Gender equality is the measurable equal representation of women and men, not implying women and men are the same. But, that they have equal value and should be treated equally. Whereas, women's empowerment can be defined as promoting women's sense of self-worth, their ability to determine their own choices, and their right to influence social change for themselves and others.
To celebrate the 16 days of Activism, starting from November 25 (the international day of the elimination of violence against women) till December 10 (human rights day), Men Against Violence and Abuse – MAVA and Bodhana have pioneered efforts in India to engage Boys and Men to address issues of gender inequality and discrimination by interrogating the existing dominant model of masculinity, and help stop prevent gender-based violence against women.
MAVA, in collaboration with Bodhana, is doing a project named Maanush that is mentoring 30 young men from across Assam on gender and gender-related issues.
A film screening was conducted by MAVA and Bodhana on December 6, Monday in collaboration with the History department of Cotton University. Two short movies were screened: Jonaki Poruwa and The Woman (Vo Aurat). A brief introduction was followed by the screening, which led to a discussion on both the movies screened.
In the interactive session with the students, there was an overwhelming outpouring of ideas and perspectives. These were movies based on lived experiences, something women and transgenders go through in their day-to-day lives. Thus, the screening and the discussion essentially helped the participants to view movies through a critical, curious, and more empathetic vision.
Moreover, one of the mentees believed these are issues, be it patriarchal oppression or any form of violence that persists in society, which is very much a part of their academic curriculum. However, when it comes to raising a voice against such atrocities, where there lies a question of humanity, co-existence, and harmony, dissent and activism is found somewhere lacking. As if their whole education is confined to mere classrooms. Thus, with the conviction that films could prove to be an effective medium to sensitize people about the reigning problems of a society, the mentees thought of coming up with this screening.
On November 25, a Mid Night Walk was organised in three different locations in Amguri, Barpeta, and Bokakhat. Women and girls joined to build a community where women can roam, sing, act, love, and share, exist and access the night free of uncomfortable gazes that restrict them to 'supposed' limitations.
Men Against Violence and Abuse – MAVA, is a voluntary registered organization based in Mumbai and was established in the year 1993. It has been working for the past 28 years to stop and prevent gender-based violence against women by engaging young men and women in colleges. MAVA recently collaborated with Bodhana, an Assam-based NGO that works on WASH and gender issues in the northeast of India.
It is working towards building a movement that explores the role of men as 'partners' and 'stakeholders' – addressing gender issues through cultural advocacy, direct intervention, and youth education initiatives.
On the coming 10th of December, Maanush Assam is organizing a cycle rally from Bokakhat to Kohora and a list of events planned with which they will end the 16 days of Activism.