This Christmas give a gift that counts!

25_Dec_02

Dear Supporter,

When shopping for Christmas gifts this season, please keep Equal Community Foundation (ECF) in mind. There may be people on your list who might truly appreciate having a donation to ECF made in their name, rather than receiving a tangible gift.

Making a donation to ECF is a great way to show friends, family members, co-workers and even clients that you are thinking about them during the holiday season, as well as sending a message that you are thoughtful of the needs in your community – a lovely opportunity to spread a message of cheer and charitable giving during the Christmas season.

Once you have purchased your gift donation, we’ll provide you with a certificate showcasing the donation amount and the name of the person it’s been made in honour of. The certificate can be sent to you for gift-giving purposes or go directly to the recipient.

All funds raised through Christmas gifts will go directly to support the mission of ECF: ‘To give every man in India an opportunity to practise gender equitable behaviour to end violence and discrimination against women.’

You can choose to make gift donations worth Rs.1200, Rs.3000, Rs.6000 and Rs.12000. This page will give you more details on how these donations will be used. Once you have decided to purchase a gift donation please get in touch with our Partnerships team at 020-26168006.

We look forward to hearing from you. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

Regards,
The ECF Team

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Let’s change the conversation…

Whenever we speak about Equal Community Foundation and our work with men, we are posed with questions  such as ‘how do you identify perpetrators’, ‘how do you get men to attend your sessions’,  ‘why would they attend’, ‘do men really change’? Somehow, when asked these questions I feel like the other person has made up their mind for the negative. In conversations that are heading in this direction all I want to say is ‘let’s change the conversation’

Here is my list for how I would like to change the conversation.

Let’s talk about men as agents of change rather than current or future perpetrators of violence
No productive dialogue can start based on an accusation. When we accuse someone we also tend to take our own behaviour out of the equation. We can’t be just pointing fingers at men. We need to check if we as a society are creating an enabling environment that encourages, supports and lets men sustain that behaviour change.

Last week at an event I heard a graduate of the programme saying – what he liked about the programme was the fact that in spite of the way the he behaved in the past, the mentor interacted with him as a friend. When men and women around him termed him ‘good for nothing’, the mentor showed faith in him and supported him in managing his behaviour. This young man has changed his behaviour over the last one year and today he is one of our most active volunteer leaders who advocates this change to other men.

Do men really want to change?! YES THEY DO.
Let’s not assume men don’t want to change. Our experience at ECF of working with young men shows that men want to change. They want to bring about change in themselves and other men around them. They want to change for the women in their lives. It could be their mother, sister, friend or a woman in their neighbourhood. They want to change for themselves so that they could have better relationships.

In every community there are men who respect women and care about gender equality, but lack the courage, skills, and knowledge to take action. We need to find these men and provide them the confidence, education and support to take voluntary action to drive change, influence other men to take action, and spread this vision in their community.

Let’s redirect the conversation from ‘Men need to change their mindset’ to ‘let’s raise men’
Continuing from my previous point it’s not just men who need to change but the people around them need to change too. Each one of us has a role to play in raising men to end violence and discrimination against women.

A young man who is part of a programme like Action for Equality typically spends 3 to 6 hours a week gaining information and learning how to manage his behaviour. Outside of this setting when he tries to change, let’s say start doing the dishes he gets challenged from different angles. His father might say “you don’t these domestic chores; it’s your sister’s responsibility”. The advertisements on TV still show only women washing up the utensils. His teachers might be sharing some example that is reinforcing what the father or the advertisements are saying. His friends might tease him. It would clearly require him to be bold and have the conviction to continue doing something as simple as doing dishes. In this situation, if all the other influencers supported and encouraged the change, wouldn’t the likelihood of him doing the dishes on a daily basis increase? Wouldn’t the positive response encourage him to change some of his other attitudes and behaviours?

Each one of us as an individual or as a part of an institution need to check whether we are raising men around us as a part of the problem or as a part of the solution.

Hopefully in the days and months ahead, these three points will be a starting point in our conversations.

— Rujuta Teredesai | Executive Director | Equal Community Foundation

I am doing something to end the violence. Are you?

In the streets of Pune we all try to focus on our aims without letting the street distract us, but here is a man lying on the road. All the cars are passing by him, overlooking, as if he were a pile of trash that one needs to avoid. Did you ever see him? And here is the girl at the junction.She usually performs tricks with her tiny fragile body, which I can’t even imagine myself doing, all for a few rupees. Who trained her for a life like this? Who protects her? Here is a young boy knocking at my car window, wanting to sell plastic toys. Who labors a child of that age in such a dangerous place, a bustling street in Pune?
 
These experiences in Pune are frustrating and sad. Why do people have to live like that?
 
And now I am at my home. And even here next to me, the maid of the house tells me how her drunken husband beats her, takes her money and how his family abuses her. Even here I can do nothing… This is not a sudden meeting with somebody; she is here to help me and my family. Yes for a salary, but the essence is she is a meaningful person for me.And she is not alone. Her story is so generic that it probably sounds familiar to every person living in Pune. 
 
Coming from another country, I never heard that in India the problem of neglecting women and adopting such norms of violence is so prevalent. Such norms that enable people to become blind to the enormous phenomena of discrimination and violence towards women in Indian society.
 
I wonder what happened… Looking at the past and exploring it, is interesting and is probably something I will keep on doing, but at the same time, I am intrigued to look at present times, and try to find key actions to reduce and ultimately block these kinds of social norms. So when they happen, people will be shocked or amazed or feel it is fundamentally so wrong that they cannot close their eyes. They will stop and ask – what can WE do? What should WE do?As individuals, we feel helpless or powerless, but as a group we are powerful.  
 
So, I’ve learnt to appreciate organizations which believe in what they are doing. And I joined ECF. I feel I am not alone now. And I am lucky to have a clear opportunity to do something, but I hope more and more people will become critical about violence, and want to join their voices against it. Are you going to?
Danit Shaham
Program Director | Equal Community Foundation

Men want change

This week, ECF released its first mentor-led research report, looking at the important question of why young men are motivated to get involved with gender based violence prevention programmes, such as Action for Equality. Designed and led by ECF’s programme mentors, this research study has offered an insight into what young men perceive to be the benefits of a participating in gender equality programmes.

Our experience over the last few years has shown us two things: first, that there are a considerable number of young men who are willing to challenge the patriarchal norms that normalise gender based violence; and second, that, if this willingness is channeled in a positive direction, these young men can play an important role in preventing gender based violence and promoting gender equality.

The findings from this report highlight that many young men want access to more supportive and non-patriarchal spaces, in which they have an opportunity to communicate, explore sensitive issues that are relevant to them, to introspect, grow and mature. The report recognises this need for creating more spaces for men for positive and supported, non-patriarchal sharing.

Given that the majority of cases of gender based violence, either on the street or in the home, are underpinned by men’s real or perceived fulfillment of hegemonic masculinities to assert power and control, it is essential that young men have the opportunity to critically reflect on the patriarchal socialization that is often related to masculine identity.

View the full report here. 

Mentor-led research report