post messages and articles from men’s perspective on this issue and also engage them in dialogues on various issues in future.