A young man’s journey transformation into a gender activist
My name is Susheel Yadav. I am a 23 year old unmarried man and student of M.A. final year and a part time worker in a computer training center. I live alone in Jaunpur city during the working days and visits home on Sundays and other holidays. I have a sister, mother, father in the family.
I have remained an active member of the men’s group formed under the Multi Country project on working with Men and Boys for ending violence against women supported by UN Trust Fund in Uttar Pradesh, India. Under the project, the men’s groups from 20 selected villages of two districts of UP received intensive training on gender, masculinity, violence and sexuality with a focus on men’s role and experiences in a gendered society. These men’s groups were then organized to meet regularly to discuss and relate these learning with the village realities and transfer the same to other men and key persons in the village. The men’s groups were further engaged in organizing campaigns in the villages against gender based discrimination and violence against women.
I had never given a thought to the issues of gender before attending the training. After spending three days in the first training I understood that these things happen in all our families and we never notice them because they are small issues of daily life. I had many questions in the beginning but I got all the answers from the training. I remained curious and active in the following discussions with the men’s group. Later I made a special request to join in the training with adults which gave me a deeper understanding on the subject since the adults’ experiences were more intensive as compared to youth.
I started washing my own clothes. Then on Sundays I went home and helped in cleaning the house.
I thought that people used to exploit women thinking that these women are not in a position to retaliate. But the situation has been changing gradually because now there is a law to support women in their fight against violence. Sushil can see the impact in his community after the awareness on violence against women and the ‘law on violence against women’ (PWDV Act, 2005). The dowry deaths and other such violence would reduce if women make themselves useful in the eyes of the perpetrators by studying and earning high.
Susheel’s sister was not expected to continue study after completing intermediate because this would need her to travel to Jaunpur. But I talked to the family and even though they didn’t permit, I got her admitted in the degree college in Jaunpur. I bought a bicycle and trained her to ride it. Now my sister has been continuing her study and I am also helping her in planning a career as beautician. I got this spirit from the gender training only. Now I don’t consider it necessary that a woman will always depend on her husband or brother for everything. I expect my sister to become independent and train other women in the community to do the same. I along with my sister are also working in an effort to develop a Women’s Group in the village that would deal with various issues of women in the village.
I have found remarkable change in the excitement for higher studies among young girls and some of their family members in the village. Many girls have gone out to Jaunpur for doing graduation in the last session.
I succeeded in a similar effort with my maternal uncle who was not ready to send his young daughter to a distant private school. He was of the opinion that she won’t be able to handle it and also that girls need not study so well. He wanted her to study in the local medium in the village school. After repeated counseling by me, the uncle agreed and sent the daughter to the better school.
Among other initiatives, I have talked to the Gram Pradhan for getting some widows the benefit of widow pension. I have also made effort to get and a new born girl in the neighbourhood the benefit of the ‘Laadli Scheme’.
- Tags: UN Trust Fund