ABC of Gender justice holds dialogues to build equal participation at New Seemapuri, September 24
The 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium 2014 in collaboration with Mitika, a development resource organization in New Delhi, and Project Concern International (PCI) conducted an interactive session called ABC of Gender Justice – Ab Baaki Charcha with the residents of New Seemapuri on 24 September. Runu Chakraborty, a prominent gender activist and expert from Delhi was also present at the event interacting with the young boys and men on issues that they have come across in life and initiatives that they could take up if confronted with the same issues again.
Women, girls, boys and men came in large number to witness the forum theatre conducted by Mittika team members. The forum theatre touched upon issues of gender demarcation through attribution of stereotypical gender roles and the family's own desires upon newly born infants. It also addressed the issue of lack of infrastructure and social accountability for the need and demands of women. The concluding part of the forum theatre depicted the unequal power dynamics between gender in public places and the general lack of a sense of responsibility of the masses on account of public violence.
All sections of the audience, men and women, young and old and boys and girls stepped up to give their feedback and suggested small changes that would go a long way in uprooting the gender based inequalities and violence persistent in today’s world. The audience collectively admitted to and opined that certain attributes such as strength, leadership, bravery etc were also attributes that women and girls have and that it was necessary for boys and men to harbour attributes such as sensitivity, emotional responses, sensibilities and obedience. The women present brought out the fact that men shouldn’t intimidate a woman when she is outnumbered in a public place.
They stated how women also have equal rights and entitlement over public places and that if women are allowed a more free mobility then they would also be able to inhabit and use public places which would pave a way for decreasing hostility and indifference towards women in public places. The forum theatre also questioned the notion of a general silence and disengagement with issues of public violence and many admitted that one should immediately take action when confronted with violence, be it upon one's self or upon a stranger.
After the forum theatre and the discussion that followed, Runu Chakraborty, an independent gender activist and consultant, had an interactive session with male youth of the area reflecting upon instances of gender violence that they had witnessed and what they felt was the need of the hour at that instant and also, what behavioural actions and habits one should inculcate in reference to preventing the violence further and uprooting it. Many young boys and men also expressed their desire and consent to form a peer group amongst themselves in order to better understand and connect to each other and collectively examine themselves as ‘men’ and what changes they could make to undo and stand against those attributes of being a man that necessarily disrespect and devalue women and femininity.