When Manjula and Bharat, Breakthrough staff in Mangalore, started their session on gender-based discrimination and harassment among the adolescents of Muttur govt. high school, little did they know that it would lead to an amazing breakthrough of awareness on the need for gender sensitization of the all the nearby communities.
Towards the end of the session, the school principal was invited for feedback and planning. As the children, mostly girls, started sharing about the daily harassment they face on the way back home and in their own communities, the principal was so stunned that he decided then and there, that this had to be addressed in the village. He categorically stated that it was the villagers’ responsibility to protect their children.
In the subsequent meeting, Bharat got an opportunity to address the issue to some of the prominent community members, including the panchayat president. The meeting was a revelation to many and by the end, the panchayat president himself felt that he and others need training in tackling this menace of sexual harassment within the community.
The first panchayat training was organized in Kuppupadav panchayat for PRI members and other community stakeholders . It was a complete success. Doors started opening, and more and more panchayats started inviting them to do the community based training on gender based discrimination and violence. They have already covered 4 panchayats with 3 in the pipeline.
Today I was part of the training of a Mahila panchayat. They had organized a complete women empowerment workshop with BT durga play and training as the center piece. The child protection officer, the medical officer, PRI members, officials from the WCD department, the entire community of some 70-80 women attended the training. The play touched them so much , many of them were in tears and right after the program, three more training have been offered mostly with pro-bono support.
Looks like we’re here to stay…