The six-month programme titled Gender Status – Equality and Justice, which begins on Monday, aims to assist women to empower themselves.

Learning about self through life experiences Kudumbashree Missions new programmeFile Photo
news Women's Rights Sunday, January 13, 2019 - 16:35

Gender equality is not a concept that is well-absorbed by women themselves. Gender equality and empowering themselves could be alien concepts, at least for some women, for they have been conditioned to live a certain way for years, and thinking beyond it is odd even for themselves. Some women haven’t been even able to realise when they were subjected to any kind of atrocity or harassment.

The Kudumbashree State Mission has come out with an awareness programme for women titled Gender Status – Equality and Justice, as the fourth phase of its women empowerment self-learning process. The concept is to create an environment for women to learn what empowerment is for themselves and how they should learn to recognise suppression, vulnerability and more.

A book with 30 chapters has been prepared for the self-learning process. The chapters are in the form of stories, including real-life experiences, that will be shared or read out during the weekly meetings of the neighbourhood groups, the basic units of the Kudumbashree Mission. There will be a facilitator for the self-learning.

“It’s like learning from their own experience rather than someone teaching them. The stories in the book comprise mostly of life experiences. For example, what a woman should do when her husband wants a third child while she is not prepared or healthy enough for it. In the self-learning process, we provide space even to discuss that,” Kudumbashree Mission Executive Director S Harikishore told TNM.

The inauguration of the learning programme, which will last six months, is to be held on Monday in Thrissur. “As of now we can’t say what the outcome will be, it is not even measurable. The members will discuss their experiences and problems, gradually start looking at problems from a new perspective… start realising that they should no more be submissive, the importance of saying no when required… the urge for empowerment should come from within themselves, we are just facilitating it,” he added.

There are 2.77 neighbourhood groups under the Mission. As many as 2.77 lakh neighbourhood facilitators and 300 district level facilitators have been chosen from among the Kudumbashree members for the programme. The concept is that it would cover the 44 lakh members of the Kudumbashree Mission. The Kudumbashree Mission has been conducting a series of women empowerment and gender equality programmes since 2007. The previous programmes were Women and Labour, Women and Mobility, and Women and Health.

Soya Thomas, State Programme Manager of the State Kudumbashree Mission, said, “The whole process starts with the question – who am I? And the idea is to assist women to identify their own identity. The learning is not for the women only, but through them it aims to reach the families of the 44 lakh women, especially the young, both men and women.”

Workshops on the self-learning have been organised at schools and colleges prior to the beginning of the programme. Soya added, “Why now is not solely because of the current social environment, when gender equality is discussed like never before, but also based on the thought – why atrocities are not stopping and why women are always the victims. The facilitators will help the women analyse the very term ‘atrocity’ through stories and others’ life experiences.”

The weekly sessions will also discuss injustice, denial of rights and inequality. There will be more than 20 topics for discussion. From realising their rights and needs, the programme is also to learn about the lives of the transgender community, the elderly and the marginalised.

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