Friday, 5 January 2018

Building Feminist Leadership: 2 days, 3 organizations, 150 women and an empowering collaboration!

The last workshop of our 2nd intervention with the women from various self groups in Baghpat was strikingly different, as it marked a huge collaboration with three different organizations Sahas Foundation, Deeprekha Samajik Sansthan and Baghpat district administration. Sahas has been working in collaboration with Baghpat district administration since July last year while with Deeprekha samajik sansthan our collaboration is close to a year. We know how later work but this was first time where we were gonna witness their work on the ground, naturally we were all very excited!

The session “Feminist Leadership” was about building women’s capacity on their skills so that they can explore diary making as of the employment option and also take charge of their financial situation. On the very first day, we reached block office in Pilana where about 70 women had gathered for the workshop. It was a very interesting and a new experience to see a training program on skill building. 

Shivani Bajpai from Deeprekha was facilitating this session, it was her first meet up with the women with whom we were engaging deeply for 2 weeks. She slowly built her connect by building conversation of self-help group, its structure, who is responsible for what, how is their experience being part of these groups. The way the session proceeded generated so much energy and excitement which translated in women who were then grouped to make diaries. These diaries are beautiful and handy, who would thought that apart from various nitty gritties it could be easy to make. The smile on the women faces were worth capturing J

It just made me more confident on the fact that when intentions are honest, nothing can stop in building the community with so much trust and ultimately leading to skill building in a village where women still find it difficult to get out of their homes even for utmost necessities.

Since both Sahas and Deeprekha samajik sansthan are gender organizations, it was a great opportunity to sit together and have conversations around each other’s work, learn from each other and engage in peer to peer learning. As an organization, we believe a lot in sharing our stories, conversations through social media so that people can understand and engage with us on gender issues, and seeing the kind of work Deeprekha samajik sansthan has been doing, we believe that they are brilliant in their work but it is not reaching out to many people. So we facilitated a session on importance of social media, how to share stories and conversations from the field, how to develop relationship with the viewers or followers on social media and also helped them to construct their Facebook page.

Shivani from Deeprekha samajik sansthan has deep knowledge of POCSO, and has been taking trainings on the same in various communities, organizations and government body, while we work on Child Sexual abuse hence she facilitated a session on understanding the Law. 

She first showed us clips from 2 films- Monsoon wedding and Highway where the victim/survivor is taking on with the offender, followed by the explanations on the basics and details of POCSO act. It was very engaging and overwhelming session for us, because we could reflect both on work as well as personal level- as in maybe there were situations where we had to pay attention but somehow due to lack of knowledge and understanding we neglected it easily. 

It also made us think more deeply about our own childhood, the children in our family and children living around us. The conversations began with the professional arena but it went to the personal roads and at one time all the boundaries dissipated where we became more aware, sensitive and determined to deal with child sexual abuse.

On the next day, we conducted the diary making session in Binaulli, the same place where we engaged with 65 women on the issues of Gender, gender based violence, sexuality and feminist leadership in July last year (our first intervention at Baghpat- so we were very excited to see our familiar participants). 

Here about 80 women had gathered for the workshop, the feel and atmosphere was totally different. It was very fascinating to see and co-facilitate with Shivani on diary making. There was altogether different curiosity, excitement and deep sense of competition to learn how to make diaries as it could be one of the potential source of earning. 

So we saw groups of 2, 3, 4,5 and many places single women trying their hands on making diaries, we finally had about 30 diaries in the span of 2 hours! It was like a mad house where women were running from here and there, collecting materials, sharing them, facilitators moving from one room to another, supporting them in various process.

The next part was crucial where the facilitator shared her feedback on the diaries, are they saleable, or there are things that could improve, and also appreciating them for their collaborative efforts. And as the session was reaching to its closure, Chadani Singh, Chief development officer, Baghpat entered, she was ecstatic to see the efforts invested by women, also invited their opinion on whether they would like to see dairy making as one of the opportunity of earning- to which women replied in “yes” and she immediately announced to open “Diary making centre”

It was wonderful to see a positive collaboration turning into reality where everyone’s effort translated into skill building of women from various self-help groups. It was definitely a step forward J