Men demand equal voice for women

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In the week of January 23 to 29, 150 men organized action events across 16 communities to demand equal voice for women in decision-making in their communities. The action events are organised to mark the end of a programme cycle, where men take personal and collective action to support women in their communities. 

In these events, women from the communities felicitate the men who have graduated from the AfE programme cycle. 135 men graduated from this programme cycle. 

During our regular training sessions, men often give examples of how women are dependent on the men for almost every decision they take. Be it regarding their daily movements, whether they should get a job, how should they spend the money they have earned, which hospital to go to if they or the kids fall sick and so on. Through study and debate the adolescent men realized that this kind of power dynamics is harmful for men, women and their families. This is the reason we decided to address the issue through the action events. Men were trained by our programme mentors to address the topic. The events were delivered through the medium of picture story. More than 600 women attended these events across the 16 communities.

The picture story led to an interesting dialogue amongst the young men and women.  Nanabai Gaikwad, resident of Ambedkar Nagar argued, “I agree with what you are saying. Some women in this community don’t know the meaning of ‘independence’. Some know what it means but don’t have courage to do anything about it. Some women like me have the courage but in return we have to listen to abusive words from our husbands and be the victim to their beating. What’s the solution you can suggest for that?”

 Before our mentor or advocates could say something, two women from the community answered, “In so many years, we haven’t been able to change our husbands. What can a new organisation do about it in such short time! But what they are doing is making these young men understand and think. Going forward they will behave well and support their mother, sister and wife unlike our husbands.”

It is encouraging to hear the women coming forward validating our approach and trying to convince other women about the same.

The team is preparing to start the new programme cycle next week. All graduates will be invited to join the Alumni Action Programme where they continue to take action to reduce violence and discrimination against the women in their communities.

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Volunteers meet to develop AFE curriculum

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Most active volunteers on the Alumni Action Programme (AAP) are nominated to be the leaders. They coordinate the AAP events in their community with the help of other volunteers. The programme mentors provide them training and support. Monthly training events are organised for them. The objective of this activity is to build the capacity of these young men so that they are equipped with skills, knowledge and experience to conduct events in order to reduce violence and discrimination against women in their communities. Eventually, they will be ready to continue the work in absence of ECF.

As a part of the ongoing training, 20 volunteer leaders were taken for a day outing to a place called Ananda Valley, an eco-tourism resort near Pune.  The following points were on agenda for the day:

 

Recognise their participation: This was an opportunity to appreciate the work and efforts put in by volunteer leaders in the last 8 months.

Receive feedback:   This was the most crucial aspect of the volunteer leader outing. Though mentors interact with men and provide feedback as and when, this was an opportunity for volunteers to share the challenges they face on field, things that they want to change on the programme, tasks in which they need further support , know their expectation from ECF, vice versa and so on.

Develop a sense of belonging: Team building exercises were organised in which the entire ECF team and volunteers participated. We consider the volunteers to be a part of ECF and therefore there is a need for them to be able to be comfortable with mentors and rest of the programme staff.  Also, all staff members who don’t interact directly with the men on a regular basis need the space for interaction. 

End of the day everyone left feeling charged up and feeling we are one team working together to reduce violence and discrimination against women. The team is now working on analyzing the feedback gathered and developing plan to implement suggestions.

 

300 guests pledge support at BBG Gala Ball

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The British Business Group (BBG), Pune’s annual charity Gala Ball was held on February 4 at Hyatt Regency in aid of ECF. 

300 guests attended the evening, theme for which was ‘A Royal Occasion’. 

Tom Tom, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Hyatt contributed towards one of the highlights of the evening – the grand auction. A holiday at Keralan Palace, a stay at Hyatt Regency Hong Kong and stay at a luxury villa in countryside of southern coast of Sri Lanka was up for grabs.  Guests bid generously knowing they were getting good value and the fact that money was going for a good cause. A silent auction and sale of raffle tickets followed the grand auction. All items were donated by local businesses and supporters. 

The ball brought together a fantastic mix of people, amazing prizes, delicious food and drinks, live band, casino tables – overall an event that everyone enjoyed. 

The money raised at the Ball will contribute towards implementation of the Action for Equality Programme across 20 communities in Pune over the next 1 year. It costs approximately Rs. 1.2 lakhs to run one branch of Action for Equality Programme for a year.  In 2012, ECF will work with over 1,300 adolescent men, and graduate 600 of them under the AfE programme from 20 communities. As a result, nearly 2000 women will benefit from reduced violence and discrimination. 

On behalf of ECF we would like to thank Vandana Poria (BBG co-chair), BBG executive committee members, all sponsors and most importantly all guests who attended the event for making it a huge success. We would like make a special mention of Aditi Tembe from ECF for doing a fantastic job of organising the ball.

 

Will Muir selected as an UnLtd India investee

In December 2011, Will Muir was selected as a Level 2 investee by UnLtd India for the second consecutive year.

UnLtd India finds, funds and supports exceptional individuals whose ideas, passion and entrepreneurial skills can bring about long-term solutions to India’s social problems. 

They provide:

Seed funding: to pay for critical early start-up costs and support for your venture as you build it to a sustainable level

Hands-on coaching and training: on business and financial planning, fundraising, legal structures, governance, marketing and HR management

High-value connections: linking you with mentors, peers and experts in their field, and further funders and investors

Level 2 investee support is designed to propel your existing high-potential early-stage project towards greater impact and sustainability: this encompasses up to Rs 2 Lakhs of further funding, along with an average of 220 hours of hands-on support over a year.

This partnership with UnLtd India has proved to be extremely valuable for ECF. Thank you!

Investing in peopleā€¦

At ECF, one of the constant challenges we face is recruitment of good quality of programme mentors. The team of mentors we have is committed to the cause and deliver high quality training to men in the community. But we recognise that we need to provide ongoing training to programme mentors along with other programme staff to build their capacity.

In addition to the regular monthly training, we organised a week-long intensive mentor training in the last week of January covering the following areas.

Violence against women and re-emphasizing on the role of men in reduction of same

How to do good documentation or reporting

Best practices for stakeholder engagement

How to make your training sessions interesting and fun

How to do deal with individuals with special needs

Basic computer training

Showcase of issue-based documentary films

Highlight of the training was a session conducted by renowned social activist, writer and director Atul Pethe. He spoke to mentors about how to use oneself as a medium during training.  Mentors found the interaction with him very useful.

ECF will restart work in Kasarwadi

In September, we had to take a break of one programme cycle at 4 branches in Kasarwadi area associated with Forbes Marshall. The branches were not delivering the desired results.

ECF had proposed to conduct research and analyse the problem through interaction with participants and wider community. Learnings from the report have helped us develop a better plan of action. The programme mentor is conducting mobilising activities and will start operations on February 20

Involvement of the Forbes Marshall community workers in the research has played a crucial role in us being able to gather accurate information, mobilise and promote the programme in the community. Also, we greatly appreciate the support provided by Forbes Marshall. Thank you!

New batch of AfE graduates join Alumni Action Programme

All 135 graduates will be invited for the quarterly Volunteer Meet and Greet to be held on February 25 to join the Alumni Action Programme (AAP)

This will be an opportunity for the graduates to meet volunteers of AAP from all the 16 communities, who have been working with us for the past 8 months. 

The event is designed to be fun, filled with games, interviews of the star performers, women sharing their experiences and a discussion with one of the senior activist in this area of work – Milind Chavan.