Sunday, December 31, 2017

Another year done!

This must have been our most confident campaign yet, a function perhaps of the ten year review earlier in 2017 which reminded us of things we had managed to do in far less amenable circumstances. But the ease also came from the enthusiastic energy of our Campaign Associate, Malavika Ravi, who managed the logistics of the campaign with far less stress than we have felt in years gone by. Or at least, we are grateful that is the impression with which she left us. She has brought great enthusiasm and warmth to this year's campaign and we look forward to her hanging out with us for some years to come!

Thanks also to Santha and Sudaroli whose quiet back-room support and self-effacing attention to detail took a great deal of the load off the Campaign Associate's shoulders.

Thanks to our wonderful partners and the participants of our programmes. We have made many promises and we will now turn our attention to keeping them.

2018 is the last year of the third cycle of our 16 Days Campaign. The run-up to 2017 was quite taxing although the fortnight itself was relatively chilled out. We will take a call on the shape and substance of the 2018 outing much later this year, and it will depend on how vividly we remember the pain. In any event, we will see you then!

Eight campaigns done... and here's looking forward to obsolescence, as always!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Farewell - for 2017!

2018 is fast approaching and the campaign passed by in a flash; and we have done so much writing and documentation that a closing post seems like a daunting task. However, since we are allowed a little bit of reflection on the blog, here are some thoughts..

There were so many smaller victories of the campaign that got overlooked by the bigger ones, but that made the impact so much more powerful, and the memory so much more special. On the day of one of our biggest events, the consultation on Women & Work, we were greeted with heavy rainfall. Three of us got there early and hoped with all our hearts that at least half of the invited participants would turn up-but everyone did, despite the rain. The flash mob originated as an open call and a public event, but turned into a performance whose practise was conducted privately by a closed group-and it turned out much better and well organised than it was originally. Swarna ma'am was willing to speak to an audience of complete strangers, of whom we had no idea as to what ideologies they subscribed to; and they were so interested in her talk, we ran out of brochures to give out: the first time in the campaign that this had happened.

Now that it is the end of the year, Swarna ma'am released a poster on the good things that had happened at Prajnya over the year, and I was so happy that a good portion of this included campaign events. In all the organizations that I've worked with, Prajnya and the campaign is perhaps the only one where I don't feel like I'm leaving at all; simply moving ahead with other things, but keeping a part of myself with it. During the middle of the campaign, Sweta said something around the lines of, "This is my contribution to the campaign this year", and something about the way she said it made me feel heartened: that I too would be able to say this, year after year; to be able to contribute towards the campaign and to watch Prajnya grow even more, in leaps and bounds.



Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Blog Symposium: Violence against women in politics #StopVAWIP

Throughout the campaign we also had the honour of hosting 6 blog entries on the GRIT Prajnya blog from all around the world, on violence against women in politics. The entries came in from 6 countries: India, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka, Maldives and the USA. Find the links here:


India: Strength - And safety - In numbers

Maldives: Roughed up and repressed

Sri Lanka: What's stopping her?

Puerto Rico: Women in politics - New rules for equality

Colombia: Institutional violence vs. political equality 

USA: Because she was a woman

Friday, December 22, 2017

Colours of Equality: Day 16

For the last day, in the morning, we set off to Guduvanchery, to conduct a poster competition at Roshni school. After a long ride, we arrived at the school and set up registrations. The children were given topics in relation to Human Rights Day,  themes drawn from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:   

        You are born free and equal in rights to every other human being.
        Everyone has human rights no matter what your race, skin, colour, sex, language, religion, opinions, family background, social or economic status, birth or nationality.
        Nobody has the right to torture, harm or humiliate you.
        You have a right to be protected and treated equally by the law without discrimination of any kind.
        Each and every person who is legally old enough has the right to marry and have a family.
        Nobody should force you to get married.
        You have the right to have a healthy and comfortable life.
        Mothers and children should receive special care and help.

The children exhibited superior levels of thinking, and it was very hard for the judges to make a decision. There were 3 prizes awarded in each category (Classes 5-7, and 8-10). 

Here is a link to the posters!

Talk on Gender & Militarisation: Day 16

The last event of the campaign was a talk by Dr. Swarna on gender and militarisation, conducted in collaboration with Warhorse, an educational consultancy. Dr Swarna started off with an introduction, and then moved into sharing experiences of women in conflict zones, what is revealed when one looks from a gender lens, and what people can do. She spoke of how gender manifests in conflict zones, and how the military affects even normal day-to-day activities. We ended with a question-answer session, and the audience had so many questions; we had to close up and request them to contact her separately!
Catch a glimpse here.

Women's History Roundtable: Day 15

Continuing the Women's History Roundtable Series, on Saturday the 9th, Radhika Bhalerao, our GRIT Research fellow for 2017 presented her findings on intimate partner violence in heterosexual couples, at Writers' cafe, to an audience of about 20 people. She spoke of the different types of IPV, and then described what she found while interviewing two samples: rural and urban Maharashtra. We then moved into a question-answer session. The WHRT series happens every month, look out for the next one!

Just between us: Day 14

On the 8th of December, Dr. Swarna conducted a multi-generational conversation with the members of the University Women's Association, where she encouraged them to sit in pairs of different generations, and share experiences and learning relating to gender violence and how to cope and combat the same. We had about 6 pairs of women, who sat in pairs at first and then evolved into a larger group discussion. The older generation spoke about how things have changed from how they were brought up, and the mechanisms they used to protect themselves from harassment and violence. The younger generation spoke of what they did now, and listened and took back lessons on how to combat harassment. We ended with a discussion on what we can do to help, and a promise to come back soon.

Panel on Domestic Violence: Day 13

On day 12, we organised a panel discussion on domestic violence, at the Madras School of Social Work. The panelists were: Swetha Shankar, who works with PCVC, and spoke about the state of victims of domestic violence; Advocate Lalitha who spoke on the legal mechanisms, remedies and the challenges one faces while trying to help victims legally; Radhika Bhalerao, who spoke on intimate partner violence; and DCP Rohith Nathan, who spoke about how the police deals with abuse victims and legal remedies.
Swetha, after a brief introduction to domestic violence, spoke about emotional violence, gas lighting, and sexual violence. She then moved into the kind of work PCVC does, and gave examples of the situations women are put into which urge them to contact PCVC for help. She then detailed the impact that violence has on women: which includes an impact on their sociocultural surroundings, mental and physical health.
Advocate Lalitha spoke about the process of filing a legal complaint and the different issues she faced while trying to get remedies for women; which includes cases being shifted to different dates, women not reporting the crimes, treatment of violence in society being very casual etc.
Radhika Bhalerao started off with the different types of partners, and then moved into types of IPV, which includes coercive controlling violence, violent resistance, situational coupe violence and separation instigated violence. She also shared her findings from studying the same in an urban and rural population.
DCP Rohith Nathan spoke about the intersectionality of domestic violence, the psychological causes that lead to this, the role of alcohol and drugs, and the grey areas one encounters in the law during execution.

The session ended with a question-answer session with the students of MSSW.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Theatre workshop at WCC: Day 12

For day 11, in association with Marappachi Trust, we organised a theatre workshop for the students of B.A English at WCC. It was conducted by Mangai Arasu, and aided by Srijith. There were about 20 girls in total, and we started off with a few theatre and performance games, followed by games which also had undertones of gendered understanding. Some of the games included; the shadow game, where we were divided into pairs and we had to try to escape each other (similar to how one needs to escape a harasser); time to prepare a small skit on standing up for oneself; and enacting situations of gendered conflict. We ended the session with a discussion on how we felt after each game, and what learning we took back. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Symposium on Women's Lives and Social Change: Day 11

On the 5th of December, in collaboration with the Women's Studies department of Madras University, we conducted a symposium on Women's Lives and Social Change. The Symposium consisted of four panels and a presentation of the work of the department's research scholars. 
The first panel, moderated by Dr. Swarna Rajagopalan, was titled "What Women Do, What Academics Study". First Dr. Manivannan from Madras University spoke about women farmers, the importance of integrating field work with research, and the intersectionality of disciplines like economics and politics. Dr. Azhagarasan then spoke about the importance of caste and gender. Dr. Priyamvadha spoke about oppressive cultural practises and gave us details on the different kinds of such practises across the world. 
The next panel was titled "The art of writing women's lives and work", and had Dr. Padma Mckertick speak about women's writing and fiction and the challenges one faces while reading books in terms of sexist work, and Dr. Swarnamalya Ganesh who spoke about Silapadikaram and feminist readings of Tamil texts. 
The next session was a presentation by the PhD scholars of the department, and included research oriented towards development, labour, genealogy, gastronomy, CSR and technology. 
The next panel was called "Women, violence and social change" and had journalist Kavitha Muralidharan speak about due diligence and the case of honour killings, politician and writer Salma speak about the challenges women face in politics and the workplace, and activist Fatima Burnad speak about working on field and being in the public eye. 
The last panel, "Women taking action: Activist Roundtable", had Renuka Bala from CWDR and Prasanna Gettu from PCVC sharing their experiences as founders of women-oriented organisations, the challenges they had to overcome and what their work involved. Each panel was followed by a question and answer session.