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Friday 4th - Tuesday 8th March 2022

As part of our Roshni project, we’re excited to partner with International Women’s Day (IWD) Derby, celebrating International Women’s Day Festival Derby 2022.  Organised by IWD Derby, the celebrations will run from 4th-8th March 2022 with an inspiring programme of creative expression, activism, community activities, wellbeing sessions and a global panel.  For further details click here.



Gulabi Warri0rs Protest Puppet

Surtal Arts has been commissioned by IWD Derby to produce a giant protest puppet, Gulabi Warriors, honouring women & girls who have been victims of domestic violence.  This Gulabi Warrior puppet will be joined by other protest puppets such as eco activist Greta Thunberg and one symbolic Pandemic Nurse, with diverse features and symbols, and all will be processed on Saturday 5th March from Derby city centre; The Spot at 11am then into Derby Museum (old library, Wardwick).


Gulabi Warriors, also known as ‘The Gulabi Gang’ is an extraordinary women’s movement formed in 2006 by Sampat Pal Devi in the Banda District of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. This region is one of the poorest districts in the country and is marked by a deeply patriarchal culture, rigid caste divisions, female illiteracy, domestic violence, child labour, child marriages and dowry demands. The women’s group is popularly known as Gulabi or ‘Pink’ Gang because the members wear bright pink saris and wield bamboo sticks. Sampat says, “We are not a gang in the usual sense of the term, we are a gang for justice.” The Gulabi Gang was initially intended to punish oppressive husbands, fathers and brothers, and combat domestic violence and desertion. The members of the gang would accost male offenders and prevail upon them to see reason. The more serious offenders were publicly shamed when they refused to listen or relent. Sometimes the women resorted to their lathis, if the men resorted to use of force.  Now the group has formed a support group which protect the powerless from abuse and fight corruption to ensure basic rights of the poor in rural areas and discourage traditions like child-marriages.  Their mission is to support and train women to enhance their basic skills to become economically secure and develop confidence to protect themselves from abuse through sustainable livelihood options.

Please visit to find out more about the Gulabi Gang Warriors and how women are rising up against men’s violence in India.


How does the Gulabi Warriors fit in with Surtal’s work?

This is part of our ‘Arts in Health’ project, Roshni, which has been financially supported by the National Lottery Community Fund and Foundation Derbyshire to address physical and mental health and well being of women and elderly through various culturally specific arts activities.  We know many women in our communities especially during the pandemic have been a victim of domestic violence.  Many within the South Asian communities suffer in silence, for the fear of stigmatization or financial instability or family reputation damage within their community.

So we are inviting women and girls from all communitie, especially from the South Asian communities, to come and take part in our workshops and help make a giant Gulabi Warrior puppet with our artist, Kate Doncaster.

Workshop will give them an opportunity to learn about India’s famous Gulabi Gang and be inspired by their story.  Perhaps it will encourage women and girls out there to open up to someone they can trust rather than suffering in silence. Mental health cannot be brushed under the carpet.

The finished puppet will be marched in a IWD procession along with other puppets (i.e Derby Suffragist Alice Wheeldon, Eco activist Greta Thunberg and a Pandemic Nurse and a diverse pyramid of Empowerment) on 5th March at Derby City centre in honour of inspiring women and girls, celebrating their rights and raise awareness of an important subject such as ‘violence against women’- it’s time we all talked about it!

We stand on the shoulders of giants, we will not be diminished or erased, #TakeUpSpace and unleash your inner giant!

making of gulabi warrior puppet

Organised by IWD, we attended a skill-sharing session with Nottingham’s New Art Exchange who initially conceptualized the idea.  It was great to see how NAE had developed their processional protest puppets and how we can use similar methods to build our own wickers Gulabi Warrior protest puppet in Derby with the artistic guidance of our local artist, Kate Doncaster.  Kate will lead 3 free open drop-in workshops and all women and girls  will be welcome to come and participate in the construction of this magnificent warrier puppet.  

Puppet carrier/performers wanted

We are looking for 3 women to carry the Gulabi Warrior puppet (will be 2meter high from the shoulder) in the IWD procession march on Saturday 5th March (10am to 12.30pm) from the Spot (Derbion) to the Central Library, The Wardwick (adjacent to the Derby Museum and Arts Gallery.   If you are interested, then contact Surtal Arts asap.  You will be paid for your time. 

NAE skill sharing.jpg

Photo Courtesy of IWD


All Gulabi Warrior Puppet making workshop will be led by artist, Katy Doncaster.  Kate is an experienced willow artist and it will be her interpretation of the Gulabi Warrior with input from workshop participants. 


Places are limited, and so please book early through these Facebook OR Eventbrite links below:

Saturday 19 February, 11am - 3pm
Saturday 26 February, 2.30pm - 5.30pm

Derby Women's Centre

4 Leopold Street



On street car park

Wednesday 23rd February,
11am - 3pm

Museum of Making

Silk Mill Lane



No parking on site.  Nearby parking at the Assembly Rooms, Bold Lane & Chapel Street car parks and parking cards can be validated at the Museum of Making to give a discounted rate of £2.50 for a day.  There are 4 accessible parking bays on Silk Milk Lane which are for use by Blue Badge Holders only.

Saturday 19 February, 11am - 3pm
Saturday 26 February, 2.30pm - 5.30pm


10am Derby Women’s Centre: dress rehearsal / practice time with puppeteer-performers, then head together to The Spot


11am Gather at The Spot, St Peters Street (rings outside Derbion) – people gather to march for IWD

March proceeds down high street to Derby Museums event in Wardwick (old library)


12.30pm-4.30pm with stalls, music, crafts, activities – puppets will be on display (without performers/puppet carriers) 

Visit the IWD Website listing all dates

Chai & Chat 

Sunday 13th March, 2-5pm

CURC Tennis Club

25 & 27 Brayfield Road, Littleover, Derby DE23 6LD

An invitation to women of Derby .....Take time out and join us for an afternoon tea with poetry, music and dance - a perfect way to celebrate Women's Day and make new friends.  Come and enjoy singing with Gunwant Kaur and have masala chai and snacks. This is also an opportunity to join our choir group to sing for pleasure or for performance at Derby Season of Light Festival 2022.

FREE to attend but places are limited! Please contact Surtal Arts if you wish to come.


Event is part of Arts in Health Project - Roshni, supported by National Lottery Community Fund & Foundation Derbyshire

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