Over 2000 young people throng the Gender Mela in Miranda House
New Delhi, 11 Feb 2016: The three days Gender Mela, organized by Miranda House, MenEngage Delhi and the One Billion Rising Campaign, with support from women and community groups, got off to a festive note with a cross section of young people expressing themselves in different ways.
A large turnout of students thronged the colorful stalls put up by organizations that are leading the gender equality campaign in Delhi. Messages and resource material on gender, particularly the importance of involving men and boys in gender issues, took centre stage amidst a carnival atmosphere. What particularly struck a chord among the youngsters were innovative T shirts by MenEngage Delhi saying, ‘This is Raju, Raju thinks mard to dard nahin hota, Raju is wrong, mard ko dard bhi hota hai, rona bhi aata hai and darr bhi lagta hai. Don’t be like Raju’
In yet another stall, young people from Saboli Khada, Kalyanpuri and Nangal Raya showcased an selection of media articles on violence against women which they had collated as part of their learning initiative. More importantly, the media articles helped to stimulate a purposeful dialogue among a cross section of young people. Speaking about this initiative, Sanjeevani a student from Nangal Raya said “It prompted us to brainstorm on what each one of us should do to stop violence against women.”
An inter-collegiate debate with participation from Jamia Millia Islamia, Motilal Nehru College, JNU, Jesus and Mary College, PG DAV and Lady Hardinge Medical College took students by storm.
Harshita Pandey, spokesperson of the Women’s Development Cell, Miranda House and organizer of the Gender Mela put it very aptly when she said: “We do not see it as a make believe event but as an expression of young women aspiring to live life on our terms and break age old gender stereotypes that small town girls like me have been subjected to and conditioned by while growing up.”
Inaugurating the Gender Mela, Dr. Pratibha Jolly, Principal, Miranda House, stated that the day had started off on a high note for her when she came across 12 year old Suraj from Kalyanpuri, who is part of a street theatre group that is contributing to changing attitudes on gender in the community.
Elaborating on this she added that: “Suraj is a symbol in more ways than one because he is telling us is that what finally counts is working on the ground because that is where we will confront the fault lines and also the insights that are necessary to find solution within our own framework. This is also the reason why a space like a College makes a huge difference”.
Kamla Bhasin, the intrepid social activist and the face of the One Billion Rising (OBR) Campaign across South Asia made it clear that, “Bending gender is the need of the hour’ for both girls and boys because men are the biggest beneficiaries of patriarchy as is evident in every institution and in the higher echelons of power. But there are also huge numbers of men who are losing out as much as women given the stereotypical definition of masculinity and the ridicule that men who do not fit into it are subjected to.”
Abhijit Das, Director, CHSJ, said “Women have to help men in acknowledging gender inequality by holding up a mirror in which men can look into and reflect on their masculine privileges.” He added that men must start take on the role of being partners in change while pointing out the fact that among the 17 SDGs, the ones on equality, justice and gender need to be acted upon to ensure a firm base for gender equality.
Other speakers were Ms. Rukmini Rao, noted gender specialist, Ms. Rakhee Bakshi, senior journalist and Ms. Smita Khanijow.
The evening was rounded off with a performance by the Sufi Rock band Goonj