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India peer-learning workshops
The India CSO Strengthening Program saw significant outcomes – from organizations learning about successful approaches from other organizations in the peer-learning workshops, to shifting consciousness on the individual level that led to improved practices, relationships and program planning, all of which led to significant change.
“After coming here, I got to know about all the other organizations. I really like the fact that so many organizations are working for the equality and rights of women. I had no idea that so many people sit together and plan together to make a change in the work that they do, I’ve see this happen for the first time.” (Children’s Parliament)
“Through this workshop, I learned about different organizations and their change projects. I hope that a day will come in our lives when there will be equality among men and women.” (HUL)
“This [ALP]… helped me at two levels: one, it helped me asses where I stand vis à vis gender equality, and two, it helped me assess whether my organization is prepared to work on gender issues.” (Children’s Parliament)
“After the three-day Workshop I can re-evaluate our change project at both levels (personal and organizational) and find that we can make it achievable.” (MASVAW)
The Participating Partners (2007-2009)
• Dalit Sthree Sakthi (DSS) promotes Dalit rights
• Udaan advocates for equality, diversity and citizenship within their learning systems
• HUL advocates for the rights of Adivasi (Tribal group)
• Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women (MASVAW) is a network of organizations in which men work to break down traditional, patriarchal values and stereotypes around men’s behaviour and roles within the cultural context of India
• Bosco Seva Kendra and Child Rights Advocacy Foundation seek to engage youth in some of the poorest communities in participatory democracy through the formation of Children’s Parliaments. By setting up a gender ministry in each parliament, the organizations' change project aims to create new cultural norms that value girls within the Children’s Parliament, as well as in schools and homes.
Peer-learning workshop outcomes
Learning from each other
Already a network of North Indian men committed to gender equality, MASVAW modeled the possibility to transform even the most entrenched patriarchal cultural norms. The members of MASVAW aim to lead by personal example. In the peer-learning workshops, MASVAW provided a mirror for how organizations may have gender-equal policies in place but may not have changed the thoughts and behaviours embedded in the culture of both the organization and the community. The team from MASVAW, and their stories of personal struggle in attempting to break gender stereotypes, were inspirational for the teams from HUL and Udaan. It made these two organizations think about their own roles and commitment as agents of change vis à vis their gender roles and the positions their organizations have taken.
HUL was just starting up as an organization doing advocacy for Adivasi (a tribal group), and establishing its gender programming and policies at the same time, when they joined the CSO Strengthening Program. Since Hul is the newly formed "movement wing" of Pajra, a network of CBOs and CSOs, its goal was to "develop up" its new gender programming, hoping that learnings from the Gender at Work process would influence Pajra and its other network partners as well.
Streamlining gender into new democratic systems
The Children’s Parliaments introduced a gender minister, and gender training for the team, with the goal of integrating gender into all aspects of their democratic system. The inclusion of gender at the outset created a new norm whereby women's and girls’ issues would always be part of the process; children learned that addressing gender issues is integral to the effective achievement of democratic principles. The impact of the gender ministers is the long-term insistence that girls get into positions of leadership from where they can better transform unequal gender norms.
Building Individuals into Agents of Change
Members of the India program change teams experienced shifts of consciousness that led to a deeper understanding of how gender norms permeate and affect all aspects of organizational and societal culture. With this insight, the change teams were able to change themselves, to model change for others and to work towards engendering shifts of consciousness in the larger picture -- within their organizations and within the communities they serve.
“ I feel that it is myself first who needs to change, then the organization members need to change and then only can we expect the community at large to change.” (HUL)
“So long I thought I was quite gender sensitive, particularly with regard to my dealings with my team members. But the interaction the workshop provided me with my colleagues made me realize that-
1. I do make comments or pass judgments, which hurt members
2. My use of power and position has not been an enabling factor for my team members.
I have a greater understanding on the concept of ‘outcome.’ And the need for me to be focused on ‘outcome,’ which is change in behavior and action in case of gender- a new insight I can take back.” (HUL)
“… When and why I have felt powerful or powerless, do I feel guilty to have exercised power even if it for something good/necessary for the program. Have I ever made someone feel powerless (need to be thinking on this). Finding answers to these questions will help me grow and help me help others grow.” (Udaan)