Author’s Note: The term “womxn” is used in place of the term “woman” in this piece to include individuals who identify as cisgender (identifying with the gender they were assigned at birth), transgender (identifying with a gender that is different than the one they were assigned at birth)  or non-binary (meaning that one does not identify with a binary gender such as male or female) Some writers will use “womxn” to dissociate from the patriarchy, however in the case of this piece, the author is using this term to be inclusive.

On January 19th, 2019 I attended the Womxn’s March in Denver, CO for the first time with my dad and some family friends just to see what it was like. Putting all the intricate politics of this movement aside, I noticed something quite unique about this event. There was a common sense of shared sisterhood and struggle to find a solution to the problems we all face as human beings. As I walked past the Colorado State Capitol, I could feel the mood of the air shift. Instead of feeling frustrated, the sense I got from the marchers was that they were in ChardiKala (the highest of spirits regardless of the darkness being experienced) and were looking to use their voices to draw attention to issues they felt were relevant.

While a few fellow Sikh brothers and sisters did attend the March in Denver, I wondered: where is everyone else at? (metaphorically) There is a decent sized Sangat in Colorado (and more or less across the 50 states) and surely someone is bound to be concerned about the rights of womxn and do something about it in one capacity or another (regardless of political ideology). I will leave that question for you to ponder as I present you with a bit of food for thought.

Mao Zedong once proclaimed: “women hold up half the sky.”

Every single Sikh womxn contributes to holding up the Panth in her own unique way. The collective contributions of Sikh womxn add up and help hold up not just half of the Panth but the ENTIRE Panth. Without womxn in the Panth, Sikhi as we know it today would not exist. Womxn are the glue of the Panth, they carry the Panth forwards and having been doing so since the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Womxn have shaped and continue to shape the Panth in groundbreaking ways. From Mai Bhago Ji to Mata Sahib Kaur Ji, Sikhi and the Khalsa Panth are founded on the love and fearless actions of women who were willing to sacrifice what they had to contribute to a greater cause.

The womxn in the Panth contribute to much of the success and progress we are making as a collective Sikh body in the modern era. From Valarie Kaur piloting the Revolutionary Love Project to Serene Singh earning the coveted Rhodes Scholarship, womxn in the Sikh community are trailblazing a path forward for the next generation in their own unconventional ways.

The contributions of Sikh womxn to the Panth are not just on a large scale, they are also on a smaller scale. For all of us, the mother is the first teacher. Sikh womxn impact the lives of their children by living and teaching our values in action; by sharing their joy in their own Sikhi; through educating them about the countless sacrifices made by those before us, and by using social media platforms to influence Sikhs of all backgrounds to lead better, healthier lives. Daily, Sikh womxn are creating a path forward for the Panth to follow for generations to come.

The future of the Sikh Panth lies within the power of the womxn in our community, because that is where our core and foundation lie. The strength and fearless power vested in Sikh womxn is what will both anchor the Panth and keep it moving forward during the challenging times that lie ahead. When Sikh womxn come together and use their collective strength to work towards a common cause, they are incredibly powerful and have the potential to impact thousands of people.

It is time for the voices of Sikh womxn to be further amplified. It is time for the stories of those who are oppressed to be heard and respected and believed. It is time to unite as a Panth to fight against the injustices womxn, in and outside of the Panth, experience. It is time to empower our young Sikh womxn to work towards a cause that they believe in so that in the future they can carry the Panth and the greater global community into a better world.

Bhul Chuk Maaf Ji ~Maigh Kaur Jammu

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