New Delhi: Lakhs of women from various walks of life participated in the 620 km-long state-sponsored “Women’s wall” campaign on Tuesday to uphold gender equality and renaissance values. The wall started Kasargode in the north to Ayyanakali square near the Governor’s residence in Thiruvananthapuram.
The “Women’s wall” was conceived in the backdrop of frenzied protests witnessed in the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala after the CPI(M)-led LDF government decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict, allowing all women to pray at the Ayyappa shrine.
Giving full support to the event was the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) which had vowed to gather five million women for the event.
Women stood on the side of the National Highway that runs from Kasargode to Thiruvananthapuram and took a pledge at 4 a.m. After standing for 15 minutes, the women dispersed.
Last month, amid the row over the Sabarimala pilgrimage, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan sent out invites to social groups and it was decided to form the “women wall” so that Kerala does not become “a lunatic asylum”.
At the northern end, the first on the line was Health Minister K.K. Shailaja. At the extreme south was CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat.
Later, addressing a public meeting, Karat congratulated the women of Kerala for creating history. “This wall is just not for Kerala but for all the women in the country,” she said.
Added Shailaja, “After a few days of the announcement about this wall, we started to get numerous calls from women asking where they should stand. It has been a huge success in the way women participated.”
Joining the human chain were women from all walks of life including from the film industry, writers and academics.
“This has got nothing to do with the entry of women into Sabarimala. That’s a different issue. We came to take part because we wanted to send out the message of gender equality,” women who took part in Thrissur said.
But the Congress-led opposition condemned the ‘women wall’, saying it will only whip up communal passions.
While the Nair Service Society (NSS), which represents the Hindu Nair community, had announced that they will not take part in the event, the SNDP Yogam – the social movement of the Hindu Ezhava community – took part in good numbers.
“We thank the Kerala government for allowing us to take part in this event as this is a record-breaking event,” said Preethi Natesan, wife of SNDP Yogam General Secretary Vellappallyi Natesan.
The Supreme Court will hear in open court on January 22 a batch of review petitions on the matter.
The top court had on September 28 paved the way for the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple, saying that the ban on entry of menstrual age women amounted to gender discrimination.
The shrine has been under a heavy security blanket since November 17, the day when it was opened for the annual two-month-long pilgrimage season.