Monday, November 21, 2016

Gender Peace Workshop with Ibtada, Alwar

The day started...
People for parity organized a three day residential workshop from 12th November to 14th November, 2016 with one of its partner organizations, Ibtada on gender specific capacity building in Alwar. Ibtada works to strengthen communities especially women to play an influential role to reduce social and economic poverty and inequality. People for parity organized workshop focusing on the capacity building of the staff which helped them to have a better understanding on gender through self awareness. Total 23 members of Ibtada attended the workshop.

On paths, path shall we discover….
The workshop started with some warm up activities followed by self introduction session to create a friendly ambiance. Before starting the major sessions to understand their expectations or moment thoughts, we spent a little time to know each other’s expectations from this workshop. After that we came up with some mutual agreements which should be followed throughout the three day workshop.

For showing them any bigger picture or any different perspective on Gender, the clarification or the knowledge of the difference between the two terms- sex and gender should be clear to them. Hence to create the understanding a small activity was done where they had to give their agreement on the statement written on a chit. This activity reflected their perception towards sex and gender, what definition or understanding they had in their mind regarding this. Once it was cleared, the session was followed by Chinese whisper game to understand the interpretation and evolution of the social messages we receive as our culture to define the identity of gender. Then there was a discussion on the source of gender disparity, how it started and became an epidemic.  After that, to make them reflect on their daily life and to understand its influence we did a small group activity where we tried to figure out or recognize the disparity of the social messages for holding a particular gender identity. It helped them to understand the evolution of gender in the society.

I am…
As they gradually started understanding the visible disparity in society’s thoughts, belief – empathy was introduced to them. The most notable thing was being activists they were aware of sympathy and considered it as one the best approach to show in a vulnerable situation. This session led them to an inner transformation, showed them a different dimension to have the kind of perception toward things. Seema ji, one of the staff members, stated, “We often fail to empathize with our co workers as we never tried to listen to their side of story rather we did not try to realize them. We are so self centric that we always think of finishing our given tasks without understanding their vulnerability. But social sector is a place where this tool should be implemented the most.”  Other staff member, Chandrakant ji stated, “I have learnt new word 'empathy'. I thought that sympathy was the only thing we can show to a person. But today I have realized how different it is from empathy and empathy is the thing what we should try to do with people whenever they are in any vulnerable situation.”

Among masses within opinion pulse of public we will gather, uncover, discover
The session on socialization helped them to understand the influence or practice of the messages we receive from the society to define our lifestyle. In this session through an activity they could balance the pressure of the society both on men and women. Saheb ji said, “We only blame men for making a woman’s life terrible. But through this activity hope we all have realized that some injected social norms make situation worse for both men and women. If a woman has to suffer it, the man has to create it, because that’s what they have been trained.”

Let’s make a story…
Session on social power was conducted through activity including drama. In this session they had an in hand experience how predefined social power impacted the fate of decision in a woman’s life and what role it played in a man’s life to perceive things. Santosh quoted, “I have come to this realization point that I have enough capacity to do things, but making the decision to do those, something which was not in me. But I am confident that from now I will work on the access of the power to make decisions for my life which is already in me.”  This session further led to the self reflective session, ‘zones’ which helped them to reflect upon their strength, fear, anxiety. Pooja said, “Today I feel that I too have an identity. It took me time to recognize myself, to acknowledge myself. I am feeling very confident and hopeful now. I want to start working on my shortcomings first.” Pilot ji further added, “I did not know that the shortcomings which had been resisting us, were inside us. We need to focus on ourselves first, and then we would be able to bring change outside.”

We’re opening up a Pandora’s Box. Be careful what you wish for…
ESCA was a session which helped to learn how to implement the understanding of empathy, zones, social power in field work. It was a tool for the behavioral approach. They found it quite convincing and practical. But some of them needed a little more discussion on it to get more clarification on its approach.

On third day we had a discussion on social beliefs, its system and source and how it was emerged in our day to day life. This belief system gave them a glimpse of reality which they unconsciously overlooked in their day to day life. Vrihaspati said, “We receive messages from the society from the very beginning of our life and that's what makes all the differences in one's life- I was not aware of it. I somehow skipped this consciousness. Now everything is crystal clear to me.”  Sahab ji further added, “Whatever I have learnt throughout these three days workshop, I desire to implement those in the society to demonstrate them that the conceptual ideas of the society are far, far away from the reality we deal with.  We can do a lot more than what society thinks we can do, better should do.”

Life is a theatre set in which there are but few practicable entrances…
The entire realization took a completion with gender peace session. It provoked them to think of the world to which they actually wanted to belong. This session had a very reflective activity where they had a reality check on what they dreamt but how they lived. Tara ji stated, “I have learnt empathy, I have learnt the norms of the society and mine as well. I can see a different me now. The activity with toffee was a mirror to me. It reflected the darker side of us that we didn’t mercy anyone when it came to our self interest.”

Over all, this workshop was a successful first step towards gender peace as attendees felt a shift in their mindset end of the workshop. Rajesh ji stated, “My perception towards gender has completely shifted to the other zone now and I can feel it.” Rajkumar added to it saying, “This workshop has been very insightful for me. I have clarity on things now what I keep hearing from my surroundings. Especially this toffee activity was very insightful. I have understood the gender peace concept. 

What we see, hear, we speak…
Whenever we hear sex, gender, we tend to interpret these terms in an aggressive way, but I did not see that approach in this workshop. The term gender peace, equality, what we talked about, truly reflected in this workshop as not a single time facilitator accused males for the situation of the women in the society, rather they tried to empathize the situation (what a man and woman both face in the society).”