Dil officers or Life Skills trainer films the Life Skills sessions. A team of CAP consultants watch the footage, collate feedback and upload to the training blog. We also Skype with Life skills trainers for one one one feedback and debrief.
Feedback of Orangi school that has worked through eight weeks of Life Skills sessions and implemented a community action plan.
Primary message: Impact of Eve Teasing on girls and their education
Secondary message: equality of genders
Topic: Eve Teasing is defined as any act that intimidates a girl or a woman as she makes her way to school or work. Here, the children are specifically referring to incidents they have encountered personally where they have witnessed the impact of the harrassment of girls as they make their way in the public space.
Feedback on videos sent by trainer of students presenting roleplays and feedback:
First off, it was a well thought out action plan. The kids came prepared in sharing the content via role play and was also evident through the speech given by the student.
The two messages (primary and secondary) were conveyed well through role play. The audience took it well and understood the impact as was evident from the crowd participation.
Observing this as an outsider I noticed a few critical things:
1. The students and the audiences’ understanding of the problem was clear, however, the message seemed very one-sided. The overall message I got was that the girls should have the courage and face the problem of eve teasing head on, involve adults or other members of the community they trust, engage local legal authorities, etc. Not to take away from what the girls can do, but there was a missed opportunity here to highlight the role and responsibilities of the boys. The boys play a pivotal role in the lives of these girls. They are brothers, friends, colleagues, etc. What are their responsibilities? What can they do to make an impact? What action plan did they have? Can they form a group to protest against such behavior? Can they be the voice of the community to show they believe in gender equality? Can they raise awareness around respect?
2. The reflection clip was quite good. Somia did a good job of reflecting on the challenges and the learnings from the whole exercise. However, I have the following observations which I believe can be further worked upon:
a. Only girls were participating. When occasionally the boys were participating they were making either irrelevant or silly comments.
b. No extra efforts were made to engage the boys or reflect on the learnings
c. Although this is a very much an issue for girls, through this activity we can inspire boys to take more of a lead role. If the boys stand up with the girls to fight this issue it will carry a lot more weight – especially for this community.
d. I was left feeling that the girls are once again left alone fighting for their rights and pushing all boundaries to make a mark for themselves. The action would have been more impactful, had it been shared from both the gender perspectives.
3. There were little moments during the reflection clip which could have been potential opportunities to pick apart the problem and have a thoughtful deep dive discussion. For example, at the beginning of the video a boy made the comment on how he enjoyed the “Nara bazi” or the protest part. The facilitator was quick to label that as great acting job and hastily moved on to the next student. Not only was that dismissive, but also a lost opportunity to understand why that aspect was most enjoyable. Was it really the acting part that was fun or because it is such a serious issue that protesting is pivotal and impactful?
4. Another missed opportunity was when a girl commented on how pleased she was when the boys decided to participate after the chat with another teacher. Though tricky to tackle, but there could have been a conversation around why it was so difficult for them to participate in the first place and what made them change their minds? Was this a pity performance, or let’s get it over with, or did they truly find the courage to acknowledge and support the cause? What were their objections?
Best practices from other programs between 2014 to 2017 :
How to identify other opportunities for exploration:
Who are the individuals doing the eve teasing and what are their motivations?
Why does eve teasing exist: Why do boys tease girls on their way to school? Is that their only means of interaction with a female? Are these boys from the same school or are they boys who go to male only schools? Are they aware that she may drop out school as a result? Could the boys have offered to lead the discussion and talk about creating a support group? Did the trainer give them that opportunity? In one school we led a community action on eve teasing in 2015 the boys suggested that they create a team of boys willing to escort girls to school and back, walking at a safe distance in order not to offend parents. At another school the boys wanted to create a tast force of boys and girls who would counter harrass boys who target girls and make them feel unsafe. I liked a third response where the fathers of girls in Rawlakot kashmir suggested talking to the local mosque leaders to include instructions in friday sermons to ensure safe passage for girls on their way to school. This message was repeated every week for six weeks and the gatherings were reminded that stepping out to go to school if you are harrassed or teased is an act of courage that must be supported. Boys were encouraged to take an active part in defending girls and women from commentary and the entire community was encouraged to report any offenders. A fourth and excellent suggestion came from a head teacher who said most of society still believed sending girls to school inessential so most parents felt it was ok to let their daughter stay home if she felt harrassed, infact encouraging her to protect her virtue and boasting about her decision to drop out, rather than tackling the root cause which to her eyes was more about boys who were unused to seeing girls in the street unchaperoned and felt it was just the moment to pounce and do the naughty subversive thing; speak to a female unchaperoned which is something that individual may never have experienced. This may not even be an aggressive act, it may just be an act meant to satisfy a natural curiousity. We then held an interesting session on gauging the impact of your words and actions on others, and not giving in to selfish urges to act or react if we can potentially harm someone, and in this case, prevent girls from going to school.
Earlier this year, when we led a training on lifeskills for librarians and art teachers in orangi two groups of young teachers spoke vehemently on the topic, so there was a wasted opportunity here to get teachers involved alongside students and perhaps invite those teachers to the final presentation or have those same teachers validate the students' views or speak of their own coping strategies and how they persevered. When students bring up a topic like eve teasing, the trainer might want to reflect on who in her immediate circle can help out. Since we want community action to be a multi pronged activity that taps into our local networks, the trainer should connect the dots, and think along these lines: 'Hey, our own teachers presented on this topic just a few months ago during Fatima's lifeskills training, Sarah was there too...let me see if any of them can give me some advice or tips to help me grow the discussion. Maybe Sarah or Fatima have some videos or tools I can use."
We have videos of young teachers showing how they needed to be resilient but how they needed the men and the fathers and brothers, husbands and fiances to take responsibility.
They spoke of how they needed society to move away from a narrative of blame aimed at them as women for attracting attention. They were asking not to be told you attract attention just because you step out of the house. They touched quite pointedly at the way men abdicate responsibility to protect women despite enjiying power in a patriarchal society. They spoke of the way they are silenced if they dare to raise the topic and asked to lead a community or radio campaign where the behaviour of women is not being examined but rather the behaviour of the teasers is being labelled as bullying at best and examined on other levels, and condemned as unacceptable.
The role plays instead lay all the responsibility on women to continue yo soldier on, to remain resillient, to ignore or persevere despite this treatment.
The trainer needs to say at that point: but how can we get towards our ideal scenario? Infact what is our ideal scenario?
Dare we dream of a world where girls are safe to walk to school, a period of time where men have to reign themselves in and avoid pouncing on girls when they find them unchaperoned? What would it take yo get to that world?
This is where the trainer would discuss stakeholders and influencers:
Who does your father listen to? Who does your uncle or brother respect? Whose advice would they heed? Because the trainer is from the same community in most cases, she would have a fairly well-informed view of the situation including who listens to who.
Students in one school in Orangi also wanted to discuss the fact that as brothers or friends they may want to defend their fellow students from the predatory gaze or comments of local boys but they harboured a well-founded fear: that the aggressors or someone they know may be guilty of gutka-abuse and may have a knife or a gun handy. How do we keep ourselves safe had been their question, but it had emerged too late in the session and it was time for presentations. Still, even though we were unable to tackle the issue, the use of violence and how to safe gaurd oneself and ones loved ones from being drawn into difficult situations must be part of a trainers priority. It can be discussed as part of consequences when one is using a problem solving model.
Good job team Dil_Cap!!
We are moving towards a living breathing training document using examples of our own work to learn from.