Ek Saath Abhiyan’ (to engage men and boys for active partnership to change gender discriminatory norms). Within the period of the year 2016 to 2019 more than four thousand intensive mobilization programs for engaging men and boys in 100 districts of 10 states with the alliance of 100+ community based organizations have been implemented so far. Target is to reach up to 50 lakh people in 15 states (UP, MP, Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, HP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh) with engaging 25000 Samanta Saathis and 250 mentors to be trained intensively within five years.
Man Ek Darpan Training Manual was developed for mentors of Ek Saath Campaign that is being implemented with young boys at grass root levels mostly in villages and urban communities. This manual is developed in Hindi and Bangla languages which is implemented in a very easy language and a practical manner. This manual covers following twenty topics: Concept of Gender, Burden of Work, Gender Based Division of Work, Equity and Equality, Privileges and Prohibitions, Access to Resources and Control, Equal Opportunity and Participation, Domestic Violence, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Sexual Exploitation, Sex Selective Termination of Pregnancy, Abusive Languages and Sexist Jokes, Laws related to Sexual Harassment, Socialization of Masculinity, Impact of Masculinity on Men and Women, Masculinity and Social Institutions, Biological Identity and Diversity, Sexual Rights, Right to Choose of Companion and Sexual Rights and Related Myths.
FELICITATION OF MALE CHANGE MAKERS – EK SAATH CAMPAIGN
Samanta Saathis who successfully completed a year-long training under the Ek Saath National Campaign were felicitated in state-level adhiveshans or symposiums held from December 2019 onwards. The adhiveshans were occasions for the Samanta Saathis (the campaign’s male gender equality champions) to share their individual and community level stories of change, the challenges they face, and their learnings. They were accompanied by their mentors who are guiding and supporting them.
Samanta Saathi Ranjan Shaw from West Bengal who is a student and also works as a tuition teacher, shared how after listening to the campaign’s audio drama training modules and holding discussions in his Ek Saath group he started feeling disturbed about the absence of girls and women from public places particularly from the many community level sports and activity clubs that are present across the state. “I took the initiative to ensure that sports trainings are organized for girls also in the New Abhijan Club with which I am associated and now girls too play football and cricket in the field which was never seen earlier,” says Shaw. Chandan Nagar in Rajasthan has been motivated to protest against early marriage and its impact on girls’ education. Both he and his sister Deepa had been married when they were minors, and after joining the campaign Chandan persuaded his parents to let Deepa stay at home and study as long as she wanted rather than sending her to her in-laws. “I also made them agree to postpone calling over my wife who is in her parents’ home and studying there. Though at the time I had not protested against the norm of early marriage, after joining the campaign I realised I should withstand the family pressure to make the girls stop their education,” shared Chandan. Samanta Saathis who completed a year’s training under the campaign received certificates as encouragement during the adhiveshans.
The campaign is working to transform gender discriminatory social norms through engaging male youth as equal partners for gender justice. It is continuing into its third year, being rolled out in 87 districts of eight states of India. A pool of 100 male mentors trained on issues of gender and masculinities have been actively engaging with 10,000 male change agents. Each mentor has been working with 100 change agents in his community, helping them to change norms at their individual level and also encouraging them to take community actions.
During the 16 Days of Activism period in 2019 the Samanta Saathis and the campaign’s partner organisations joined in carrying out hundreds of events promoting gender rights and the role of men and boys on the issue. A series of posters called ‘Men Are Changing’ showcasing the work of selected Samanta Saathis has also been produced and widely disseminated. A campaign ‘Bystander No More’ was launched in response to horrific incidents of violence against women that took place in November-December 2019.