We had our second session of EmpowHER Junior 2017 on December 2, 2017. The excitement was same as the first session as we were getting to learn the new things again. Conducted at Ujyalo Foundation, the session started with a presentation made by the previous session’s representatives. Next, we acted out different scenes at different ages from the life of a girl named Anuja. These acts showed her changing identity in terms of roles, sexuality and responsibilities.
The following activity where we wrote about our identities as a friend, a family member and a partner helped us understand the scenes that we performed. Then, we were told to draw three different self-portraits, each one depicting what we thought we looked like, what society thought we looked like and how we wanted society to look at us. After this activity, we watched a video on an experiment on the society’s perception and our own perception of ourselves. In the experiment, an artist was sketching portraits of women solely based on the descriptions they gave of themselves. Then, the people who gave a description of themselves were told to open up to a complete stranger. The artist then drew another picture depicting the face of the same women, only this time; the stranger gave the description. The end result depicted that the portraits drawn on the basis of the description given by the stranger was much better and closer to the face of the person being drawn than the description they gave of themselves.The video left us feeling happier and in a better mindset than before. All of these activities showed us that we are way more critical of ourselves than the society is and that often leads to us having low self-esteem.
The next activity was body mapping. This helped us understand our bodies better and how society perceives our bodies under different circumstances. Next, we were separated into three groups. Each group was given a box containing various clothing items and accessories. Using those materials, we were told to create an identity for a person. All of the groups created very stereotypical representations on the basis of a certain gender, sexuality and place of birth.
The mood in the room was a bit darkening. So the energizers (change makers who are assigned the job of keeping the energy up in the room) were told to do a quick activity to cheer everyone up. We ended up playing a game of Chinese Whisper, which left us all howling with laughter. The last activity that we did was to draw the image of a traditional, good-natured, true Nepali woman. A majority of us drew a woman, dressed in traditional clothes, wearing accessories like bangles and tikas. The final activity showed that we still could not get the preconceived notion of how a person should look like based on their characteristics.
The second session gave us a lot of contesting space and pushed us. We went against our own minds and habits that have been always there within ourselves. We became determined to change our way of thinking and that although it would take time, it was achievable.
The session, centered on body and identity, gave us new insight on the topics. It altered our thought process, made us think twice and revealed to us the prejudice that we had. It was engaging and motivating as a whole.
By: Aarya Silwal, Adity Sapkota
The writers are EmpowHER Junior Changemakers.