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Aug 5, 2019

Bharti Takes Control of her Life

Bharti is a 23 year old woman from Gangapur who has been a part of The Butterfly Project since 2017. This programme works with Dalit and Muslim girls from low income marginalised communities on issues of gender rights, discrimination and early and forced child marriage.

Bharti was married off when she was in the 5th standard, at the young age of 10. When she was in the 10th standard, despite her protests, she was sent off to her husband’s home in another village and they stopped her from studying any further. She was taunted everyday and treated very poorly by her in-laws. She also did not have any support from her husband.  She says she was not aware of any of her rights and assumed this was how things should be. Even though she has a son, she was not aware of her own body and how it worked and believed in many regressive myths about the same. Because of this lack of knowledge she was also not in control of her own body and choices related to her sexual health. 

In 2017, when Bharti started engaging in the Butterfly Project, she learned about her bodily rights and mechanisms, about gender discrimination, advocacy and laws and rights that apply to young women. Bharti left her abusive in-laws and learnt to advocate with government officials and disseminate information on issues of gender violence and rights, puberty, menstruation, livelihoods among many more. Bharti is now working with one of The YP Foundation’s partner organisations and has been involved in their work in ending child marriage, stopping gender discrimination and teaching young girls about their bodies and helping them with issues of puberty, contraception, safe sex etc. She is also working on attitude change towards adolescent girls and perspective building of the community to support their girls in their dreams and aspirations.

Your support has been instrumental in helping turn Bharti’s life around! Her and many like her are building their own lives and are happy because of this support!

Aug 2, 2019

Change Through Theater

“Why can we not go out of the house alone? Why do we have to give justifications even if we go out for a little while? Why do you trust the community but not your daughters? Are the boys/men who harass us not a part of the community? Why are they not taught better?”

On the 30th of July 2019, 12 young girls living in a low resource neighbourhood in Sunder Nagar Nursery in New Delhi put up a theater performance to engage their parents and other “adults” from their community in a dialogue on the needs and issues of young girls and other adolescents. The process of getting to this performance involved consistent group work, reflection, fights, fun and a lot of conversation. Their key concerns, were the restrictions put on girls, the limited approach to ensuring safety and their aspiration for freedom. 

These girls, along with some of their other friends, have been part of a leadership journey with The YP Foundation since April 2018. At The YP Foundation,  They have learnt creative theatrical communication to present their ideas, issues and problems to their families and community. They have been part of a human library, conducted safety walks, taken up surveys to understand the needs and aspirations of their friends and are finally ready to raise awareness and engage others in these issues on their terms. The process itself made the girls  open up, share their stories and use these to represent the direct and indirect forms of violence they experience. 

The goal of the workshop and engagement was to enable the girls to express and emphasize their needs, stories and issues to their families and communities. Most of the girls felt that they couldn’t bring up certain issues in front of their families because of backlash and judgement. However through the process and the final presentation, they were able to convey their worries and their problems to their families and the community they live in. These stories included cases of harassment, the restrictions they faced on their mobility especially not being able to leave the house alone or at night, as well as issues of mental health and stress. After the presentation, the girls also put questions to their audience and engaged in a lengthy discussion. The supportive reaction of the community and the parents was also heartening and encouraging for the girls.  For some of the parents this was a self realisation moment when they got to know about the particular concern their daughters face.The girls themselves were of the opinion that the process has helped them become less judgemental and more supportive towards their fellow participants as well.

Kareena, Sandhya, Kehkasha and their friends have been able to sensitize their communities and lead this dialogue thanks to supporters like you. As we continue this leadership journey with adolescent girl leaders in Sunder Nagar Nursery, we invite you to join in on social media. Thank you very much for the support and for your continued interest in our work!

May 6, 2019

'Agle sunday kitne baje aana hai?' (What time should come next Sunday?)

Sabita conducting an energiser before the session
Sabita conducting an energiser before the session

We have another story directly from one of our peer educators - Sabita. She is 22 years old and has recently completed her Bachelors Degree in Social Work. In the role of a peer educator, Sabita implemented sessions on sexual and reproductive health over a period of 10 months at an after school learning centre in Delhi with a cohort of 9-13 year olds. Here is her story.

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Imagine a tiny room, walls full of posters and drawings, a white board right in the front, mats in the center and small wooden stools lined up against the walls. This is where my co-fellows and I spent our Sunday afternoons discussing topics like gender, sex and violence with 19 little minds.

My first day at the centre's library was quite interesting, to be fair I wasn’t prepared for that day at all. I wasn’t expecting responses like “update” or “modify” when we first asked them about change. Every sunday was a challenge for me, no matter how many hours we spent before each session working on our plans, I knew it wasn’t enough. First few sessions were quite tough, it was difficult to try and contain all that information in two hours. I could see us struggling most days, but I also took it as a learning process. I recall the days we spent talking about reproduction and conception, the faces they made couldn’t be helped at first but later on they understood why we were discussing these topics. So much so, that we started expecting atleast one question after each session inside our little ‘Sawaal Samvad Peti’ (Question and Discussions Box).

After our fifth session, my co-fellows and I started thinking of all the questions that might come up. Because it wasn’t really a big batch, we tried to figure out who could say what and when. Some days were a hit, some were a miss. Not to say that all sessions weren’t my favorite, a few stood out than the rest. You know you’ve had a good session when these little minds can explain why consent is important or how the society puts us into different gender boxes and it is difficult to break out of them. Every sunday wasn’t an easy breeze though, some days the younger ones would only be interested in the games and not pay attention to the discussions and older ones would just zone out or lose interest. This came as a big challenge for us because we knew we’d have to come up with new ways to engage them all and this wasn’t going to be an easy task.

Green flag days were the best, these used to be ones where you’d see the shy kids responding, or the older ones helping the younger ones by giving them little hints here and there. We knew they enjoyed coming to the library every sunday to learn new things, watch videos and do fun activities. They’d hold onto the unanswered questions and point out topics themselves at the end of each session. You could see how they were thinking about our discussions, and applying them to their surroundings. For instance, they’d tell us about their conversations with friends from school and how frustrating it was for them. I could see the growth that was happening inside the room, not just for these little minds but also for us fellows. All in all, these sessions always kept us on our toes, they could surprise you anytime. The only times I was scared were when we skipped a day, and the little ones would scold us for not coming, the minute they entered the room and saw us.

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We would like to thank Sabita for sharing her experience with us and also express our sincere gratitude to you for continuing to support us and our work - Thank you so much!

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