Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pratiti in Jaipur - April Meetup

On April 16, 2016, the fellows from the Pratiti Jaipur cohort got together with Arushi for their monthly meetup at the Pravah Jaipur Initiative's premises. Below, she shares her experiences from the day and the excitement building inside her about all that's to come:

"It was surprisingly a nice breezy day and we could sit outdoors contrary to what one might expect on an April day in the capital of the desert state (we did eventually witness the temperatures soar eventually, who can escape the sun’s wrath in Rajasthan after all)! It was a day of deepening the fellows’ understanding of gender and upskilling themselves to facilitate community conversations on this omnipresent monster of an issue. It was also a day of ‘all that can go wrong’ but everyone still managed to strive through and learn from each other’s projects and plan the way ahead. The description below is a glimpse of all that happened …
The day began with a short session on ‘gender realities’ facilitated by one of the fellows, Priyanka who through games showcased how the current social systems restricts women from dreaming and aspiring to achieve those dreams while the same system assists men in the same! During the conversation, it also came out that since this the only reality we all know, if women are trying to break free of it, men might feel threatened that this is an attempt to annihilate them as the concept of peaceful and equal co-existence is only seldom talked about. Clearly, we need to work together to give our vision of gender equal world (or a world with gender peace <3) a concrete shape. We need to paint that picture, we need to write that story to be able to share the same with everyone.
Between sessions

The importance of this social system and the need for an alternative reality became further evident through the session on ‘gender socialization’ or simply, how does gender come to be a part of our lives (I can't imagine having been born afraid of being alone at night!). Fellows created stories about a man and a woman based on what they see around and there were stark differences in what messages they receive from their families, school, NGOs, neighborhood – the society as a whole. While the woman protagonist always came over obstacles with an external support, there was no such thread in the man’s story! Of course the flipside was visible in the end of the man’s story where he committed suicide due to financial pressures (bank loans, to be precise) and the lack of support available for him.
Pratiti fellows then clearly articulated the messages that males and females receive from families, schools and media during their lifetime, including women are “impure” at the time of menstruation, men need to be strong, women are beautiful objects and the likes – you might know these from your experiences, none of us are immune to such messages. But once we realize that these are “messages” and not truths or our specific characteristics, we can learn to challenge or ignore these. Even better, we can start to change the conversation and give messages that start of wave of socialization towards a gender equal world ! Right? 
During one of the chai pe charchas
Pratiti fellows are doing the same in their lives, families, organisations and communities! They are striving to strike conversations and create empathetic safe spaces for everyone – men, women, girls, boys. Girraj from Smile Foundation who works with adolescent in a rural community near Jaipur is regularly holding sessions with women and men to promote sharing of household chores. He is walking the talk and assisting his wife in cooking and child care (much to the disappointment of his mother who is still not on board with his idea, but we are sure he will infuse the spirit of equality eventually in her as well ;)) and trying to engage community members through games and activities. Women members have opened up to Girraj to share that they don’t consider it “right” to occupy chairs in front of men or to not cover their faces. The challenge that he has now taken up is to “inspire” women through constructive action to dream of a reality where they also have “rights” and do not only have to live by what is considered “right”. 
Another one of our fellows, Siddharth has taken up the task of resolving gender differences he observes in his organization, Magic Bus. During his initial interactions, women staff members have opened up to share how they feel when they aren’t considered able enough to take on field activities. He has a long way to go to build a common ground for all staff members where men do not feel it is unnecessary that women take on field responsibilities. We are hoping Siddharth can share the benefits of the difference in perspective that diversity brings in, and of course also help them break their stereotypes about women. In the social sector, it is essential that the actors working on various causes are gender sensitive! We cant afford to share the same story of patriarchy through our interactions, it is quite counterproductive to our own efforts to say the least. 
We are hopeful that the Jaipur cohort will fuel the revolution towards a gender equal tomorrow and with their diverse approaches and extensive on-ground reach, we await excitedly on the stories that remain untold. As is our habit now, we will keep sharing these with you and wish, pray, request, demand that you take up something in your own lives and join us in our journey :)"
- Arushi 

Follow the Pratiti blog to receive more updates about the Jaipur fellows and their journey against Gender Based Violence over the coming months!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pratiti in Bhopal - March Meetup

The Pratiti Bhopal cohort’s first monthly meetup took place via a full day workshop on Tuesday, 29th March at the ICM Bhopal premises.

Purvi sets the day's agenda

The day began with the participants sharing about the gendered experiences they are a part of on a daily basis but have only now begun to observe. Many powerful stories were shared ranging from how views and beliefs are evolving to how habits and notions are being uprooted. 

One such story was from Poonam, who works with Eka. She shared:
As I now know what is gender and where it originates from, I have started pointing it out in my day to day life even in my office. Recently, there was a program hosted in CM house where women were asked to wear pink sarees. We were also asked to do the same. On asking why this particular attire, we were told that pink is girl’s color. I bluntly refused wearing the pink saree stating that it is gendered and I will not follow the same…” 
Following the sharing was an extremely interesting session on facilitation, in which participants, one each from every organization, were asked to self-nominate and facilitate a gender session based on their existing knowledge and what they had learned thus far. 

Discussing about the nitty gritties of facilitation
Manohar, Rahul, Ashish, Sunil, Tabassum, Poonam and Divya were the volunteers who nominated themselves on behalf of Bachpan, Sathiya, Pahal, Synergy Sansthan, Pioneer, Eka and the ActionAid Network Office respectively, with each given 15 minutes to design their own customized session based on a list of themes revolving around gender: 
- What is gender? 
- What is gender based violence? 
- What are stereotypes/dharnayein? 
- How can we support someone who has faced/is facing violence? 
- What are the benefits of gender equality for the community? 

Manohar introduces his session
Tabassum facilitates her session
Ashish organizing his session
Participants discuss in pairs as part of an activity under Ashish's session
Sunil introduces his facilitation session
The 7 volunteers smoothly navigated their way through facilitation, despite most having no prior experience, by keeping the audience involved and engaged in their own fascinating ways. The post-lunch session saw the participants finalize the ideas for their action projects and reflect on why they chose this idea and the resources they would need for the same.

Engrossed in discussions about action projects
The day concluded with a final session on the list of activities that will be planned by the participants for the month of April to get their action projects underway on-ground.
Stay tuned for their impact stories!

Happiness and smiles during the concluding energizer!


Follow the Pratiti blog to receive more updates about the Bhopal fellows and their journey against Gender Based Violence over the coming months!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pratiti in Jaipur - March Meet Up and Sunil's letter

18th March, 2016 - Pratiti Jaipur - March One Day Meet Up

The Pratiti Jaipur cohort gathered for their monthly workshop and one day meet up on the 18th of March, 2016 at the Pravah Jaipur Initiative's premises. The day was designed to allow the participants to reflect on their experiences in the journey so far, share personal gendered experiences they may have come across since the last meet up and evaluate group-wise action project progress.

The team-wise sharing saw each organization team discuss about the work they had undertaken in their communities and the points at which they had to stretch or would need further help in. 

Priyanka and Mukesh, from Magic Bus, marked Pratiti Jaipur's first large scale on-ground intervention via an action project by successfully holding an event on the occasion of Women's Day on March 8th. Their narration:
“On the occasion of Women’s Day, as part of our action project for Pratiti, we organized a 2 hour program in the Nahargarh slum community, a community new to us and in which we had never worked in before.

Our objectives were:
  • To inform the community members about the different kinds of gender based violence
  • To initiate new thoughts and conversations about gender among the youth
  • To learn ways to stay safe from gender based violence
We began mobilization conversation a few days prior to the program. Around 150 men, women and children from the community attended. We organized a ‘nukkad naatak’ on gender, post which we organized a few games which initiated long discussions and conversations with the audience regarding gender stereotypes and prevailing superstitions. The program was very well received and we were extremely proud to pull it off successfully”

Pratiti Jaipur participants from Magic Bus, Priyanka and Mukesh, held their action project intervention in the Nahargarh slum community on the occasion of Women's Day

Facilitating a discussion on gender with children and youth from the community

Girraj from the Smile Foundation narrated about his interactions with women and girls in the slum communities his organization regularly teaches in. He made use of tools and games to convey the concepts of gender and intends to hold such sessions every Sunday to eventually co-create a safe space for women to freely share their stories and experiences.

Ravi and Neetu from Vishakha shared how they had made considerable progress in their aim of initiating gender conversations among various sub groups in their communities. They had held separate discussions with boys and girls to introduce Vishakha and share about what they had learnt in Pratiti. They also held a camp with married girls and boys to gauge the issues they face.

Amitabh, Palak and Sunil from the Pravah Jaipur Initiative held conversations with their organization head on how best they could intervene on the topic of gender in different schools and colleges while also spreading Pravah's values of youth empowerment. They are currently in the process of designing workshops which facilitate conversations on gender roles and equality with youth in Jaipur. 

Hari and Apurva, participants from the Azad Foundation, shared how they had connected with local CBOs in the 3 bastis where they wanted to organize their action project around the theme of public space safety.  They also managed to get on board Focus Bharat news as their local media partner for their planned campaign.

In the subsequent sessions, participants learned how to facilitate by holding small sessions themselves, learnt about the importance of proper communication, collaboration and teamwork, and further refined their action plans for the coming months.

The day concluded with a popcorn session in which participants shared about their feelings and the areas where they feel they would need guidance in the coming days. Onwards and upwards to April!


A letter from Sunil

Sunil, from Pravah Jaipur, wrote a beautiful little letter to the Pratiti team sharing his experiences in the journey thus far. 

Sunil (center) shares his thoughts about Pratiti with us through a letter

Hello Pratiti team,

Thanks for selecting me to work on Gender Based Violence. I have learned a lot of things about gender based violence, equality and equity, during the 3 day workshop. Before the workshop, I had a limited thought of gender and was also a bit sentimental and stereotypical. Now I am stopping this and becoming broad minded. My anger has always been my big weakness. But now I am able to overcome and decrease my anger. I hear each and every one from their heart and think about them and try to give them a right solution. I also like all the activities and games during the workshop. In the 3 day workshop I also learned how to take leadership and how to start a workshop and communicate with people. Overall the whole workshop was very beneficial for me.

The one day meetup in a month is also good for me. We recollect the things and activities that we have done during the 3 day workshop, collect our issues and decide to work on them. Me, Palak and Amitabh collected the information we wanted to work on. But in first meetup we were a little confused because we had a lot of questions and activities to do for our gender workshop. So after the first meetup, we were totally confused, but after that we talked to Amreen and decided to work on one issue by questionnaire and Café Mohalla and start our journey with Pratiti on gender with school students and different colleges and NGOs also. So before 2nd meetup, we prepared a plan. The second meetup workshop was good for us because we were able to make a plan and were also able to collect some questionnaire and poster and letterhead for mobilization. Now I am a little bit afraid and nervous also about how we will manage it all. Both nervous and excited also.

Also thanks to our mentor Purvi who communicated with us and showed us a way to proceed. And also thanks to Aditya, Arushi and Somesh also. I hope this project is very beneficial for me. I will hear of lot of things and learn about leadership and I want to polish my soft skills and personality also. So it is very helpful for me for being a good human being. I will definitely give my hundred percent to fulfill this project. So please help me to do that. Overall the workshop and both the meetups were very beneficial for me. We will be starting our mission from 1st of April. 

Thanks to you all,

By Sunil Kumar Bishnoi

Be sure to follow the Pratiti blog for live updates from the Jaipur fellows as they work together against Gender Based Violence in the coming months!