THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Despite the political rumblings behind the scene, several women activists and celebrities have vowed to take part in the women’s wall campaign to be held on January 1. Prominent among them are actors part of the Women in Cinema Collective and renowned writer M Leelavati. One such notable name is Sangita Iyer, a Canadian filmmaker with her roots in Kerala, who was nominated for the ‘Naari Shakthi Puraskaar’ last year by Union minister Maneka Gandhi.
Sangita shot to fame for her documentary ‘Gods in Shackle’ which depicted the lives of elephants in Kerala. In an interview with the Express she detailed her resolve and reasons to be part of the Women’s Wall campaign.
Q: Is your decision to take part in the Women’s Wall programme voluntary?
I’ve been visiting Kerala frequently for the past four years in connection with the welfare of captive elephants. When I arrived in Kerala in mid-December, I heard about the “Vanitha Mathil” (Women’s Wall). I was inspired to participate and empower women because they hold in their hands and heart the secret to creating a harmonious society.
Q: Are you aware of its political significance?
Everything is politicised around the world. In my view the women’s wall is a terrific opportunity to empower women. I care about gender equality, women and animal rights. There are many parallels in the way women and animals are treated in India, and I am proud to give them my voice. Women empowerment is the need of the hour across the planet. So anything related to women empowerment or animal rights, I’ll always be at the forefront until my last breath.
Q: Opposition parties have called it a ‘communal wall’ blaming it’s being built on caste lines.
I’m not surprised. That’s the nature of politics - finding fault with each other. But I don’t see it that way. This is an opportunity to empower women. I refuse to get entangled in the politics. Kerala’s most revered poet Sugathakumari has reportedly extended her good wishes to the campaign. And that’s good enough for me.
Q: Are there other foreigners participating along with you?
No. In fact, there was a group of foreigners with me in my entourage. But the government is forming the wall for the local women. Since I have Kerala roots, as my ancestral family belongs to Palakkad, I am proud to take part in the event.
Q: Do you think this would bring a change in the lives of women in Kerala?
The Women’s Wall has the potential to create a solidarity movement just as each brick cemented together creates a strong wall. I’ve travelled across India, meeting key stakeholders, being a voice for the endangered elephants. I’ve met intelligent and highly educated women in Kerala, one of the most progressive states on many fronts. And my hope is that this movement will create a ripple effect across the nation, and indeed around the globe.