تیرے ماتھے پہ یہ آنچل بہت ہی خوب ہے لیکن
تو اس آنچل سے اک پرچم بنا لیتی تو اچھا تھا
तेरे माथे पे ये आंचल बहुत ही खूब है
लेकिन तू इस आँचल से इक परचम बना लेती तो अच्छा था
“It is very well to veil yourself,
But had you made your veil into a flag
It would have served you better…”
. These lines from Urdu poet Majaaz Lakhnavi’s ‘Naujawaaan Khatoon Se’ (To the Modern Woman) are a perennial source of strength to those who seek it. Among the many his words have inspired are the founders of ‘Parcham’ (banner/flag), a Mumbai-based NGO named after the symbol of freedom that Majaaz so eloquently speaks of. One of their amazing achievements in the past few years has been to arrange for football training for girls at the municipal schools in Mumbra. From struggling against the mindset of parents to finding a football field for the girls, the team has braved numerous hurdles to help girls from marginalised backgrounds claim their rightful share of public space. Watch this short film ‘Under the open Sky’ by Tata Institute of Social Sciences to know more:
However, the football training is just a part of Parcham’s mission to “work towards a just and equal society that is respectful of diversity…”. They are “geared towards empowering marginalised communities to access their fundamental rights, create spaces of dialogue…and work with civil society towards justice and equity.”
You can get in touch with Parcham at
It was an honour to illustrate the annual Parcham Notebook for 2017. This year, the Notebook celebrates the courage of women who have challenged the unfairness of patriarchal laws and religious customs, often at great personal and social risk.
‘Hindu Orthodox Code’
Married at the age of 11, Rukmabai was taken to court by her husband in 1884 for refusing to live with him. Finally, she had to pay her husband to dissolve the marriage. The following year, the British Government raised the age of consent for marriage from 10 years to 12 years old. However, there was still no measure taken against marital rape. Rukmabai went on to become India’s first practicing woman doctor.
‘Muslim Personal Law’
A 62-year old mother of five, Shah Bano was divorced by her husband in 1978. The Supremem Court granted her right to alimony, causing an uproar among conservative Muslim factions. However, the court upheld Muslim women’s right to maintenance.
‘Travancore Successions Act of 1916’
In 1986, Mary Roy succeeded in changing the law that denied Syrian Christian women a share of their familial property. Now, the property can be inherited without gender-discrimination instead of all the property being inherited by the son with only a small portion ‘gifted’ to the daughter as ‘Streedhanam’.
Right to Remain Parsi
In 2009, Gulrookh Gupta challenged the diktat of the Valsad Parsi Anjuman Trust which prevented Parsi women married to non-Parsis from attending Parsi releigious functions, including the funeral rites of their own parents and entering the Parsi Agiary, or house of worship. Since there is no such rule for men, Gupta challenged the decision as discriminatory. The case is still ongoing.
Proceeds from the notebook will go towards developing the football programme for girls. A football tournaments was held and sports gear was bought for the underprivileged girls with the help of funds from last years notebook.