We often hear people saying that the youth will define our future. In the coming future they will become policy makers, entrepreneurs, professionals or simply individuals who will be pioneers of change. While the elder generation also needs to incorporate new social developments to set an example in front of the young minds, it is the youth who have a significant role to play in these initiatives as the possibility of scaling new social developments into becoming norms of the society lies in their hands.
The youth has a big role to play whenever we imagine a social change initiative at any level. But the question is – when the youth are silenced and trapped under a culture of fear, instilled in them in order to control them on the pretext of disciplining them, how can they become the agents of change? How will they rise?
The goal of the recent Un-darr Festival was to challenge this infantilized state of the youth in Indian society whereby youth are always seen as people with lesser knowledge, and hence their motives are always treated with a suspicion/distrust. Such a hegemonic suppression of the youth creates a culture of de-capacitating them from forming opinions, expressing views and owning up or initiating social change actions. It is very important that the youth of the current generation be exempted from such suspicion and infantilization if we aspire to make them leaders who will not only have the knowledge but also a conviction of formulating new creative ways to solve existing social, cultural, economic and political issues. This is essential for them being able to take forward their aspiration for peace, justice and harmony into the future.
Through the Un-darr Festival, Breakthrough sought to give a platform to the youth of Delhi to rise and express themselves through creative ways and give them their due space to feel a sense of responsibility towards the society. The festival brought together the youth from across the city to share their own journeys and showcase their work.
Aftab, Angelie and Chaavi, members of BT generation Delhi, shared their journey of how they started and are still running their campaign called “talk gender pride” on transgender rights. BT generation Delhi’s theatre group, the mirror theatre group also performed their play on sexual harassment in public spaces called “Darr”. BT generation Haryana also joined the list of performers with their play, “Darr ke aage jeet hai”.
Womenite – a youth collective of students from various colleges of Delhi and the youth task force of Action India showcased their own curated song and dance sequence which highlighted the patriarchal control on women’s rights over their body and life and sexual harassment in public places. Abhi Vyakti, the theatre collective of Maitreyi college, conducted a special performance of their critically acclaimed play – “Daag – e – Daaman”, a play that revolves around the issue of menstrual taboo.
The young people tried to push the boundary of public discourse on women’s right by creating a public discourse on issues like menstruation which is still garbed under a thick sense of taboo in the mind of most people.
Youth leaders who are leading various gender equality campaigns, namely Logna from One Billion Rising and Faraz from Ek Saath, came and shared the stories of their own struggles and their aspiration to join and lead people’s movements. Suraj Pawar, from Azad Foundation and Soni from Action India shared their journeys and struggles and achievements/learning they have gained as a young activist and also of their experience of working with young people in various communities of Delhi. Ishaani and Chingkheinganbi from WDC Miranda house shared their journey of understanding social, cultural and political theories in their own classroom to owning up and joining the force of various slogans and sloganeers on the streets of the city.
An open mic session was also conducted inspiring young artists from city to take to stage with their own creative expressions against various cases of gender based violence and everyday misogyny they encounter in the city. Performers Consortium, a collective of aspiring young artist from the city curated and conducted the open mic session. Young artists from the collective themselves and other artists brought their songs, music, poetry and other performances of protest against forces that destroys human dignity, integrity and disrupts equality and justice.
Moreover, honourable judge Shreya Arora Mehta, and also secretary of Delhi Legal Service Authority, South (DLSA) graced the occasion as the guest of honour. She expressed how she was overwhelmed to come across such powerful and articulate young people from the city who inspire her. She also gave a hearty welcome to all the aspiring youth to come in contact with government bodies like DLSA and take the opportunity to become government’s young allies for social change.
The energy at the event was overwhelming. The youth were not only seen getting inspired by each other but also thoroughly enjoying the space and the accountability placed on them. In one of the performances in which the performing group called out to the audience to join them, everybody was seen standing and swaying along with them to the background music of a song that express a stance of reclaiming one’s rights and rising up against atrocities that one is determined to eliminate out of one’s environment.
Even during the festival many youth approached the Breakthrough team with new request and registration to perform their own curated plays and performances on social change actions while many asked the Breakthrough team to let them know of further similar events. They remarked they feel appreciated and empowered and the synergy that was brought together on that day made their own belief and conviction on self stronger – that their ideas and opinions are also right and they matter; that their active participation and interest also holds a significant role in bringing about social change. As a member of Breakthrough’s Delhi team I can say that we are grateful for the response and feel even more motivated and inspired to continue our efforts to empower the youth.