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An IWD Wishlist

This International Women’s Day comes after more than two years of the pandemic, in the shadow of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, six months after we abandoned Afghans to their fate, in the smog of ongoing conflict in Syria, Yemen and possibly, Bosnia, and with millions in camps of the displaced around the world—and this is the catalogue of misery that first comes to mind. Does the IWD observance even have any meaning in 2022?

We make our own meaning. Instead of roses, discounts and a slew of hastily awarded prizes, this is a wishlist that could make it meaningful:

• A South Asian protocol for the protection and rights of refugees and IDPs that is truly gender-sensitive. o We, in civil society, could commit to actually drafting this together. • A South Asian agreement to free movement of essential supplies in an emergency that would show we have learnt something from the pandemic. o An easing of official regulations could be accompanied by a business commitment not to profiteer in times of crisis. • Regional and local protection networks for women human rights defenders, the construction of which would begin with building support for them in the minds of the public.

In those times when the likelihood of a wishlist being realised are dimmest, it is important to write them and imperative to be unfettered by what is feasible. So I add the following: • A transformation of South Asian societies and polities to truly egalitarian and free spaces, where our relationships are respectful and we are free to express ourselves. • Peace, in our individual lives, in our communities, in and between our states.

Swarna Rajagopalan, Ph.D.

Founding member, WRN


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