Humari bhi suno na…
The women’s empowerment program’s main focus has been to challenge gendered social norms within communities by building robust community support systems. These support systems consists of men, women, young girls and boys. One section of this demographic composition is children, who participate in our programs and are aware of the happenings in the community. This campaign was particularly aimed at amplifying their voices in the community. Children are vulnerable and are often silent victims of Domestic Violence. The impact that this violence has on their mental health has been proven to affect them until adulthood. Hence, we felt that it was crucial to involve their voices in dealing with Domestic Violence.
Activities were conducted with 900 children across all communities in Mumbai. They participated in a game called “Saap sidi (snakes and ladders)”, (It is similar to a game of snakes and ladders. The only change in this: wherever there are positive gender norms the ladder takes you forward and wherever there are negative gender norms, the snake takes you down.) This activity set the stage for conversations around gender stereotypes and the impact it has on lives of women and girls.
Our next engagement was through art, where children expressed different kinds of discrimination and violence at home and the community, that they have witnessed and/or been victims of. These pictures gave us a fairly clear idea of how children experience/perceive violence of different forms. We have continued to maintain conversation with children in different ways and increased their participation. We plan to take this initiative forward by strategically addressing their issues by forming children’s groups in the communities and bringing their voices forward as a collective.