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#BreakingTheBias: Women of ASI, Bhopal celebrates International Women’s Day 2022 at Joga Fort

Women officers of Archaeological Survey of India at Joga Fort
Women officers of Archaeological Survey of India at Joga Fort on Women Day 2022

From time and again women have been the flag bearer of #breakingthebiases in terms of stereotypes. The theme of International Women's Day 2022 is about breaking the gender bias, and that’s exactly what Power Women of Archaeological Survey of India, Bhopal Circle did before the official celebration. Proving Ntozake Shange’s saying right “Where there is a woman, there is magic” these seven women of ASI Bhopal Circle went out to celebrate the essence of womanhood in a little different way. No fancy restaurants or movies marathons but exploring one of the toughest sites in terms of approach, Joga Fort at Harda in District of Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.

Why is Joga Fort tough to explore?

Located on a hillock in the middle of the river Narmada Joga Fort is a floating fort on an island-like structure. Narmada is to be crossed with a boat to reach the Joga Fort. It is a beautiful location and a tourist attraction but is mostly visited by the local villagers because it is typically difficult to climb. Surrounded by rocky surface and loose sand it was used as a barracks for house armed forces in the time of its prime glory. It has many special characteristics like inaccessibility to the enemy and strategic location, besides strong exteriors. There are concealed deep wells, with a water drawing facility. While climbing, the dry loose sand poses an obstacle in moving forward. Other than that, during the monsoon, the Narmada becomes violent as the water level rises and it becomes windy. During Monsoon, there have been cases of boats toppling while crossing the river as well. Mr. Raj Bahadur, in charge of Joga fort, said, “once we were crossing the river and it was raining with heavy winds, our boat toppled, fortunately, nothing serious happened as we swam to the fort.”

ASI women officers climbing the Joga fort with enthusiasm
ASI women officers climbing the Joga fort with enthusiasm

But as Michelle Obama said, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” These seven women who were equivalent to ‘Saptamatrikas’, filled with determination climbed the fort with happy faces. Laughing and giggling, helping each other these women proved that 'limitations are mind games, once removed one can even climb Everest'.

One of the women, Shruti Pradhan , met with a small accident just a day before the trip, wounding her knee. But even that couldn't stop her from venturing the unexplored. “Yes, I fell a day before and wounded myself badly, I even thought of not joining the ladies for our women’s Day trip but then I thought we won’t find such an opportunity again so changed my mind and here I am, at Joga Fort all by myself and the ladies,” she said.

Further talking about the so-called limitations, Mrs Sushila Gupta said, “Out of habit, I wore saree with slip-on slippers. I thought it would be difficult as all the other ladies were either in pants or salwar with shoes but nevertheless, I was too determined and energized with all the encouragement of other ladies that I climbed the Fort without any difficulty. Even my husband told me that it would be difficult for me to reach the fort but I did it! ”

They must have been tired, in pain or some unease but the look of satisfaction on their faces told a different story altogether. At the end of the day, they must have retired to their homes back to their families and their routines, some must have had their kids to be taught or dinners to be prepared and they must have done that with utmost sincerity. But today, they achieved something that even they thought they won't be able to do.

A smile that will linger for days after will remind them that irrespective of their age, injury or illness, or whether their family believes in them or not, there is nothing that is non-achievable for them. Today, once again these women in a male-dominated profession have broken a bias towards them. Once again, they feel empowered.

But the question remains, why do we discuss empowerment, gender equality specifically on International Women’s Day? This Women’s Day, ponder on the fact that why do we need to ‘empower’ women for one day in 365 days? While the Bigger question remains is WHY IS THERE EVEN A NEED TO EMPOWER WOMAN WHEN WE CAN JUST GIVE EQUAL LIBERTIES?

Meanwhile, let's see what famous personalities have to say about #breakthebias

Women's Day 2022: Break the bias poster quotes

- When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful - Malala Yousafzai

-If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman. - Margaret Thatcher - Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping-stone to greatness. - Oprah Winfrey - The most courageous act is to think for yourself. Aloud.- Coco Chanel - No woman should be told she can't make decisions about her own body. When women's rights are under attack, we fight back. - Kamala Harris - A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman. - Melinda Gates

- We need to live in a culture that values and respects and looks up to and idolizes women as much as men.- Emma Watson - There's something so special about a woman who dominates in a man's world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness and the nerve to never take no for an answer. - Rihanna - Every woman's success should be an inspiration to another. We're strongest when we cheer each other on. - Serena Williams - “I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles.” - Audrey Hepburn - The most alluring thing a woman can have is confidence.”- Beyoncé Knowles - “Females are the most beautiful, gorgeous creatures in the whole world. And I think that we are gorgeous no matter what size we are.” - Alicia Keys - “Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” - Amelia Earhart - “Strong women don’t have ‘attitudes’, we have standards.” - Marilyn Monroe

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