Home CAA Meet 10 women who are spearheading movement against CAA-NRC in India

Meet 10 women who are spearheading movement against CAA-NRC in India

Nazish Hussain and Musheera Ashraf, Twocircles.net

In the wake of countrywide protests against CAA-NRC-NPR, India is witnessing a watershed massive movement led by women. From organizing to mobilizing to leading – women are at the forefront, often gaining stronghold over their male counterparts. Never in history we have seen such a political scenario where women leaders are emerging from every nook and corner, every village and metro city of the country.

To mark this International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, we have featured 10 women across India who have not only contributed to the changed definition of women empowerment but have also changed the way an Indian Woman is perceived across the globe. Through our feature, we honor and celebrate the courage of some of these inspiring women – those who have led the anti-CAA-NRC movement across India without any fear from state machinery. 

Sadiya Shaikh, Mumbai 

Sadiya, has visited several states to address anti-CAA-NRC rallies. She is a student of B.A at Rizvi college, Mumbai. Working to create awareness about NRC-CAA, she has shared the stage with the country’s foremost youth leaders –  Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and many other activists. Recently, Umar Khalid posted that “Sadiya is only 17 years old, but one of the best speakers I have come across during the Anti CAA-NRC movement”.

Disturbed by the Jamia incident, she became a part of these protests to challenge the brutality of state sponspored violence on the students of Jamia in Delhi. “I thought if we choose to be silent now then distorting the constitution and atrocities on students will become a norm,”says Sadiya.

She feels proud discussing that she had studied democracy as a subject but now, she says, “I am practically trying to exercise what I was studying till now”. She had always dreamt to be a part of Young India Challenge, this year she got selected but gave up just to be a part of these protests. This movement has brought a change in her, she reads more about history now and she feels more confident. She is just 17 years old so her father accompanies her on travels to another city or state to address protest gatherings.

Ayesha Renna, Kerala

Ayesha is a 22 years old student from Jamia Millia Islamia. Coming from a small town Kondotty, in Malappuram district of Kerala, she became the poster girl after her photo went viral a day after the 15th December police brutality on Jamia students. In the photo with two other women students and a student journalist, Ayesha can be seen warning the policeman against their brutal behaviour. Ayesha became the icon of Women in Hijab breaking the stereotypes and struggling for her rights. 

Ayesha is associated with a Kerala-based NGO called ‘Yes India’ since 2016 which works for “educational development of students belonging from marginalised sections”. She started her protest for CAA-NRC on the very next day when the bill was passed in Parliament. She was the part of the JMI girls march to the parliament. Being a history student herself, she feels, “For me, history is not linear and it’s not only about recorded events.” She says that history is something which gives hope and energy in the age of political depression which is very similar to Nazi Germany.

Being a woman born and brought up in Kerala, specifically in a Muslim populated district, Ayesha is breaking the stereotypical image framed by the popular culture where a Woman in Hijab is hailed as “oppressed.” She says “My identity was always a subject of liberal saviours, the immediate possibility of a hijabi is limited into the immediate binaries of oppressed.”

Khalida Parveen, Hyderabad 

Khalida Parveen, a 64-year-old social activist from Hyderabad, was detained by the police while protesting. That did not dampen her spirits and since then, Parveen has been actively engaged in educating women about the impact of NRC and CAA by guiding them how to maintain peaceful protests.

“Muslim women have always been targeted for being inside their houses and not standing up for their right, this movement has shown that when necessary they can do every possible thing to safeguard their rights,” says Parveen, who also runs an NGO with the aim to empower the nation by empowering its women.

She has been arrested by the police during protests and has boldly faced it, advocating the weeding out fear psychology of police in society. She is currently working on the ground by reaching out to women in rural areas and slums to educate and aware them about CAA-NRC. Parveen sights every woman as a leader in these protests. “Our responsibility is to keep fighting against these unjust laws, I am not afraid even if I die struggling for the rights of our citizenship” adds Parveen. Her active participation in mobilizing women and appealing them to come out of their houses to protest has inspired many women, who see her as their role model.

Aman Mohammadi, Saharanpur 

Aman Mohammadi, 27-years-old artist from Saharanpur, is pursuing her PhD in Theatre and Performance from JNU. She is a performer who does theatre mainly on socio-political issues. Moving around in the protests she noticed that, women are leading the protests but when it comes to performance, mostly male were seen. To counter this, she became a part of the newly formed ‘Zanana Ensemble: Zanana ka Zamana.’

Anyone who identifies herself as a woman performer was open to join the group. The group has composed some very creative and engaging slogans, one of which is

                              “aya zanana ka zamana, hai zanana ka zamana,
                           khub pakaya ghar mai khana, inquilab ko hai pakana

The group did a musical protest Hawaon mein, yaaron jawaab milega, Fizaon mein, jawaab milega, which went viral on social media and was later covered by The Quint. They performed at several protest sites including Shaheen Bagh,Shahi Eidgah, Azad market, Inderlok and many more.

Aman has been very active and vocal on social media about the empowerment and rights of women. “This movement has brought up a beautiful form of resistance which is helping women to reclaim the space which was already taken by men, through this protest they are reclaiming these spaces” says Aman Mohammadi. Aman was deeply moved by the spirit of resistance among the ladies of mohalla who have come together to establish Shaheen Baghs at different places throughout the nation. She opines that despite the patriarchal set up of our society this movement has been able to break many barriers, the women have come out and led these protests which will always be remembered.

Shiba Minai, Hyderabad

Shiba, originally a 33-years-old journalist from Hyderabad, has now become an activist and protester. She is known for kick-starting the momentum of Hyderabad protests and also called as the Lady Flash protester of Hyderabad. 

Shiba calls herself an Urban Freedom Fighter who is fighting for the rights of the citizens of India and humanity.“Women have always been the backbone and very integral part of this society but were not acknowledged by the people because they were busy thinking that Muslim women are not capable,” says Shiba. She thinks this movement has given a beautiful realization to people with traditional mind-sets about women belonging to the household.   

Shiba is the mother of a 3-year-old but she manages to be an active part of these protests, just like hundreds of other women who balance their daily routine with protest schedules across the city. According to her, now “the protests are as important as having daily meals because there is nothing more patriotic than disagreeing with what is wrong and the voice of dissent is necessary.” She says that by bringing the CAA into force, we have wasted our democracy and now women must fight to save India one more time by setting an example for women throughout the world. Shiba was also detained by the police amid the protests but this didn’t stop her from voicing her dissent. She is very determined that these protests will surely bring victory and people like her will continue to resist even if it takes years.

Swati Narayan, Mumbai

Swati, originally from Mumbai, is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Human Development, Ranchi. She is a distinguished activist having previously worked on social issues like Right to Food, Right to Education and Social Justice for more than a decade now. She has been actively working at grassroots level, working closely with different groups and organizations to mobilize and aware people. Swati says to have Muslim women and students at the forefront have been a completely new phenomenon. 

“Through this movement they are countering fascism and patriarchy in the liberal establishment as well as right wing establishment,” she says. She believes anti-CAA movement is a strong inflection point which will empower Muslim women beyond today. She hopes that this sisterhood which has emerged out of organic and pure movement should grow stronger and stronger.

Rehna Sultana, Assam

Rehna is a research scholar from Guwahati University, Assam. She is an academician turned full-time activist owing to the social circumstances at her place. Some people from her village started getting the notice for D-voter and would come to Rehna’s family to help them understand about it. It was around that time she started enquiring about citizenship issues in Assam. Soon, she started helping people with the NRC process. In her village, people used to charge 1000 rupees per head for filling the form for NRC, which didn’t even ensure that the form would be filled correctly. So, she started filling up forms for people free of cost. In the wake of CAA, she is now currently working to help people across Assam through awareness drives. Through her reach-out programmes, she is countering misconception and misinformation about citizenship laws. She informs people about the know-hows of producing documents and dealing with government authorities.
Rehna hails from Bengal origin Muslim community in Assam and  has been working for the upliftment of women by raising awareness against child marriage, domestic violence and education. Rehna says women and children have been worst affected as they are unable to produce the needed documents.
“Birth certificate and matric certificate are two important documents to prove citizenship. Most of the women get married early and can not complete their formal education to obtain even the class 10 certificate,” she says.
Rehna, who has been working tirelessly on the ground for women empowerment, believes education should be  the top most priority for women.

Dr.Shagufta Yasmeen, Ranchi 

She is an activist who runs a women empowerment group and recently have been very active in NRC-CAA protests. Jamia incident instigated her to join the anti CAA protest. She gradually started learning about the Act and then started the awareness program to inform people about it.

There were many misconceptions about CAA-NRC among the people. Some students and a ladies group came together to initiate the awareness drive. This movement has empowered the women in many dimensions, this has made them more confident. Shaguftais very confident in saying that “Our protest is a peaceful protest; it might take time but definitely it will be fruitful”

After her awareness sessions, people from all communities are coming and joining the protests. She considers women as more responsible and powerful which is the reason behind the success of these Anti CAA-NRC protests. It is the patience of women which has led to the strengthening of this movement and that is why everyday more people are joining the protest. 

Jacinta Kerketta, Ranchi 

Jacinta Kerketta from Ranchi is best known for her poetry which touches various social issues of Adivasi and Dalits. She is also a journalist and social activist. Working on the education of girls she has been travelling across the world, delivering her poetry on varied subjects including independent writing and environmental issues at the International level. Through her poetry she has also registered a protest against CAA-NRC at various public talks. Adivasis in this country have been struggling for dignified life which is yet to be actualized. Jacinta says CAA-NRC is not just Anti-Muslim rather it is also against Adivasis, Dalits and Women.For women to get empowered they need to pave their own way, aligning their own development with that of society. Only then we as society will get emancipation.

Ladeeda Farzana ,Kerela

Ladeeda, a 22 years old student of JamiaMilliaIslamia who hails from Mallapuram District of Kerela emerged as a face of resistance from the Anti CAA-NRC protests. She was seen as the one amongst the four girls protecting a male student from the police lathi-charge. Later, she has been to different states to convince people regarding CAA-NRC protests.

Ladeeda became an icon of resistance and have been very active through the movement. She has been to many universities and protest sites to encourage people to participate in the protests. She was brutally trolled but she didn’t give up. She is a role model for many of the student protestors. “The fight for justice is incomplete, unless we have solidarity from people of all faiths, ideologies and communities,” says Ladeeda.