On 19th December, 2019, the Research Development and Evaluation team at Equal Community Foundation, conducted a discussion on the scenarios we use in our Gender Attitude Survey (GAS), from an adult perspective. This discussion was done with the entire team, with the objective to understand the team’s views on different topics.

The GAS scenarios were divided broadly into 3 parts: 

a) Gender Roles and Responsibilities

b) Manhood and Masculinity

c) Violence and Tolerance – personal space and public space

 

Under gender roles and responsibilities many of our team members mentioned that household work is not only women and girls’ responsibility but also the responsibility of men and boys since it is a shared household and responsibility must be taken by all members. Before marriage, women are always asked if they can do household chores while such a question does not make the cut when it comes to choosing potential male partners. This directly lays out the expectations from female partners in marriage and is vastly different from what is expected from men. These expectations begin with the way we are socialised right from our childhood. This is an important conversation that we have with boys in our communities and we internalise the same as many of our male team members are active caregivers and are also proficient in household chores which they do on a daily basis.

 

While analysing the second part, manhood and masculinity, many of the male members mentioned that if a woman or girl who is close to us (a friend or a relative) comes late from a party or from work, as men we would provide her support if she wants it. However, if she does not want support, we would be tense until she comes back. Somewhere, we continue to struggle to negotiate our roles as protectors and saviours that as men we have been brought up to be. This is something we struggle with in our communities as well with our boys. On one hand, they understand that they must not control their sisters and put restrictions on them, but on the other, they also begin to understand the scale of violence against women in their communities and become more concerned for their well being. It is a difficult place to be, but the solution lies in being open in our conversations with women and girls and let them decide how much support is too much.

 

Finally, under tolerance towards violence in the domestic space, some of us took a firm stand against violence.

“Violence is never acceptable. If there is violence at my home or outside, I will protest against it, as with violence, human rights are violated.”

However, while discussing responses to violence in public spaces, we still tend to fault the victim based on her clothes or the time of day when she is out. When it came to talking about perpetrators, our responses revolved around trying to talk sense into them or cutting off ties with them, however, there was little talk of taking action against them or reporting acts of violence and supporting survivors of violence.

 

The purpose of conducting this discussion was to reflect on ourselves and where we stand on various gender based issues. It is only when we identify our own biases that we can work on them and while we work with boys, we strive to become better role models by continuously challenging ourselves. Alongside our boys, we too are on a journey towards becoming more gender equitable and we ensure we stand by each other through it.

 

-Supriya Sawant