Duration: 00:28:09; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 50.810; Saturation: 0.324; Lightness: 0.572; Volume: 0.196; Words per Minute: 28.190
Gargi Harithakam interviewed for UNITED SCREENS in Kochi on 28.03.2018
"If you could introduce yourself formally"
"for yourself, and the, your practice, please."
My name is Gargi
I am working in an organization called "Penkoottu" based out of Calicut.
Talking about "Penkootu"..
... it is an organization for women working in the unorganized sector from Kozhikode.
with a feminist point of view.
The reason why we.. why I have been working
with that organization, is because..
.. Since 2009, they have been able to present..
...many important questions that capitalism poses before society.
Like, even their first agitation was called "Toilet Strike"
So, the reason why a group of minimum wage labourers..
...decided to come together and hold a protest for toilets
Is because, in today's capitalist system
these workers are seen as wage slaves who can be
taken advantage of in any way they see fit.
So much that they don't understand their need
for access to basic toilet facilities as a necessity.
It is in such a situation that all these women came together.
Looking at it as a feminist, I find this as a very important coming together, of this group of women.
Then..But this coming together was not properly addressed
in academic forums concerned with feminism in Kerala.
Nor was it properly documented.
Which is when I decided to join them as an ally.
After working with them for sometime
what we decided on after sitting together was that
I am more or less interested in documentation
That's what I specialize in as well.
So, a decision was made
to be more involved in this thing we are working on
What I am working on now,
a channel called "Penkoottu Media", a web channel.
That's how we got to the web channel
Today the medium of video is accessible to everyone.
Production of video is not as stressful
as it was in earlier days.
As it stands, this is a privilege completely unavailable
to the women working in the unorganized sector.
So the focus was on how i can use my privilege
to help negotiate this alliance
That's how me and a group of others got involved
in this media collective called "Penkoottu"
Before starting out with this, i was a fiction writer,
I have published a novel of my own.
But I was always more interested in collective practices
than in an individual practice
That too in political practices.
That's why I am working now in "Penkootu Media Collective"
"If you could explain the name for me, please."
"Penkoottu" means ..
The word "Pennu" means "Woman",
and "Koottu" stands for "Friendship".
A sister who is with us, an Academician, Jayadevika,
what she calls it is, "Women for each other".
How she thinks this name means is,
it's "Women for each other", like..
In this society, especially inside patriarchy,
the problems faced by women..
When you look inside nuclear families..
... all women face the same sort of issues
like the mystic and sexual violence.
And even a lot of other kinds
of physiological and psychological violence.
But never have women been able
to share these tales with each other nor..
... have they been able to discuss
these problems of patriarchy
And understand that this is a political issue
and come together..
...in Kerala's situation.
So as an attempt to create such a situation in Kerala..
..."Penkoottu" was formed.
So "Penkoottu" is an intersectional feminist organization.
So, the widespread belief in these parts,
even in Kerala
is that Feminism is simply hatred towards men
Or that it's confined to middle class women
who can still get a square meal..
...who sit and bicker, whilst sitting at home.
That's how people see it
Even on a global scale.
But, when you speak to a woman working in the unorganized sector
You will understand
What they have to go through
because they do not have money or class privileges
The effects of patriarchy they have to suffer are tenfold.
They work, some of them for like seven days a week, 12 hours..
It's unimaginable, labour conditions like that
That too they stand for those 12, maybe 10 hours a day
7 days a week
A human being is not designed for standing that long.
They have a lot of health issues in the workplace
that's happening on one side
The woman who faces all these problems and returns home
That is, even a man earning 5000 Rupees a day
He has power inside his domestic space.
After working so much and facing so much abuse
the woman with him becomes the outlet for his rage.
He will always release that anger
on the women in the house.
Whether it be by getting drunk or by whatever means.
But these women still keep fending for their children
bathe them, clean the pots and pans
wash the clothes, look after the old people in the house..
...and then go to bed. And wake up again.
to go back to making the breakfast, lunch,
and pack it for everybody
In a manner that in the everyone's liking
taking into account everyone's food choices
And then these women go to work.
So when we look at it, be it the question of caste or class
The times when it all merges together
the patriarchy that women have to suffer
It is much greater than what women
living in a higher class or a higher caster have to suffer
It is in these situations that something like this..