The first step towards solving the problem is understanding it!

Equal Community Foundation is working towards changing the attitudes and behaviours of young men through the Action for Equality (AfE) program. In the last two weeks of this 15-week training program, young men participate in Action Events.

The most recent action event after the completion of 8th cycle of the AfE program was based on the issue of Gender Discrimination & Media.

To solve any problem, we need to understand it first. Similarly, if men want to stand against violence and discrimination, if they want to act against it, then they need to first realise the existence and nature of this problem in their own environment.

The impact of media on society is huge. Nowadays, media tries to attract women and men into a frame based on gender discrimination. Through the medium of the AfE action events, our young men analysed the inequality reflected in newspapers, advertisements, films, songs, television serials and other kinds of media.

Here are some examples discrimination against women reflected through media-

  • In almost all advertisements, we see that is a woman has backache because of doing household chores, she is given an ointment or a tablet to make her feel better. Is the responsibility of others in the household over by doing this? Instead of talking about the need of same allocation of work, the media teaches us that using an ointment or a tablet will help women quickly finish all her chores (sometimes by flying in the air too?) What type of message we are giving the community through this?
  • In multiple advertisements for shaving blades, shaving creams even refreshments women are ‘displayed’. Is this really necessary?
  • There are multiple songs like ‘sheila ki jawani’, munni badnaam hui, paisa fek tamasha dekh, nachengi pinki’ which are humiliating and insulting to all women. In songs like ‘Tu chiz badi he, mast mast’ women are described as a ‘chiz’ which basically means ‘an object’. Really? Is a woman a mere ‘object’ for us?
  • In films, why are actresses only used for entertainment? Why are ‘rowdy’ (careless) or ‘dabang’ (strong) characters associated with actors coming to the rescue of actresses?
  • Why are women from the same television serials always wearing expensive saris while working in the kitchen? Or standing helpless before God? Or always fighting and conspiring?

Our young men did a detailed search on many such issues and collected cut outs from various newspapers and magazines.  With the use of these cut outs they created poster collages. During the distribution of certificates at the Action Event, they presented these posters and had discussions with the parents and other community members present at the event. That’s not all; they even pledged not to be a part of any kind of violence and discrimination henceforth and to encourage their friends to do the same.

We are completely aware that posters and discussions like these will not bring about major change in the attitudes and behaviours of these young men. We don’t expect it to! However, because of such programmes, we are able to create awareness regarding the issue in the minds of some 202 children from 18 communities in Pune.

The realisation and because of the realisation, a small but important effort taken by the young men to discuss gender discrimination in their community, is an essential step to provide the direction for the establishment of a community based on equality!