Building Safe Spaces for the YWCA Youth

Our youth is the foundation stone of our future and the owners of tomorrow who carry the potential to design a better society. Every year on 12th August the world celebrates International Youth Day, so let us all again be a part of this celebration this year. It’s a day to draw sincere attention and spread awareness about some serious societal issues and stigmas related to them that surrounds the youth ever since the issues came into existence.

So this time, let’s make our youth aware about sexual harassment and HIV/AIDS and work on providing safe spaces for them to share their concerns and cope with issues that they deal with.

Theme for youth day 2018: BUILDING SAFE SPACES

The YWCA of India has decided to focus on Women against Violence as the agenda for the Quadrennium  2018- 2022. We have chosen to work on ‘Building Safe Spaces’ as this year’s youth day theme as a part of this agenda.

A group of 3 friends sitting together and chatting, sharing secrets is a safe space for them because they are not judged or challenged for what they say as they all share the bond of trust, and this creates a safe space for them.  Where people can separate or isolate themselves from situations and people who disturb their safety and security and share their feelings with trusted peers contributes to become safe spaces.

Today’s youth always find ways to improve their personality; they want to be in the company of  people who will help them in their personal development. The provision of a safe space is thus an essential component that should aim to enhance positive youth development.

The motive behind choosing sexual harassment and HIV/AIDS as the topic to discuss is that people know about their existence but aren’t exactly aware of the truths and stigmas relating to them. People usually ignore these topics to discuss upon may be because of the myths related to them or they fear about what people will think of them is they freely talk about sexual harassment or HIV. Our focus is to empower the youth of your community with every possible details about these issues.  

“In youth we learn, in age we understand”, said Marie Ebner.

Have a look at the curriculum we’ve designed that will assist you in imparting the knowledge at your workshops.  This curriculum will give you an idea for conducting workshops and you can always make changes as per your conveniences and requirements depending on the audience.

  • Organize a workshop
  • Invite the youth nearby to attend the session. Do open it to anyone who wishes to attend.
  • Give a brief about the theme to the audience.
  • Start with a general discussion about the sexual harassment and HIV/AIDS. Ask the audience what they feel about these issues and how they can overcome if they face any problem related to them.

 

  1. For your reference you can go through our designed format – ask us through headoffice@ywcaindia.org.
  2. After the workshop do share your experiences with us about how the session went, what were the reactions, did the session influence people to take these issues seriously from now on. Sharing your experience will motivate us to come up with more workshops that will help in making our society a better place to live in.

 

Youth Department

YWCA of India

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STOP RAPE

A rampant issue that we all are mute spectators to on a daily basis is the one of rape and violent sexual abuse.

It has reached such a magnitude that we seem to take it in our stride.

The outrage that rocked the country after the ‘Nirbhaya Case’ has died down into an uncomfortable lethargy with a few spurts of community response when there is a particularly atrocious incident like the Kathua case for example and in a few days we are back to our usual commonplace routines.

The situation has now begun to cripple the lives of women and children on a daily basis, we are afraid to travel out as we used to, afraid to send children to school, to send them on the school bus, we need to think twice before we go out at night in some places, worry about travelling in certain modes of transport. The number of children that are recipients of this sort of horrible abuse is unthinkable. Children, both girls and boys targeted as innocent victims of some vile creature’s lust, their lives scarred forever or snuffed out for fear of being discovered by the criminals responsible for the heinous crimes committed against these helpless ones. Cities that we thought were safe seem to harbour the worst sort of lecherous wretches on the planet. What do we as a ‘People against Violence’ do in the face of this reality?

Our country is fast becoming or has become the most unsafe place for women and how do we step in to stop this tide from riding over us and everyone else in its path? How long before we recognize that our boys face so much abuse and remain silent for they have no one to turn to; to share their fears and pain, for society expects them to always be strong and brave and tells them that things like this happen only to wimps.

Can we start making a difference by sharing our concerns among our peers, our areas of influence, with our children – teaching to respect each other, about their right to safety and their need to speak up and how to recognize unsafe touch. Can we help them build a better understanding and make sure they in turn influence others to stop the perpetration of this barbarous outrage?

Let’s use whatever means we can to spread the word – Let’s break the cycle.

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STOP RAPE

How do we help the victims? How do we build back self confidence and help them cope with the back lash?

  • Can we begin by taking the first major step in our thinking – stop finding fault with them of all the things they could have or shouldn’t have done –
  • Can we please stop victimizing the victim? The trauma they go through is way beyond anything any of us could ever imagine and if we can just be there for them it goes a long way.
  • Some of them, especially young men and boys go through a worse situation as they deal with so much self victimization and shame without being able to share their pain with anyone.
  • If we can just go the extra mile, find safe spaces for them to share what they go through, ensure that they can access professional counselling and other support services, assure them that they are not at fault for someone else’s wretched perverted behaviour and be the ones that don’t stand in judgment over them, we can make a difference.

There are many things that each one of us can do in our own sphere of influence, but when we work together we create a powerful synergy that can overcome this monster of nightmarish proportions that is threatening to destroy the very foundations of our society. Let’s be those people who will stand up to make a difference!

by Mrs. Vinodhini Moses

Here’s Where the Ocean’s Trash Comes From

Sightings of junk-filled waters are common—and not only in Southeast Asia, says marine biologist Nicholas Mallos, who runs the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program. “Accumulations like this are unfortunately the norm,” he says, particularly in developing parts of the world where there are “rising middle-class populations along coastlines, and spending and consumption have increased, but waste management has not.”

China and the Philippines top the worst offenders’ list.

Source: Here’s Where the Ocean’s Trash Comes From

What is Social Justice? by John Rajkumar

Social Justice is not something I was aware of, not until my wife asked me to help her with a blog post. So I did what anyone with access to the internet would do, I Googled it.

The first bit I searched for was the definition of what Social Justice is, and here is what I found first.

The fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice.

The definition indicates that social justice looks to form a new society. A society where all citizens are equal and have equal opportunity. As an idealist, this does sound a worthy goal to me. However this definition is very basic. Tells me the what and not the how. So how will a society with Social Justice work? Perhaps before I try to define Social Justice I need to know its history and roots.

How did Social Justice start?

With help from Wikipedia I learnt, Social Justice has its roots in the 1840s, the term was used more towards the end of the Industrial Revolution. The key aspect at this point was POVERTY. The goal was to ensure resources were distributed evenly. Since then Social Justice has evolved to include other imbalances in society, such as, Equal rights – irrespective of gender, caste, colour, religion, etc. Essentially in a society there should be no reason to discriminate against an individual and prevent him from benefiting for the work he is trying to put in. At the same time there should be empowerment and upliftment of the underprivileged.

Are we aware of it? 

Understanding this I realise, this has been a topic we discuss often. Perhaps not under the term Social Justice and not completely under it’s definition. Most democratic countries have been a part of this. They have passed laws preventing discrimination. Laws have also been passed to provide welfare to the poor. This is entrenched in the Indian constitution as well. The chapter on Fundamental Rights has article 15, which prohibits discrimination based on gender, religion, race or caste. Article 17 abolishes untouchability. The People world over contribute to this as well. We pay taxes, we stand up for ourselves or for members of our society, either online or on the streets. Voices were raised in light of violence against women. This has been an ongoing conversation for decades – where voices have been raised. Some voices have been heard and some not yet.

True, but it is a long road. . . 

In my mind, the road is long and a lot more progress to be made. As an Indian, I see debates raging on various topics that affect the progress of Social Justice. We see citizens from underprivileged backgrounds, marginalised castes as well as women rising above their disadvantages and excelling. They have done this on their own will power, or with assistance from the Government or NGOs. However, we still see abject poverty, caste and gender-based discrimination. There are debates raging on how we should prioritise our citizens or on the methods we should employ to achieve Social Justice. This is normal I would presume in a functioning democracy. However, I do go back to realising, this is a long and difficult road.

How do we contribute? 

So, what is it that we can do to move Social Justice along the right path? I obviously don’t have the answer. I believe one important element in this is – the NGO. In a functioning democracy the primary custodian of this, is the Government. However, a Government has priorities that cover aspects other than Social Justice. Governments are not unknown to make mistakes as well. Here is where an NGO should stand as a pillar towards this goal. NGOs work at the grass roots, identify social and economic issues, work for the have nots and fight for their upliftment.

Contrary to what we read on the news, this world is seeing one of the most peaceful times. Perhaps now is the time for us to look outward, look at our fellow brothers and sisters, understand their trials and burdens and ask ourselves, what can I do?

 

John Rajkumar

One Billion Rising and What it means for YOU!

WHAT IS ONE BILLION RISING [OBR]

Based on horrifying statistics, we have realised that 1 in 3 women are beaten or raped and that is about one billion women/girls among our 7 billion population in this world. Women and girls is an inclusive term here though, it signifies that the weaker are oppressed and hurt.

February 14th every year has now been championed as a day for Revolutionary love, being as Valentine’s day focuses primarily on love. That’s what the One Billion Rising movement hopes to carry through their movement as well. LOVE. RESPECT and a chance for an EQUAL PLATFORM.

 

HOW DID IT START?

2013 was the first year of the OBR movement where people rose to express their outrage against injustices that women suffer. It spread through hundreds of countries, involving the local communities shining a light on the injustices faced by the survivours. This movement gave a voice to them and their oppression. It included a RISE through dance, talks, walks, strikes and dialogues to say that we shall stand together and shall not be silenced and we shall strive to create an environment where violence is resisted and believed to be unthinkable.

This movement included the struggle against sexual and physical violence, which has grown now to include economic violence and violence of poverty, racial violence, gender violence, violence caused by environmental disasters and violence impacting women in the events of wars, capitalised greed and much more.

The 2014 movement focused on One Billion Rise against Justice, while the 2015 to 2016 movement was focused on Revolution. That theme is carrying on to 2017 as well with a focus on ‘RISING IN SOLIDARITY AGAINST THE EXPLOITATION OF WOMEN.’

 

RISE! DISRUPT! CONNECT!

RISE! Women are at their most vulnerable to abuse – at home, in the workplace and economically. Women are abused in multiple layers of our society. One is through our patriarchal structures in society, while another is through the economic exploitation in the need for survival. This is quite prevalent among the marginalised communities – like our indigenous women, domestic workers and women from the lower socio-economic strata.

DISRUPT! OBR believes in a world of equality, freedom, peace and dignity. This belief carries through our YWCA movement as well and it strikes an intense chord with us. Through walks, dances and other creative resistances – a force is built with hope and will that is strong enough to ask for a dialogue and create a need for the Government to pay close attention to a demand of the people.

CONNECT! No movement, or in this case Revolution, can be without support or solidarity. No system change, no challenge to a patriarchal thinking process can be done alone. It needs support and lots of it. Solidarity with a movement, with a cause that will affect each and every one of us and those suffering at the hands of these injustices can help move our hopes and dreams for a equal world forward.

 

HOW TO BE PART OF THE MOVEMENT?

There are global coordinators from the OBR movement and there are two based in India. They are Abha Bhaiya and Kamla Basin from the Sangat South Asian Feminist Network. They organise events that support the OBR campaigns. You can contact them for more information, follow the links through their names to find out more.

From one of the previous campaigns, a group called New Light Girls performed the Anthem of the OBR called, Break the Chain. This anthem can and is still used till today and any new variations of it are encouraged by this campaign.

Follow the OBR blog for more information about the events taking place around the world and know how you can help. The Indian movement has been categorised here. And here is a list of all the events taking place tomorrow around the world.  In India, there are two events taking place, one in Delhi and another in Kolkatta with subsequent events taking place around 22 states throughout February.

 

 

 

National Immunisation Day 2017

Lately social activism has taken on a hard edge to it. There is a sense of despondency that whatever is said will not be heard. The days do look dark ahead of us, however, we need to take our wins along with us as well.

National Immunisation Day 2017, the day that marks the start of the Polio drive in India in accordance with the World Health Organisation [WHO] directive. WHO wanted to eradicate the World of Polio by the year 2000 and India met that deadline with aplomb.

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease. It is caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body).

WHO had two Millennium Development Goals: halving the number of people who suffer from hunger (for which a key indicator is the prevalence of underweight children) and reducing the mortality rate of children under five years of age by two-thirds. With this in mind they set up building campaigns around the world to start the polio drive by immunising children under the age of 5. India successfully participated in this initiative.

It started in Delhi, with polio drops being given door to door. And the following season the Indian Government had taken up this crusade. Door to door campaigns, information to the public was issued at regular intervals, polio schedules were drawn up to ensure that children below 5 got their doses regularly.

Things were on track till one case popped up in Howrah, West Bengal in 2011. From then on, The Indian Government has been following the directive set by WHO to keep India polio free. So, here’s a feather in our caps for following through for 5 years through. There is some good news around, development is happening, we need to remind ourselves of it more often is all.

Oil & Gas Conservation Fortnight 2017

 

Oil and Gas Conservation Fortnight (OGCF) 2017 starts today {4th January} and continues till the 10th of January. First started in the year 1991, in order to spread awareness about the conservation of petroleum products. This initiative grew from just being the ‘Oil Conservation Week’ to ‘Oil and Gas Conservation Fortnight‘ in 2004 – since the nation-wide campaign was quite successful and new eco-friendly gaseous fuels were being substituted more regularly, that it needed to be conserved as well.

The campaign is conducted with the sponsorship by the entire oil industry under the guidance of ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. The campaign has two main concern addressed every year:

  1. the need to conserve resources for the future
  2. the environmental fallout from the non-judicious approach to the use of these fossil fuels

Conservation has always been the need of the hour, since we realised how quickly we run through our resources. Oil and Gas, however, do not feature on our ‘list for conservation’, mostly because we take it for granted. We do not realise the amount of wastage nor use of these resources, because of insufficient infrastructure and insufficient daily commodities among all the population.

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On the flip side of the coin, is the mass usage of these fuels affects the environment that we live in. Besides depleting the earth’s reserves, the effluents from the factories, homes, etc are passed into the running waterways – i.e. our streams, rivers, oceans. Lead free petrol not being a must, we end up releasing a lot of gases into the atmosphere, polluting the very air we breathe.

One of the recent wake-up calls, was when Delhi was heavily polluted, making it the world’s first most polluted city in 2016. The population, the smog, the weather change and the indiscriminate bursting of firecrackers during Diwali made the pollution cross 650 µg/m³.  The high level of particulate matter in the air, made it impossible for the city to function efficiently for a few days.

This is not recent news however, the Taj Mahal recorded damage to it’s white facade turning yellow, because of the pollution in the air, which also pointed out the that air pollution was below the WHO standards for human living conditions.

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Every year, this campaign draws more supporters, more concerns and more information to protect not only these resources, but also our lives. Do join in and learn more about this campaign through the Petroleum Conservation Research Association [PCRA] and find out more of their activities to conserve oil and gas this year and for the coming years.

 

Orange the World: UNiTE to End Violence against Women

A little known fact: 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence from someone close to them, or someone they know.

Thus the initiative started by Secretary-General UNiTE to End Violence against Women calls for 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence in 2016 – from the International Day of Violence against Women [25th November] to Human Right’s Day [10th December].

‘Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls strongly emphasizes the need for sustainable financing for efforts to end violence against women and girls towards the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Ingrained in us is the inequality of roles, rights, opportunities and attitudes between men and women. It’s something that requires a lot of education, a lot of manpower, a lot of open dialogue to break down these barriers. Most instances, women believe they should be in these unequal positions, since a novel concept being spoken of breaks the balance that has been maintained, and that rocks the boat for most. All across the world, leaders realise that for economic and development of any nation, these injustices need to be worked on. However, they also realise that a lot of funds are required to invest into this initiative. Hence, Orange the World.

Evidence shows that even relatively small-scale investments that are timely and well integrated can bring enormous benefits to women and their communities. Donate to support efforts to end violence against women and girls worldwide.

Join in this campaign, by sharing your photos, messages and videos showing how you orange the world at facebook.com/SayNO.UNiTE and twitter.com/SayNO_UNiTE using #orangetheworld and #16days. Follow the UN Women website for the 16 days of activism from across the globe.