Take Back the Day: Seeding the future

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Women crouch outside over a grid drawn with chalk as they place seeds within the squares. The women are wearing colourful saris.

Did you know that Mother’s Day was born from the dream of devoted activist and mother, Anna Jarvis, who founded “Mothers’ Friendship Day” in 1914 as an act of peace and resistance? Inter Pares invites you to take back the day with us as a celebration of mothers as changemakers and contributors to society.

Join us in celebrating mothers like the members of the mothers-in law and daughters-in-law sanghams, supported by Inter Pares counterpart the Deccan Development Society (DDS).

Over the last four decades, sanghams – women’s groups – have offered a space for women to share their concerns and mobilize for change. Every week, the women gather in their villages to address important issues specific to their communities, such as violence against women, childcare, and economic insecurity. One of their key concerns is preserving their traditional agricultural knowledge of local seeds and chemical-free farming.  

As the women of the sanghams age, they face a familiar dilemma: who will continue the work after they are gone?

In India, it is customary for women, once married, to relocate and live with their husband’s family. Many young women find themselves in unfamiliar homes and villages, often with little support or knowledge of the surrounding area.

For the mothers-in-law, their daughters-in-law bring an opportunity to carry knowledge forward. In recent years, they have begun supporting the young women to form their own sanghams, opening spaces of much-needed support and community while providing mentorship in seed saving, diverse cropping systems, soil management and harvesting techniques.

Not only are the daughters-in-law preserving their elders’ knowledge, they are also taking their learnings one step forward. The young women are channelling their youthful ambition and creativity into new initiatives, harnessing the traditional knowledge of their elders to create new opportunities for the future. For example, the daughter-in-laws have piloted microenterprises such as marketing composts and biological pesticides traditionally made in their villages.

This collaboration between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law has been transformative. In many cases, the partnerships have turned a traditionally complex relationship on its head, creating a positive dynamic between these two generations of women.

This Mother’s Day, honour someone for the change they’ve made in your life. Give a gift that supports women passing the torch to the next generation and working together for positive change for their families, communities and societies.

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