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Youth Forums Against Gender Based Violence


Women's Issues
November 29, 2010

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Transcript of ICPRD-produced video for screening at November 29, 2010 panel discussion. Media Note»

TEXT: Youth forums against gender based violence: Promoting social and economic rights of women.

NARRATOR: Youth Forums Against Gender Based Violence is a growing mass movement of male youth for women’s rights. The Independent Commission for People’s Rights and Development, or ICPRD, a national NGO federation, initiated this innovative and pathbreaking movement, Youth Forums Against Gender Based Violence or YFAGBV, in 2004, 2005 in rural Karnataka and Rajasthan. Young men from low-income communities are combating violence against women at the household and community level. It is a unique methodology through which future male citizens are being transformed into promoters of social and economic rights of women, a project of its kind at the grassroots policy level.

DR. NANDINI ASAD, MEMBER-SECRETARY, ICPRD: ICPRD is an independent commission, a commission which has (inaudible) NGOs devoted to pro-poor advocacy and pro-gender issues. Gender equity to us is not a women’s issue. It has to be owned by the community, indeed by the nation at large. For us, from the women’s movement, it was a historic occasion when young men at the village level, shoulder to shoulder, began the long campaign for women’s rights.

NARRATOR: Young men from the age group 14-17 and 18-24 are mobilized in youth forums through cycle rallies, cricket matches, and street theater. The great success of the project in a short period has been largely due to the youth forums being trained in street theater and fusion imagery, which has emerged as a low-cost effective tool for mobilizing and creating awareness in low-income communities through mass campaigns.

The project has invested skills in master trainers, peer educators to evolve as grassroot pivots of the project organization and program strategy. These master trainers have become the key catalysts, informants, communicators, and coordinators of the project at the local level. Through various trainings and inputs given under the project, young men are now beginning to transform their perceptions regarding women and the rights of women. They have learned about gender, patriarchy, and different forms of gender-based violence, solving cases, referrals on legal matters or with panchayats, teachers, and police.

MAHADESHA S K, MASTER TRAINER, DISTRICT MYSORE: (In Hindi.)

TEXT CAPTION: ICPRD had organized an essay competition in Mahadesh’s school on Women’s Rights and Gender Equity. He was motivated to work on the issue and joined ICPRD as a Master Trainer. He has participated in several training workshops organized by ICPRD which has equipped him with the tools to fight gender discrimination.

NARRATOR: Not only are their perceptions changing, they’re also taking action at the community level to create awareness regarding women’s rights and to stop gender-based violence. Many of them, earlier eve teasers themselves, are now stopping verbal harassment of girls at bus stops and other public places. They are counseling their friends against eve teasing.

RAMESH N K, YOUTH FORUM MEMBER, VILLAGE TANDYA, DISTRICT RAMNAGARA: (In Hindi.)

TEXT CAPTION: Ramesh and his friends used to harass girls in their school and on the roads. After joining ICPRD he started to change and is now counseling his friends regarding violence against women.

NARRATOR: Addressing domestic violence.

N. HEMANT, MASTER TRAINER, DISTRICT RAMNAGARA: (In Hindi.)

TEXT CAPTION: In Menasinahalli village of Ramnagara district, Master Trainers organized an awareness campaign on domestic violence. Just three days later, they received a call from a Mrs. Mahadevamma that her husband is given to excessive drinking and she and her children face constant violence from him. Master Trainers spoke to the husband and counseled him regarding the ill effects of excessive drinking: it affects both physical and mental health, has a psychological impact on the family and one loses trust and respect of the community.

NARRATOR: Promoting girl child education.

NEELAMMA, STUDENT, 8TH STANDARD, BELAPUR SCHOOL, VILLAGE KUDANAHALLI, DISTRICT MYSORE: (In Hindi.)

TEXT CAPTION: Neelamma’s father was an alcoholic and did not allow her to go to school. ICPRD master trainers spoke to her father and explained to him why it was important for him to stop drinking and send Neelamma to school. Her father has now reduced his drinking. Neelamma goes to school and is very happy.

NARRATOR: Stopping dowry.

EKANTH KUMAR, MASTER TRAINER, DISTRICT BELLARY: (In Hindi.)

TEXT CAPTION: Ekanth faced the problem of dowry in his family when the prospective bridegroom of his sister demanded a huge dowry before the marriage. He spoke to him and the bridegroom’s family and convinced them that the marriage should take place without any give and take of dowry. His sister is now happily married.

NARRATOR: Stopping female feticide.

SURESHA K M, MASTER TRAINER, DISTRICT MYSORE: (In Hindi.)

TEXT CAPTION: In Hebbya village of Mysore, YFAGBV staged a street play on female foeticide. During the interaction session with the community, they learnt that a family in the village was planning to have their daughter in law’s pregnancy terminated as she was carrying a girl child. Youth forum members went to the family to talk to them but they would not listen. They then approached the Panchayat member. With his support and pressure on the family, the family agreed to allow their daughter in law to give birth to the girl child.

NARRATOR: Closing liquor shops.

V. JYOTHI, SELF HELP GROUP LEADER, SHANTINAGAR VILLAGE, DISTRICT BELLARY: (In Hindi.)

TEXT CAPTION: (Real Success Story Recreated) Illicit liquor was being solid in the heart of Shantinagar village inside the homes of two liquor sellers. This led to easy access to liquor for men who used to drink, get into frequent brawls and beat up their wives. The issue was raised at a self help group meeting. SHG members along with ICPRD youth forum members and School Development Monitoring Committee member of Shantinagar went to the owners of the liquor shops and first requested them peacefully to stop selling liquor. They then decided to take action. They staged a protest in front of the two liquor selling houses. The liquor sellers threatened the protestors with violence and abusive language. The matter was reported to the police. The Sub-Inspector of the area came and took stock of the situation. The community filed a written complaint at the police station. Fearful of police action, the liquor sellers have now stopped selling liquor in the village.

DEVENDRA K S, SUB INSPECTOR, BELLARY RURAL POLICE STATION: (In Hindi.)

TEXT CAPTION: The police will support ICPRD. If ICPRD continues to do this good work, it will benefit both the community and the society.

SEMANTH KUMAR SINGH, SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE, DISTRICT BELLARY: The NGOs and the police department come together in such issues. It’ll become a very worthwhile venture, because it’s selfless work which the NGOs are also doing and we are also doing because a lot of crimes will come down.

NARRATOR: The project has created a powerful alliance between young male advocates for gender equity and women microfinance groups at the local level. With this model, ICPRD has innovated a new product, gender-based violence linked to microfinance, a most effective connection leading to sustainable solutions for women’s social and economic empowerment.

Another highlight of the project has been that youth forums have succeeded in building alliances and establishing linkages with key stakeholders at the local level: women self-help groups, village heads, panchayat members, teachers, anganwadi workers. They are sensitizing schools and panchayats on the YFAGBV approach. They have also interfaced with MPs effectively through fusion imagery. They are beginning to form girls clubs. They are beginning to act as referrals on health issues of adolescent girls.

K M SHANKAR, PANCHAYAT MEMBER, VILLAGE KUDANAHALLI, DISTRICT MYSORE: (In Hindi.)

TEXT CAPTION: The Panchayat of Kudanahalli has supported ICPRD in its efforts to reduce alcoholism, girl child discrimination and gender based violence in the community.

N. FATIMA, TEACHER, GOVT. HIGH SCHOOL, VILLAGE ARALALUSANDRA, DISTRICT RAMNAGARA: (In Hindi.)

TEXT CAPTION: More than 50% of Ms. Fatima’s students are members of ICPRD. She feels they have changed since joining ICPRD: they have stopped teasing girls and getting into brawls. Their behavior in class and their studies have also improved.

CHETHAN KUMARI, GIRLS' CLUB MEMBER, VILLAGE DYVAPATNA, DISTRICT RAMANAGARA: (In Hindi.)

TEXT CAPTION: Motivated by the youth forums working in the village on gender issues, the girls have also been inspired to form girls’ clubs.

(Shivraja A S, Master Trainer and ICPRD Staff, Bangalore)

NARRATOR: This is Shivraja from Channapatna, Karnataka (phonetic). He has been with the project since 2006. He is 18 years old and is doing his diploma in engineering. He comes from a poor socioeconomic background. Identifying his potential, his interest, and skills, he was appointed part-time staff with the project at the regional office in Bangalore. He has become an important pivot of the project, even conducting training on gender issues with YFAGBVs and translating and interpreting from the local language, Kannada, to English when required. He has emerged as a leader at the local level, lending sustainability to the project.

DR. NANDINI ASAD, MEMBER-SECRETARY, ICPRD: This project is on the verge of a breakthrough in the history of women’s empowerment. Many who have tirelessly worked the mainstream gender issues will be heartened to note the new role of young men as allies in fighting the many manifestations of gender-based violence at the grassroots, not the theoretical level anymore. May I now invite young and old men as re-socialized citizens to walk with us, to work with us towards our common vision of a gender-equitable world.

TEXT CAPTION: As we watch these young citizens saying that they are different from the rest of the boys and the way they treat girls and women with a new deference in the community, the project outcome is a new form of re-socialization for young men inculcating gender equitable values in the community. We hope each village, each slum in India and Asia has a youth forum that will tilt the power leverage with the mothers and sisters in the family.

The Independent Commission for People’s Rights and Development, New Delhi: A pro-poor national advocacy coalition of 900 NGOs from 158 Districts across 21 States of India.

Credits: ICPRD Team
Acknowledgements: IFES/USAID Support



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