People for Parity recently held 2 workshops on gender in collaboration with the Delhi Police for their newly appointed women constabulary. Through some lively discussions, brave confessions and uplifting activities, the individuals behind the uniform slowly began to emerge and showed to us their powerful human sides.
Mona, who co-facilitated the workshop with Arushi, shares some beautiful glimpses from her experience below:
“Police are corrupt”, “Criminals are not punished by police”, “Police harasses women” and many more are the common things to hear from public towards police. “We work day and night for public”, “We are always ready to help anyone who complains”, “We don’t receive any appreciation from public and they always judge us” and many more are the things police shares about public. Amidst these 2 extreme sides revolving around the police force, we at People For Parity attempted to break the existing stereotypes around police and work with them to build their capacity to be “Gender change makers” through this gender intervention. With this dream in our heart, we worked deeply in implementing a gender intervention for young Delhi Police women constables.
Before the 3 day workshop, personally, I was feeling a mixed rush of emotions of nervousness and excitement also, because I was getting to facilitate after 6 long months and doing all women participant workshop! We had 27 women police constables as participants for this workshop. The first day of the workshop was spent on working them through various processes to build their self-awareness and invite them to learn the power of authentic listening. We then dwelled with the concept of gender through a discussion after a film screening leading to them to share around 2 interesting questions- “What is that one thing that you would do if you were a man?” and “What is that one thing that you would not do if you were a man?” Out of all the responses, one response that will stay with me forever is, “If I was a man I will never eve-tease a woman!” With the build on gender discourse, they explored the presence of gender in everyday life in small groups. One of the responses that I remember was when one participant shared that, “Even, though I’m a women police constable; I feel hesitant to ask the male driver in a PCR van to take me to a nearby washroom.”
Heading for the second day for the workshop, the participants brought their openness and energy into the workshop space while, sharing with the group one gender stereotype they would like to break. A powerful response was when one of them shared that “I will not let my daughter face what I experienced” and “I will live freely”. Moving on, it was during the personal identity session that it seemed the participants felt as if they came back to themselves. Some of the beautiful sharing was, “I used to think that I don’t have any qualities. But, after doing this activity, I realized that I have so many qualities!” The dramatic session of this day was when the participants were invited to present role plays in groups on 4 themes- “Struggles of women”, “Dreams”, “Celebrations” and “Inspiring people in life” and the intention was to facilitate them to bring out a collective story of the group through the role plays. One of them was a very powerful role play where the story of a girl is shared who hails from a village. The girl was not wanted to be born and was blamed by everyone in the family to be responsible for her father’s death. She was all throughout her childhood seen as a bad omen! But, she promises her mother that one day she will fulfill her dream and finally, she becomes a police officer. This story brought out the experiences of ‘being a girl’, struggles, courage and living a distant dream. The emotions from this role play got beautifully transcended and tears rolled around the face of DCP ma’am who joined us in the workshop.
On the last day of the 3 day workshop; to facilitate them to see the leader in them; inspirational stories of women police officers namely Dr. Kiran Bedi and SO Ranjana Gupta from Jhansi were shared and providing them this opportunity to self-nominate to become change-makers in Delhi Police. Out of the 27 participants, 19 of them nominated them to pursue this leadership. The 3 day workshop ended with a fun holi celebration leaving all of us with a memory forever.
A week after we dwelled into a 2 day leadership workshop with 11 women police constables selected as change-makers in Delhi Police. The first day was spent on bringing self-awareness by deeply engaging with the concepts of judgments and empathy. We engaged in this through a blind-folded race with women carrying chits having various marginalized identities of women and moving ahead; back on questions of choice of education, marriage, children and life. From this the discourse on ‘judging others’ was dealt with leading to the need of empathy. The participants were invited to do role-play displaying empathy as police constables. One of the powerful role-play was when one of the participants played the role of a rape victim and she broke down displaying the empathy to the deepest sense.
Over the next day; we engaged in a much needed session on “Sexuality”. This session began with shy giggles; slowly getting to explore the comfort-discomfort around sexuality, openly talking about the tabooed words associated with “sex” and bringing an openness within everyone to talk about it.
It was 5 days of powerful, creatively stimulating, deeper and authentic facilitation engagement.
This wouldn’t have been possible without my co-voyager and facilitator, Arushi in this journey. I feel we came to know each other closely as people and the mutual sense of support, openness, authenticity, eccentric energies, empathy, courage and hard work brought things together! 🙂