Tuesday, 27 September 2016

‘Sahas’ speaks on the youth platform

“It is better to take
many small steps in the right direction
than to make a giant leap forward
only to stumble backward”

'Sahas' on youth platform
It’s been just 3 months of starting and working for Sahas, but the experience that we have gained struggling and immersing in the work with adolescents around gender, sexuality and reproductive health has been far beyond this word ‘just’. As we prepare for our next intervention with new bunch of adolescents from Shabaad diary near Samaypur Badli in Delhi, we got an opportunity to share about our work in an event organized by Mash Project under the heading “Broadening our perspective on Gender and Sexuality”.
Initially I was hesitant about being part of the event as I thought we have just started and currently it’s more important to keep working rather than attending an event! However Mona liked the idea as she believed that it’s important to engage with the young people on the cause that we are intensively working on. Also I, then realized that though we have started Sahas 3 months back, but it has taken a lot and there is a story behind the same that needs to be shared with young people so that more and more people come ahead and work for the cause. And finally the list of inspiring speakers that included Pramada Menon, Co-founder, CREA sealed the deal!!

We reached before time at the venue where the preparations for the event was on full swing, so we sat down to relax, a little later Pramada Menon arrived and the smile on her face looking at us was priceless. “I looked at the list of the speakers for the event, I was happy to see Sahas also participating and that is one of the reasons why I was also excited to come here”, says Pramada ji. We knew that she is following our work on social media but meeting her in person and discussing the work was definitely motivating and inspiring.
Inspiring conversation with Pramada Menon
“I like what you guys are doing. For long I have not seen people who work for the cause and with the right intent and not for the money”, says Pramada ji. The words coming from the person who has been and is part of the Feminist movement for more than 20 years filled our hearts with love, joy and electrifying energy. What an amazing beginning for the event!

It was an overwhelming experience hearing Mona share her passion and journey of Sahas, which was beyond these 3 months when it began in 2012 when Nirbhaya rape case had happened, an incident that shook so many of us! I could feel the emotions Mona was going through while sharing her passion, the incident and pain is so alive in us. The silence was so deafening and it made the whole space quite intense.
Mona, Co-founder, Sahas shares her journey
The event had interesting line of speakers- all of them were young women working on gender through various ways- art, walks, door to door campaigns etc. “50 young women are coming together next month to hold the space where we as women talk about our needs, how can we claim on our reproductive rights”, shares Shukhmani, Program manager, Haiya.

I was amazed and happy at the same time that the women are coming out leaving their comfort zone, not accepting the normative structures and are reclaiming their rights.

It’s rightly said that ‘the best is kept for the last’. So after all the speakers had their word the widely renowned Queer Feminist Activist Pramada Menon set the stage on fire. She threw light on the overused flamboyant term ‘safe sharing spaces’ – she asked whether the so called safe space include hizra, transgender or sex worker? Another thing to ponder was most of the speakers talked about gender and feminism with respect to women- nobody included men or any other gender! None talked about challenges and pressures experienced by men because of their gender.
Key note by Pramada Menon
She explained how ‘Gender and Sexuality movement’ has been regressive through years, activists before her advocated for the same, she with her immense experience also advocated about it and now even the younger people working on gender talk about the same aspect- she introspects where all this is leading to? Another important point I grabbed from her note was that we all need to know the history of the Feminist movement as now we can openly talk about gender and sexuality as it happened in this event but there was a time when these issues were tabooed (at many places they are still not talked about) and it is after lot of efforts and struggle of people we have got this space to take forward the movement. Along with this, she suggested that all the young people who are working on the same cause should come together and take the state with the movement! She was concerned that young people are repeating the same mistake of making their ‘own kingdoms’ instead of coming together to fight against the demons- the mistake which they also made!

Last but not the least she in her own magnificent style stated that we should not be in the illusion that we are changing the world; we are changing our own world because we are threatened that this can happen to us also!! “And in this process of making our world better place, if few people can benefit then we should be happy” I just loved the honesty and rawness with which she shared her experience.

A lot of our work is derived from CREA, so sharing the space and the stage with Pramada ji was empowering, encouraging and motivating! There was bubbling collaborative energy where in people were coming in and asking about possibilities of working together. The openness with which Haiya and Gender pages (an initiative by Fellows of YP foundation) showed interest in collaboration added more joy to us. 

It’s interesting to see that the small steps we are taking towards social change actually are quite big when seen in the larger ecosystem. I felt that the event was a great amalgamation of young and experienced people coming on a common platform and giving new energy to the change we aspire to see :-)

Couldn’t agree more

“You know you’re on the right track when you’re not interested in looking back”   

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