Big Meet and Greet: Taking action towards gender equality

BMG Oct 2016 Group Photo

Action for Equality participants as they take a vow- ‘Violence ends with us’


October 16, 2016: Isn’t it an inspiring sight to see 230 young men dance, sing, act and cheer to prevent violence and discrimination against women and girls? 230 young men from 19 communities gathered in Somwar Peth, Pune with one clear objective: to plan collective action for gender equality.

The performers were not professionals, but graduates of Equal Community Foundation’s Action for Equality (AfE) Programme. The programme primarily engages boys in the age group of 13 to 17 years to prevent violence and discrimination against women and girls in India. Till date, AfE has engaged 4493 participants from 19 low-income communities in Pune.

ECF celebrated its Big Meet and Greet (BMG) this Sunday to mark a momentous occasion – the graduation of 185 graduates from Action of Equality’s Foundation programme and celebrate the monumental hard work of its 162 gender equality leaders. “BMG is one event where participants interact with and learn from their peers from other AfE communities across Pune,” says Anjana Goswami, Programme Development Manager at ECF. ‘It is motivating for them as they understand that they are a part of a larger movement for gender equality.”

Action for Equality participants were hard at work for the last 3 months; they met weekly to plan and perform for the Big Meet and Greet. Through mediums such as street plays, social songs, photo booth and a flash mob participants challenged gender norms that they see around them. Simple language, relatable situations and humor helped their peers connect with the performances. Every presentation offered innovative solutions to end these deep-rooted gender inequitable social evils. When asked why is Gender Equality important for him, 15 year old AfE participant Kamloddin Attar said, ‘Men and women are born equal, with equal rights. We, as a society, bind them with gender norms. Women have just as much potential and rights to do whatever they want as men.”

ECF’s partners and well-wishers from organizations such as Tathapi Trust, Deep Griha Society, Magic Bus Foundation and Manavi Vikas Sanstha joined us in the celebrations. Sunanda Shinde, an Aanganwadi Sevika and our well-wisher from Kashewadi, Pune  said, “I have seen tremendous change in those boys who attend AfE’s sessions in my community- they are respectful of women and girls, and their rights. That is why, I am always keen to be a part of ECF’s activities and help them spread the message for Gender Equality.’

After networking with other young gender equality advocates the young men went home doubly inspired to make gender equality a reality in their communities. Investing in young boys and men to become a part of the solution towards achieving gender equality is a part of ECF’s core strategy towards addressing this serious issue.