“Atyacharala shiksha – koytaca hiska!” “Punishment for atrocities, a strike of the sickle!” With this slogan, some 5000 women attending the 8 March rally at Kasegaon marched through the town waving their traditional farm implements, the koyta, or sickle. The slogan was a sign of their determination to resist atrocities through their own strength, since the police and government machinery could not give them protection.
The rally was marked by speeches, slogans and songs. Jyoti Nikam introduced the event, Indumati Patankar, Gail Omvedt, Bharat Patankar, Prashant Panhalkar, all spoke. Bharat Patankar reminded the women of the history of women’s day, and of the slogan “bread and roses” — bhakri ani gulab – which had arisen out of that history. Madhura Patil was interviewed about “mahila gavki,” or women’s village committees which they had formed. Gail Omvedt talked of the rising atrocities against women, even rapes of children, shameful events: it was no longer possible to rely on the police or state machinery for protection so women must protect themselves – and they must have the self-confidence that they could do so. Their traditional farm tools, the koyta, were useful for this!
Resolutions were passed. An organizational resolution was made to build a strong organization, forming a karyakarni or executive that would meet within a month. Resolutions on deserted women, on equal wages for equal work, on 50% reservation in education and employment were made. Finally, the rally concluded with slogans and women standing tall with sickles in their hands, followed by the march through Kasegaon.