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Swati Maheshwari is a facilitator-volunteer with People for Parity. Read about Swati’s experience at one of our gender sensitization workshops at IIT Roorkee; a day long workshop with over 250 participants from the university.

We are the products of our environment and sadly in our Indian society, we grow up seeing the radical inequality that exists between men and women. While daughters are taught to be sober and to be subdued, sons are taught to take control of things. Daughters are taught that they should behave properly and decently in front of males, but sons are not told, that no matter what a girl wears, no matter how she behaves, they have to be in control of themselves and behave themselves.

When boys feel that the women in their houses itself are inferior, when they do not respect the women they have been with since childhood, how can they respect other women in the society? So when we grow up and look at our society we hardly find anything wrong with the way women are treated. So what if girls have an earlier “in-time”? So what if it is only women who are responsible for household chores? They are “women’s works”. There’s nothing wrong with it. When a man does something which is not strong enough for his manhood, we say that he should wear bangles. Is there anything wrong with it? No, because bangles signify women and women are “supposed” to be weaker.

And, that’s why gender sensitization is the crying need of today and organizations like PFP are a great push to the thought process of today’s generation.

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We recently had a workshop for Gender Sensitization in IIT Roorkee where I co-facilitated Aditya which was attended by undergraduates in their first and second years; who have just stepped out of their homes and had varying opinions, but weren’t hard core “believers”. They were ready to imbibe and appreciate new thought.

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We started with fun activities so that the participants could share the same level of enthusiasm and energy as ours. We set the momentum of our workshop by video presentations (created by Must Bol) which were very persuasive and set the right mood. We then started with the AGREE-DISAGREE-NOT SURE activity. Participants were given an issue and were asked for their stand on it. We got a tremendous response and even the shyest of all were not hesitating to speak their minds. The best part was that we weren’t trying to impose our viewpoints on them but rather put up cross questions to make they themselves feel what is right. Finally, we divided them in groups where they were given a situation and were asked how they would react, would they be a mere bystander or take the onus and do something about it. And they all came up with wonderful ideas and suggestions and few also shared their personal experiences and how they tackled it. The best part was some of them came to us to know more about the organization and showed their willingness to join or open a cell in IIT Roorkee for the same. That was really encouraging.

It was an enriching experience and I would be very glad if the initiative of ours could bring even a small change to the society. 🙂



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