Kathmandu, May 10, 2017: Last Saturday, 17 girls from different walks of life could be seen interacting with each other at the auditorium of Ujyalo Foundation, and sharing gender dynamics in Nepali society with enthusiasm.
They shared about their ground reality, what they want in their life, where they want to go, and how they will reach there. In pairs, they discussed the similarities between them and their thoughts. They also shared what they like, what they have in common, what hobbies they have in common, which movies they have all watched, their birthday months, etc.
Later, in pairs of four, they discussed about the same. It taught them the group-work, and know what they have in common. It was an engaging session as well as a wonderful process of socialization.
This was a scene from the first session of EmpowHER, a women leadership programme that kicked-off in the capital last Saturday. In the first session, the cohort members interacted with each other, expressed themselves, knew each other, coordinated, and set on a journey that will continue for next 18 weeks.
Sharing her experiences on the occasion, Chhiring Yangjum Sherpa reminisced about the first and second years where she got to see a quaint growth in the program itself, wherein the program began in 2015 with 11 changemakers and with 16 of them in 2016, which has grown to 18 this year.
She emphasized that EmpowHER is not an initiative to transform them into someone new, but just to create a better version of them. “We want you to be you, not change into someone else!’, she added.
Sharing her own life story about conquering her own fear of speaking in front a big mass, she asked the participants to appreciate the little positive changes, to conquer one’s own fears before planting seeds of change in the society.
Later, participants were to divide themselves into pairs and one each pair had to act out a given word to rest of the audiences. The keywords were Gender Based Violence, Privilege, Patriarchy, Socialization, etc.
One of the groups explained socialization as culture, respect, adapting to others’ cultures. A group member shared with an example, “Being a female, one can wear earrings, kurta, makeup and it is considered weird if males do the same. Also, while buying birthday presents for small kids, we tend to buy cars, toys for males and Barbie dolls for females.”
She added that the way the society governs our behavior, from the attire one puts on to how and when they should reach home, all of this comes under socialization. Additionally, the discussion was held upon the social notions regarding women being characterful and characterless. ‘Charitrawan’ and ‘Charitrahin’.
Amuda Mishra, facilitator of the session shared real-life examples to probe further. A girl wearing short skirts, or when a boy and a girl spend a night in the same room, they are considered to be having sex, but if two girls are there, then we consider they’re best friends. She then asked them, “Who decides all of this? Who defines it?” A unanimous answer came – Society, that our upbringing, how we are raised, the values given to us since childhood, media, the socialization process moulds our perception.
Similar to this session, the 18-week long journey would include some intense sessions coated with fun, a lot of peer learning and an anticipation of a linear growth among all the 18 Changemakers. The journey is a walk-through to each one’s journey towards growing to become an entrepreneur via learning and exposure based sessions each Saturday.