Gender Mela with a Difference
Gender ki Kayapalat (turning it upside down)
Mela with a difference as young people will be unraveling the issue of gender through discussions and cultural performances
New Delhi, 10 Feb 2016: The three days Gender Mela or fest by MenEngage Delhi scheduled to be held at Miranda House, University of Delhi from 11 February, 2016, will prove to be a game changer at many levels with boys and men standing shoulder to shoulder with girls and women to question and bust the many myths and stereotypes that presently prevail on gender.
For starters, it is being held at Miranda House, University of Delhi, a premier women’s college that has set many benchmarks over the last 68 years and constantly reinvented itself to keep pace with contemporary developments. Having enabled its students to engage with the many complex concerns on gender, girls’ safety and related concerns, it is now walking the talk by hosting a Mela where young people will be unraveling the many concepts and ideas around gender through discussions, debates, nukkad natak, concerts etc.
Apart from exploring the possibility of strengthening the process of peer learning, the young people are also developing games on breaking gender stereotypes and evening music programmes reinforcing the theme of equality by groups like Goonj, DhruvViswanath and Loknaad will also add to the myriad of activities. Speaking about the event, Akash, a youth volunteer associated with CFAR-Wajood initiative on stopping domestic violence, went on to emphasize that is the mela is, “one way of connecting with youth in different parts of the city so that we stop being by-standers and do our bit to better to improve gender equality.”
Speaking on behalf of Women’s Development Cell, Miranda House, Ms. Bijayalaxmi Nanda, said that they “welcome this initiative at it will provide young people with much-needed space to bond with their peers, set new learning goals, explore multiple issues, clarify their values and last but not the least do all of this with the necessary support and guidance from faculty and experts.”
The genesis of this initiative goes back to November 2014, when a series of campaigns were witnessed by the city in the run-up to the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium – Men and Boys for Gender Justice – that was organized by MenEngage Global; an alliance of 600 member groups from around the world that are working on issues of gender with men and boys along with UN organizations and the Delhi-based NGO, Centre for Health and Social Justice.
The high profile symposium had heads of international organizations and governments converging on Delhi along with 1200 participants from as many as 95 countries. Explaining the purpose of this initiative, Satish Kumar Singh, Additional Director, CHSJ, stated that “The Delhi Declaration and Call to Action issued by the global symposium had laid out directions for the greater involvement of men and boys. In keeping with its spirit, advocacy has been deepened and intensified to move beyond awareness raising to providing opportunities for action for change through the creation of a network, MenEngage Delhi (MED). This alliance has brought together universities and other groups to come up with a space such as the Gender Mela.”
He went on to add that MenEngage Delhi’s ‘masculinities clubs’ are forming across colleges and universities in Delhi, with 10 colleges and universities and numerous civil society organizations being part of the Action Network, which was endeavoring to reach out to various youth led rights campaigns, that had recently emerged like; OBR, ‘Happy to Bleed’, the ‘Rohith Vemula Campaign’ and ‘the North-eastern Rights Campaign’.
Talking about the One Billion Rising (OBR) Campaign which began in 2012 at the same time as the Nirbhaya incident, Kamla Bhasin stated that this is the Fourth Year that One Billion Rising is campaigning against patriarchy and violence against women and girls in over 200 countries of the world with the catch phrase NO to Love of Power and a big YES to the Power of Love.
Speaking about OBR, she went on to add that, “OBR is an alliance of people who abhor violence, injustice and inequality and share a vision of a world where there is no gender war and a guarantee of equality for all.”
Taking this forward, Rituparna Borah from Nazariya said “Nazariya looks at gender beyond the binaries of male and female so it’s important to be part of campaigns like MenEngage Delhi and others where opportunities like the Gender Mela are created that are an important site for talking about gender and masculinities with a queer lens. Gender mostly means ‘women’ to many people and that leaves out many other people in a large way, be it men or trans people.”
Agreeing with this, Manak Matyani, Y. P. Foundation stated that: “It is crucial to create spaces for young people to share, reflect and lead personal and social transformation. The gender mela is one such space to inspire thoughtful, feminist youth leadership that rejects oppressive patriarchal norms and violence. A college is the best space for this to be housed, not just as an event, but as a long term and continuous process of learning and leadership led by young people to create a discrimination free world.”
“CEQUIN believes that it is vital to engage men and boys in the journey towards gender equality. We have been doing that through our various initiatives like ‘WOWMEN Awards’, ‘Agents of Change work shops’ and our student led campaign ‘Kickstart Equality’. The MenEngage platform has provided an excellent opportunity for organizations like ours to come together and carry this forward collectively.” Lora Prabhu from CEQUIN