When the world is talking about the rate of violence and discrimination against the women in India and the role men play in it – we have stories of men from the communities where ECF works, acting as agents of change and positive role models. We firmly believe that not every man is a part of the problem but every man can be a part of the solution. These young men are proving us right. And it’s not just us or the men who are saying this but so are the women in their lives who are reporting this.

 

Meet Rajani Akolkar and her daughters

Rajani_akolkar_and_daughters

Rajani Akolkar’s son Mahesh is a volunteer leader in the Super Indira Nagar. Rajani and her two daughters, both elder to Mahesh, recount their experiences of observing the process of change in him since he joined ECF’s Action for Equality Programme.

He has graduated from the 2nd cycle of the programme. Rajani shares, “Mahesh really liked going to Action for Equality sessions, and would always share whatever he had learnt. In that process, we had interesting conversations about society, current issues, and especially about women’s issues.” She reports that participating in the programme has made Mahesh more sensitive to the issues of women, and of society in general, and is hence more motivated to take action. She is proud that Mahesh has been selected as a leader in the Alumni Programme. “He has the responsibility of organising community events about women’s issues and works with Ramesh sir (the ECF mentor) to engage more boys in this cause.” she adds.

Rajani views this change from a long-term perspective. “Because of ECF, Mahesh has been moulded in such a way that he won’t become like the rest of the boys who disrespect and harass women. In fact, he holds discussions at home, and makes sure to listen to our experiences and opinions as women. It shows that he will become a responsible and sensitive husband or father later in his life.”

Mahesh’s sisters too have noticed this change in him and are proud of their brother.

 

Meet Nanda Jamadar

Nanda_jamadar

Nanda is a mother of two who lives in a small room in one of the communities where Action for Equality Programme is being implemented. She works as a domestic help in the high-rise apartments that have recently sprung up nearby. Her two sons, Deepak and Vikram, are graduates of the Action for Equality Programme cycles 2 and 3 respectively. They are now active in the Alumni programme as well.

Over the last year, Nanda has witnessed a progressive change in her two boys. She shares, “Both of them were very mischievous. They would hardly stay at home, always wanting to go outside and play. It never even crossed their mind to help at home. I had to constantly tell them even to do little things like filling up a jug of water. Then they started going to the sessions that ECF conducted. Once, my elder son actually came to me and asked me if he could help around the house. I was very surprised, but pleasantly so!” The boys help with household chores such as cleaning, filling water and frequently running errands for her. “It feels like a huge relief for me.”

 

Meet Ambika Kamble

Ambika_kamble

Ambika runs a tiny tailor-shop in the community of Ambedkar Nagar in Pune. Her son, Prakash, is a graduate of the Action for Equality programme. He began to attend the Graduate Programme in November 2011. Over the course of the programme, Prakash has been helping his mother both at home and in her tailor shop. “Earlier, it would never even occur to him to help me, he was so occupied in his own life. But for the last one year he has started taking responsibility for the work at home. He washes the utensils and cleans the house. In my business too, he helps deliver the clothes, runs errands, and even sews buttons on the blouses!”

Prakash continues to participate in Action for Equality – Alumni Programme.

 

Interviews conducted by Sakhi Nitin-Anita