My learning journey at ECF

My internship at ECF began as a result of the placements which took place at the university in which I was studying i.e. Savitribai Phule Pune University. I was pursuing a postgraduate diploma in gender, culture and development studies and had an inclination towards working in the development of human rights especially gender-related issues and atrocities. I used to participate with my college’s gender equality forum and had even completed a certificate course in women’s studies so I knew instinctively about the arena I wished to work in. Subsequently, I sent in my application to my respective professors, who in turn, assigned me to work with ECF. Part of what I liked a lot about ECF was their ‘hands-on’ approach to integrate both theory and practice which delves deep into the grassroots levels which translated into the ‘Action for Equality’ programme and the positive impacts that they have made. Though it was only for a month, it’s helped me to understand the gravity of the social issues which plague the economically deprived sections of society. Working here has helped me to gain leverage over my area of expertise and has given me the necessary exposure to hone my writing skills which I immensely enjoy. Not only that, but exploring the nuances and generalisations of the patriarchal discourse first hand has been helpful. But most of all, it was venturing out into the community of ‘Lohiya Nagar’ which truly was an eye-opener for me. Not to glorify or assuage my guilt over anything, but to encounter first-hand, the adverse conditions of the participants and their respective families was the turning point of this internship for me. Coming from a place of privilege and having lived my entire life at the other end of the spectrum, it was really gut wrenching for me to witness their sorry state.

At ECF, most of my time was spent in understanding and being a part of the analysis and development of the curriculum of the ‘Action for Equality’ programme and working on the literature review report. The literature review was where I was assigned to assist in the development of strategies for ECF. Engaging with the curriculum is what I took immense delight in because I felt like this was an endeavour that was especially befitting for me, given my qualifications. Another aspect of this internship was the people that I have met at ECF and the stimulating conversations that I have had with some of them. I can’t thank my co-workers enough for being patient with me during my initial days here and for being so accommodating.

Indeed it’s a pleasure to work here and certainly a place that I would recommend to my peers. I have never worked before so this is quite literally, my very first job. But whenever I do work again, I hope the work atmosphere is as healthy and enriching as this and my future co-workers, as friendly and welcoming. I can’t emphasise enough how much this internship has boosted my confidence and given me a newfound sense of identity and self-efficacy. If I had to delineate my major learnings about this internship, it would be familiarizing myself about the dynamics of gender transformative and gender accommodative measures undertaken by NGOS and the frameworks under which they operate. Writing,research and evaluation are among my strong points so this internship was the perfect opportunity for me to apply my skills and knowledge that I’ve acquired in my academic career. It has also helped me to realize my strengths and my areas of improvement too. And though it may have been just a month-long internship, there’s so much I have gained that I can’t seem to quantify it. This internship has been incredibly enriching and there aren’t enough expletives in my vocabulary to explain how grateful I am for having the opportunity to work here.

– Tazmeen Yusuf Karim