Mahila Shanti Sena
(Women’s Peace Brigade)
“A continuation of Gandhi’s unfinished experiment with truth”
The Vaishali Sabha gave us hope that Indian women have the capacity of emerging as a positive social force for creating a new culture. This force has never been used before. If a new and violence- free civilization has to be created, what is needed is a new and positive force. With this end in view, an effort is being made to organize woman’s creative power. Mahila Shanti Sena is its instrument.
People ask ‘What is Vaishali’? What has it do with Mahila Shanti sena? The first thing is that Vaishali is the birth-place of a republican democracy. Secondly, Buddha chose Vaishali to found his largest Sangh with a membership of thirteen thousand bhikhus to his sangh. Buddha refined and perfected the art of democratic functioning. His principle was; meet, talk and agree. The present day ruins bear witness to the glory that Vaishali once was.
About forty years before Buddha, Mahavir was born in a
nearby village. Vaishali, a large and powerful republic, was also a
confederation of 8 republics. There was no
It was merely a chance that Dr.
Rama Shankar Singh, who belonged to the Peace Centre of McMaster University of
Canada, happened to be in
With the financial help extended by
Mahila Shanti Sena Takes Root in
The message of Mahila Shanti Sena has reached eleven out
of thirty- eight districts in
Sena Spreads Outside
Kumarikata of the district of Nalwadi in
Beyond the seas, in far off
Peace Efforts by Mahila
Shanti Sena in
The Mahila Shanti Sena in
Some Activities in
In different districts of
The village named Chakramdas in the Vaishali region was made free from litigation and disputes were settled out of court. One or more than one from each of the 57 % of the families of the village has joined the Mahila Shanti Sena. We call this small area peace zone or Shanti Kshetra.
In Bagaha (
Peace Rally and Human Chain
American attack on
Mahila Shanti Sena Self-Help Groups and Voluntary Institutions
Unemployment is the problem that troubles our Women Shanti Sainiks the most. They want work so that they may earn. But these are questions that defy solution. The question of a woman’s livelihood is linked with the economic policy of the nation. However, women everywhere have started forming self-help groups. This is a good scheme and is sponsored by the Govt.
Many voluntary institutions have played a leading role in
the work of the Mahila Shanti Sena. They are: Van Vikas Bharati (
Mahila Shanti Sena and Panchayatraj
Rapid Action Mahila Shanti Sena
Efforts are on to raise a corps of the Mahila Shanti Sena by the name Tatpar Mahila Shanti Sena or Rapid Action Force of the Mahila Shanti Sena. Women are seen a moderating force in the Indian society and it is felt that women’s involvement before or at the initial stages of social violence breakouts can stop it from breaking out or at least escalating.
Women’s Writing Workshop
Training camps were organized to train selected members of
the Mahila Shanti Sena in the art of writing. One of these camps was held at
Shramabharati Khadigram on November 5-7, 2005 in which 25 women from 11
distrcts participated while in the other which was held at Patna on January 20-21,
2005,- in which 24 women from 17 districts took part. Help was made available
About one thousand women participated in a peace March of
the Mahila Shanti Sena in the district of Saran. Acharya Ramamurti was leading
the march. Some citizens were also present in the meeting of this peace march.
On seeing the meeting of women and listening to some of the women speakers
there, Dr. Vinod Kumar Singh, a 66 year old retired Principal of a degree
college, along with four more retired teachers, and two former government
servants, also retired, all these together have formed a ‘Citizen’s Forum’.
This group has been going to villages, talking to people, raising questions and
explaining problems. They have so far covered 25 panchayats in two blocks. A
walking tour was organized from
Dialogue With Political Parties
With a view to enabling persons of political
parties assemble at a forum and entering into dialogue with them, a meeting of
political party leaders was convened on
Publication of Literature for Common People
Books, posters, leaflets, folders etc. have been published from time to time on subjects such a Mahila Shanti Sena, Loktantra, (peoples democracy), Culture of Peace, neighbourhood building, panchayatiraj, etc. A bulletin entitled ‘ Pados’ (Neighborhood) was published until January 2004 but its publication at the moment has ceased for lack of funds. The English edition has also been discontinued. Some major publications are as follows:
1. Bharat Ka Loktantra: The step- forward
2. Panchayatiraj Aur Mahilayen
3. Mahila Shanti Sena
4. Mahila Shanti Kya Aur Kyon
5. Naye Bihar Ka Nirman Kaise Ho
6. Panchayatiraj: Sarkar ka Aur Gandhi Ka.
7. J.P Ka Ghoshna-Patra
8. Mahila Shanti Sena: What And Why?
9. Culture of peace, Participatory Democracy And Mahila Shanti Sena
10. Shanti Ki Sanskriti, Loktantra Aur Mahila Shanti Sena
In addition, some folders and posters were prepared for the training of Mahila Shanti Sena. Some manuscripts are ready in English and Hindi for publication.
Declaration of The Mahila Shanti Sena
This declaration was first made at Vaishali.
“ We women have come from villages to participate in this rally. We are all keeping silent. We have nothing to say on the top of our voice. But we want that you all, officers and citizens, may heed our silent language and understand it.
Some of us have become Shanti Sainiks. We shall try that every panchayat organises at least one dasta (group of 10) of Shanti Sainiks. More than one dasta can be organised. In a small locality, a panja (of five) can also be formed. Thus the task of building Mahila Shanti Sena in every panchayat has to be completed soon.
We women of the Shanti Sena want panchayatiraj; we seek honest bread. We want peace, security and self- respect. We have our families and their small courtyards but we want that we now step out in a bigger courtyard of society and become full participants in building up a new, happy and harmonious society. If there be unrest in society or poverty in a family, we women have to bear the brunt of both. We want that we may live happily as good neighbours.
We are women, this is not a fault. We are proud to be women. As a daughter, sister, wife and mother our position in society is that of equality. We should be so treated. We are determined to be treated as equals. When the country is free and independent, there is no reason why any one should be treated as a second- class citizen.
We hope that our silent message will be heeded both by government and society.”
After theVaishali Sabha a review meeting of co-workers who had worked with this programme was organized. The whole programme was discussed in this meeting and the consensus was reached that if the message of the Vaishali Sabha was to be carried forward such programmes should be organized in future as well. Care should be taken to make sure that new experiments are undertaken on the basis of the experiences of the Vaishali Sabha, and Mahila Shanti Sena work should be rapidly expanded because this will become the central focus of the new programme. Increasing women’s participation in panchayats through it, bringing about awareness in them so that for bringing about peace in family, neighbourhood and society they may come forward. And preparing them for this work. Efforts should also be made to enable women become self- sufficient, get respect and status of equality in society so that they may contribute adequately to the development of their family, panchayat and society. And they may also develop the capacity to analyse the problems, their primary reasons and finding solutions to them.
An International Seminar was organised to
evaluate the work and progress of the Mahila Shanti Sena and it was held from
The general conclusions coming out of the meeting included: (1) to focus the work of Mahila Shanti Sena in the eastern and north-estern part of India and not spread thin all over India, (2) to find ways and means of creating local employment for women, (3) to find ways of removing local obstacles in the work of Mahila Shanti Sena in certain violence prone regions of north-eastern states, (4) to secure major national and international funding to continue the work of Mahila Shanti Sena, (5) to seek lingages to and support from other like-minded international peace organizations, (6) to develop an international field course on Mahila Shanti Sena jointly between McMaster Centre Peace Studies and Shrambharati, and (7) to explore the feasibility of adopting and using the concept of Mahila Shanti Sena in other countries.
It was decided that next year’s Mahila Shanti Sena meeting will take place in February 2005 in Bhuvaneshwar (Orissa). A local organizing committee has been formed. It is expected that a number of Mahila Shanti Sena training camps will be held in varioius parts of Orissa in preparation of the meeting.
Friends of Mahila
Shanti Sena in
A meeting of the Canadian delegations that
participated in the international Seminar in
Shrambharati, B-173 Anisabad, Patna-2 (