महिलाओं के साथ पुरुषों को भी सशक्त करना होगा

महिलाओं के साथ पुरुषों को भी सशक्त करना होगा

March 30, 2019 | Gender

समाज… क्या हम रचनात्मक रूप से युवा पुरुषों के सशक्तीकरण की चुनौती का भी सामना कर सकते हैं?

रोहिणी निलेकणी
फाउंडर और चेयरपर्सन, अर्घ्यम

मशहूर टीवी सीरियल की तरह हम लड़कियों को यह उम्मीद देने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं कि ‘मैं कुछ भी कर सकती हूं।’ इसके परिणाम भी सकारात्मक आ रहे हैं। आज ज्यादातर लड़कियां स्कूल जाती हैं। उन्हें स्वास्थ्य से जुड़ी जानकारियां मिल रही हैं। उनके पास नए कौशल और नौकरी के अवसर हैं। महिला अधिकारों की रक्षा के लिए कई नए कानून बने हैं। फिर भी हमें एक लंबा रास्ता तय करना है। हर दिन हम महिलाओं के खिलाफ नए अपराधों के बारे में सुनते हैं। कभी-कभी तो ऐसा लगता है कि मानों चीजें पहले से भी ज्यादा खराब हो रही हैं, खासकर जब हम हिंसा के नए रूपों को देखते हैं।

क्या हम यहां कुछ मिस कर रहे हैं? शायद महिलाओं को सशक्त करते हुए हम समस्या के आधे हिस्से को अनदेखा कर रहे हैं। क्या इसलिए समाधान भी आधा ही मिल पाता है? अगर हम सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः के आधार पर चलें तो शायद हमें इस देश के 20 करोड़ से ज्यादा नौजवानों को स्पॉटलाइट में लाना होगा। कुछ घटनाएं बताती हूं, जो मेरे दिमाग में घर कर गईं। कर्नाटक के रामानगर में मैं 15 साल के एक लड़के से मिली थी। वह बहुत रो रहा था और उसकी छोटी बहन उसे चुप कराने की कोशिश कर रही थी। दसवीं की बोर्ड परीक्षा में टॉप करने वाला यह लड़का आगे की पढ़ाई करना चाहता था, लेकिन राज्य परिवहन निगम में उसे अच्छी नौकरी मिल गई थी इसलिए उसके पिता ने कहा कि वह आगे की पढ़ाई नहीं कर सकता। दूसरा किस्सा है जब एक बार हाइवे पर गुस्साए युवकों की भीड़ ने हमारी कार रोक दी थी। हाथ में लाठियां लिए ये एक एक्सीडेंट के विरोध में ट्रैफिक जाम कर रहे थे। इनमें से सबसे छोटा लड़का मुश्किल से दस साल का रहा होगा। उनके चेहरे पर आक्रामकता से भरी उत्तेजना थी। और तीसरी बात जिसने मुझे प्रभावित किया वह हाल ही का है, जब मैंने कई युवाओं को सिक्योरिटी गार्ड, सेल्स और सर्विस एजेंट की नौकरी पाने के लिए लाइन में खड़े हुए देखा है। ऐसी नौकरियों से केवल इतनी मजदूरी मिलती है, जिससे बस किसी तरह गुजर-बसर हो सके। उनकी आंखें आशा और निराशा दोनों से भरी थीं। मेरे लिए यह सभी घटनाएं गैलरी में रखे स्नैपशॉट की तरह हैं जो उस सच्चाई के बारे में बताता हैं, जिसका सामना 13 से 25 वर्ष की उम्र के बीच के कई लड़के और युवक कर रहे हैं।

मुझे नहीं लगता कि ऐसे नौजवान आत्मविश्वास से कह सकते हैं ‘मैं कुछ भी कर सकता हूं’। हम पुरुषों पर अपने बहुत सारे विचार थोप देते हैं, जैसे कि उन्हें मजबूत होना होगा, कमाने वाला बनना होगा और किसी भी हाल में सफल होना होगा। उन्हें परिवार की रक्षा करनी होगी और उसके लिए सम्मान अर्जित करना होगा। उन्हें महिलाओं के अधिकारों को बनाए रखना होगा और अपने कुछ पुराने अधिकारों को छोड़ना होगा। लाखों युवा इन उम्मीदों पर खरे नहीं उतर सकते, क्योंकि इनमें से बहुत से युवा अशिक्षित और बेरोजगार हैं। नई अर्थव्यवस्था के लिए आवश्यक नए कौशल उनके पास नहीं हैं। उनकी आकांक्षाएं जरूर बढ़ रही हैं लेकिन, उन सपनों को साकार करने का रास्ता उन्हें नहीं मिल पा रहा है। कई बार ऐसा भी होता है कि उनकी बहनें, पत्नी या फिर गर्लफ्रेंड आगे बढ़ जाती हैं। ऐसा लगता है कि पूरा देश महिलाओं को सुशिक्षित करने और कमाने के लिए प्रोत्साहित कर रहा है और इसके लिए नए अवसर भी पैदा कर रहा है। इससे कई नौजवान चिंतित और बेहद असुरक्षित हैं। उन्हें ऐसा महसूस होता है कि उनके भविष्य पर उनका कोई नियंत्रण नहीं है। फिर भी वो रो नहीं सकते। उन्हें घर पर भी कोई नहीं समझता। अपने साथियों के साथ उन्हें अपनी मर्दाना छवि को मजबूत बताना है और सब कुछ ठीक होने का दिखावा करना है। फिर क्या होगा? मुझे लगता है कि इसका जवाब हमारे दिलों में है। ये युवा या तो अपनी बेचैनी को दबाए रखेंगे या फिर आक्रामक रूप से प्रकट होंगे। दोनों ही बातों से युवा और समाज पर बुरा प्रभाव पड़ेगा।

बिना किसी डेटा या रिसर्च के ऐसा कहना मुश्किल है लेकिन, अगर हम एक अच्छा समाज और समृद्ध देश चाहते हैं, तो हमें इन 20 करोड़ नागरिकों की जरूरतों पर ध्यान देना होगा। उन्हें भी सुने जाने का, देखभाल का, शिक्षित और सशक्त होने का पूरा हक है। लड़कों के पास खुद को व्यक्त करने का विकल्प होना चाहिए, जैसे कि हम लड़कियों के लिए भी चाहते हैं। जैसे हम महिला सशक्तिकरण के लिए लगातार काम कर रहे हैं वैसे ही क्या हम रचनात्मक रूप से युवा पुरुषों के सशक्तीकरण की चुनौती का भी सामना कर सकते हैं? क्या नागरिक समाज संगठन एक ऐसा सुरक्षित मॉडल बना सकते हैं, जहां लड़के बिना हिचकिचाए एक-दूसरे से बात कर सकें, अपनी परेशानी साझा कर सकें? क्या हम लड़कों को कला या खेल सीखने या फिर बर्ड वॉचिंग के लिए समय दे सकते हैं? हमें पुरुषों के लिए यह सब करना होगा अगर हम सच में महिलाओं को सशक्त करना चाहते हैं, क्योंकि जब सशक्त महिलाएं असशक्त स्थितियों में वापस जाती हैं तो उनका सामना एक पिछड़ेपन से होता है। जहां उनकी नई आज़ादी को सक्रिय रूप से चुनौती दी जाती है। ऐसी स्थिति में या तो उन्हें विद्रोह करना होगा या फिर चुपचाप इसमें ही रहना होगा। इसमें से जो भी वे चुनेंगी वह बुरा ही होगा। सशक्त महिला को सशक्त पुरुष की जरूरत है। हमें यह सुनिश्चित करने की आवश्यकता है कि स्वस्थ, शिक्षित, कमाने वाली महिलाओं के लिए एक सपोर्टिव पार्टनर हो जो एक स्वस्थ, और खुश पुरुष हो। हमें एक साथ महिलाओं और पुरुषों के साथ काम करने की आवश्यकता है। इस तरह के बदलाव समाज में धीरे-धीरे होते हैं लेकिन, एक ऐसे देश में जहां 50% से ज्यादा युवा रहते हैं, हमें चीजों को गति देने की जरूरत है। क्या हम सब इसमें सहभागी बन सकते हैं? मुझे यकीन है कि इसकी शुरुआत होगी घरों से। सिर्फ मां नहीं, पिता को भी अपने बेटे से बात करने की जरूरत है। हमें यह सुनिश्चित करना होगा कि वो खुद को अकेला महसूस न करें। शायद हम पहली बार असफल हों, लेकिन, समय के साथ सब बदलने लगेगा। एक साथ, एक संवेदनापूर्ण समाज बनाएं, जहां युवा पुरुषों और महिलाओं को न तो खतरा महसूस होता है, न ही एक दूसरे को धमकी देने की जरूरत या इच्छा हो। तब जाकर शायद यह कह पाएंगे कि ‘हम कुछ भी कर सकते हैं’।

 

Masculinity and India’s Young Men | Rohini Nilekani’s Address at OTV’s Prerana 2019

Masculinity and India’s Young Men | Rohini Nilekani’s Address at OTV’s Prerana 2019

March 2, 2019 | Gender

Rohini Nilekani’s talk on Masculinity and India’s Young Men at OTV’s Prerana 2019.

View Keynote Video

 

Transcript

Or at least 70 million women are in self help groups in this country and they’re learning to find ways to make themselves stronger. All of today’s women we know you saw how much they have come on their own feet and done such amazing things. So we should all celebrate that first. So let us all clap for all the women in this country who have moved forward.

[applause]

It has been a very hard journey and we have a long way to go. If you read the newspapers or if you watch TV you will know how far we still have to go. Every day we hear of rapes, we hear of violence, we hear of this, fear of that. The MeToo movement has allowed some of these things to come out. So that’s very important. But if you stop and turn the mirror around, what do we see? And that’s what I want to talk about for the next…

There are 230 million young men in this country below the age of 18. And about another 80 million men between the ages of 18 and 25. If you look at the data, too many million of these young men are uneducated or under-educated. They are unemployed or underemployed. Their jobs are at risk, their livelihoods are at risk because the job scenario is changing very fast. Many of them don’t have good role models in their house. Many of them are trapped in what we call patriarchy masculine remodels. Key, how should boys be?

Always we tell our boys and men to behave like that. So, when you imagine the pressure of always having to be like that. Especially when we look at young people. I have seen and I’ve been reading about this and meeting some people through my work. There is a lot of fear and a lot of insecurity among the men of India today. And actually it’s a global phenomenon because the future of work is not what it used to be. And in their houses, they may find that their sisters or their mothers or their daughters are maybe doing well and sometimes they may not see their own path so clearly. So, the point I’m making is that men in their own right, especially young boys and young men need some help. Need us all, as women, as citizens, as citizens of this country to look at what is happening to this cohort of 200 million young men. Unlike for the women, they don’t have safe shared spaces to speak about their masculinity, their sexuality or fear if they can’t speak about it…

When they talk in their peer groups, the same message gets reinforced very often. So there is no place for young men to go, young boys to go and ask.

“Ma, how come you expect me to be very, very responsible and you don’t expect the same thing of my brother?” I said.

said…

The boys get away with it. We don’t expect much from them in the house as we expect from the daughters.

Can we be kind? Can we be sensitive? Do we always have to be the breadwinners? If our wives earn more than us, does that mean that we are small? We are not good men? Is there anybody doing work like this? And I found that there are very, very, very few organizations in India that are doing that work. Many organizations who are working with women to also start working with this young vulnerable group of boys. You know why? You know why? One is…

Say important questions safely, without being ridiculed. We need to create a society where men do not have to be burdened with old ideas of masculinity. It is 2019. If women have changed so much, we need to give men the space to change. Because otherwise, when an empowered woman goes into a disempowered situation at home, she has two bad choices. One is she can regress or second, she has to rebel. Both are very bad choices. It is much better that all of us, especially those of us who have sons, those of us… Everybody has a male in their house, most people. It is time I think to begin these conversations right in the house. We need men to be as empowered as we want women to be.

Gender Equity: Working with Young Men and Boys | We The Women, Bangalore

Gender Equity: Working with Young Men and Boys | We The Women, Bangalore

October 7, 2018 | Gender

Rohini Nilekani speaks to Raghu Karnad on why we must engage men as stakeholders and co-beneficiaries in gender equity.

View Video

 

Transcript

00:02 Raghu Karnad: Rohini, I think you had an idea about how you wanted to begin this session. Do you wanna take it?

00:07 Rohini Nilekani: Yeah. So first of all, Namaskāra ellarigu. It’s fantastic to be here. Thank you, Barkha. Thank you, all of you, very much. So…

00:17 RN: We’re gonna have a short conversation, but I hope an important one. But I asked Raghu if I could do this. I know you’ve had a very emotional day and a long, tiring day, moments of high inspiration, moments of desperation. I’m sure a lot of things. I heard about some of it in the room behind. So I’m gonna ask for your patience. What if we were to take only 30 seconds, and you’re the counter for that, no more than that, just to close our eyes and to visualize a world of gender equity, of males, females, and the transgenders, a world of gender equity. What does it look like when we close our eyes for 30 seconds? Let’s try.

[pause]

01:25 RN: It felt good to me, quite colorful.

01:28 RK: That was about 30 seconds. I was beginning to see the outlines of a picture. But do you want to tell us whether you were starting to see something?

01:38 RN: I think what I see when I visualize that is somehow I see a little more of a peaceful balance, like bright colors but that are peaceful. And so much of everything to do with this topic is about aggression and force, that a kinder, gentler world, maybe I’m getting old or something, but seems like something to look forward to.

02:05 RK: Yes. It seemed that I think I was starting to see something similar. I just felt that a world where there’s less fear and insecurity…

02:13 RN: Yes, yes.

02:17 RK: Across the board is probably one that would be much more fair.

02:18 RN: Absolutely right.

02:20 RK: But Rohini, I’ve been… To bring it back from that utopia to the imperfect world we live in today…

02:26 RN: Yes.

02:27 RK: I’ve been really looking forward to this conversation because I think that we have arrived here this afternoon from two different places. So I just flew in from Bombay, which I’m sure most of you are aware is the eye of a storm right now, and it’s a storm of public reckoning for upper class and generally quite powerful men…

02:53 RN: Yes.

02:53 RK: Who are facing the consequences and are having to explain themselves, or having to acknowledge the ways that they have harassed or mistreated women in their lives and in their workplaces. And a lot of those men are men who remind me of myself. And so a lot of men like me are also thinking very hard about ways in which we might have done that in our own lives and in our own workplaces. And there are no simple questions there. I promise you that. Whereas, I think, where you’re coming from in this conversation, having… I’ve been very affected by the last three days. I think what you’ve been thinking about recently is the last 20 years of your life. You spent 20 years of your life doing, very involved in inspiring social work in all sorts of fields and water education, conservation…

03:48 RN: Yes.

03:50 RK: And self-employment, a lot of it that tends to concentrate on helping and targeting women and girls.

04:00 RN: Yes.

04:01 RK: But it also has made you… It has also exposed you to men. It has also made you look at men who are from a very different place. These aren’t the men of the powerful often. These aren’t public figures of the elite. These are men who are poor or working class and are vulnerable and often powerless themselves.

04:21 RN: Yes.

04:22 RK: So do you want to tell us… I guess I’ve sketched out the men that I’ve been paying attention to, who are at the top of the power pyramid. Do you wanna tell us who you’ve been seeing, who comes to mind, when you think of…

04:32 RN: Sure, sure. First of all, let me say I’m in complete empathy with the frustration that women all over the world are feeling. Just when it feels like we have arrived somewhere, that there are opportunities… We just heard about opportunities in science, we’ve seen numbers really going up in terms of participation in politics. In India, actually, there are one million, one million elected women, when you count the Panchayat leaders, and that is a number unparalleled anywhere in the world. It doesn’t mean that they’re fully empowered, but they are participating. And I just was looking at some Canadian college numbers where three-to-two is the ratio of men to women, women to men. So a lot of things are happening, just when we feel like, “Oh, my God, are we turning the corner in this new century?” There seems to be such a backlash and things that we couldn’t have imagined beginning to happen again. So let me start by saying I’m in total, total solidarity on that.

05:28 RN: But working for 20 years in education, usually with girl children, making sure they’re coming to the school, stay in the school and stuff, working in microfinance, where again, India is a real leader in the world, 65 million women are part of self-help groups or SHGs, which really was extremely transformative for women in India, and especially rural women. They were able to find safe places to share, to get loans, and somehow improve their economic and social lives. Having worked in these sectors, and especially water, we worked in lifeline water in Arghyam and that really affects the women directly. So making sure that the domestic water is available meant that you have to focus a lot on women. But while doing all this over the last three or four years, my attention has moved to adolescent boys and very young men, up to the age of, say, 21, 22, before they get into the workforce.

06:29 RN: And I must say that I’ve spent a lot of time, done a lot of reading about what is the situation of these. Raghu, we have 230 million men just under the age of 18, and if you add between 18 and, say, 22, 24, that takes that number up significantly. Now, we all know and there have been surveys, and we have heard that the surveys tell us that 50% of men in India, and boys too, seem to think it’s all right if a woman behaves a little badly or makes a badly-shaped roti, to give her a bit of a lesson, usually leading to violence, and they believe that women’s place is in the kitchen and a lot of the things that you would think have no place in the 21st century. Now, just imagine if 50% of 230 million men, as they grow up, begin to practice those beliefs. Then I started looking… Did you want to ask something or can I say a few more points?

07:27 RK: No. Please.

07:28 RN: Then I started looking, okay, why is this happening? Let’s go upstream of the women’s empowerment question and say, what is going on with these young boys and men? What is happening to them? And I realized, and I used to read these when I was young, when I was reading up all the feminist literature I could get my hands on, that men too are, as Barkha pointed out, trapped in… Very much trapped in their patriarchal identities. At home, the women in their lives enforce that also, as we know. And really, the context for me is mainly India. I’m not so sure about the rest of the world. These are now today in India’s developing economy, young people with unleashed aspirations, with mobile phones in their hands, but undereducated, underemployed, often unemployable, stuck in geographies where there are no jobs of their… Matching their skills, very few role models, positive male role models in their houses, often broken families, migration, nobody had no male, good male hero to look up to at home, opportunities galore to join all kind of lumpen groupings, political and otherwise.

08:36 RN: And on the other hand, very few places to talk about their sexuality, to talk about their frustrations, to talk about their fears. In the last 40 years, the non-profit sector in India has done… Made tremendous strides. We have some fantastic NGOs that have worked with very vulnerable girls and young women, and tried to give them some safe spaces to talk, to share, to bond, to feel safer. I believe, Raghu, that there is a lacuna, which we have not addressed when it comes to the same thing for young men and boys. And that’s where my work began.

09:14 RK: Yeah, I think I agree with you, and it’s a difficult subject to speak about in the sense that one has to… That it’s very easily misunderstood. So one of the things we have all begun to learn, especially over the last couple of years, is that patriarchy is not something that exists only… That only affects women or only affects men. It’s the social matrix that we live in and it compels us to do a lot of things that both men and women would be healthier and happier if we were not doing. And I think that’s a decent definition of patriarchy, which means that everyone knows that a lot of male behavior needs to change and a lot of men need to change their behavior. But we haven’t done a lot of thinking about how exactly to enable or to help men to change their behavior. And I think the reason that everyone is hesitant to go there is that it sounds like a way, a back door way, of saying men need empowerment or men need more power.

10:16 RK: That’s clearly not the case, but no one knows how to change without help, in a sense. And so I want to ask you about two different things, and you can choose which one we should take first. I’m curious about what kind of change you think we need in men at the top of the power pyramid, the place I described, which is the place where we’re realizing a lot of men who have very enlightened political positions, again, like myself, don’t necessarily have such enlightened behavior. And there’s some reform and some very profound change that needs to happen there. But also, what you think needs to happen in practical terms, what’s possible to help men change in the much larger population of men who aren’t as privileged.

11:12 RN: No, I mean, I don’t have all the answers, but having watched, having had a ringside seat, thanks to Nandan, I’ve had a ringside seat to all the elite power structures of the world, and I’ve watched men, often white men in dark suits, exercise tremendous amounts of power without… They don’t have to do anything, they just have all the power. And certainly, they… In conversations, they don’t appear as though they are retrograde or what we used to call in my younger days, male chauvinist pigs, we used to keep saying that, but at the same time, power is like that. When you have power, you can use it, and when you use it, often you are not aware of how you’re using that power, how the person on whom you are exercising that power really perceives your power.

12:00 RN: So you think you’re fine and that you’re doing all the right things and you’re just being nice to all these women. But I think much more self-awareness has to come, and surely, with all that’s happening around us today, I think clearly the power structures are shifting, which is why you’re seeing men as literally frightened and insecure. “How am I supposed to behave?” Some of these elite, so-called elite men, have been speaking to some of us and saying, “We’re a bit nervous. We don’t know where to… What is this line? Why is it not as clear to us as it should be?” So there’s a lot of evolution going on in sort of rapid form as we speak, which is a good thing. So elite men, their world is being changed, their power is being questioned. And when power structures shift like that, so rapidly… 50 years is nothing. 100 years is nothing.

12:48 RN: It’s a rapid shift of power. Things happen, reactions happen, people get confused. We have to smoothen that transition by being innovative too. So when it comes to the larger set of people who themselves, in India especially, we are such a hierarchical society that everybody’s trying to oppress the people just below them. So at the very bottom of it would be… I don’t want to use caste words, but the lowest caste person with the least sort of economic security is at the bottom of the thing, and he is experiencing a lot of violence himself. And guess who he is going to express his violence on? Someone who’s even below him, which might be the wife or the daughter or the woman next door. So that’s how it’s all playing out. And I feel that we do need to ask what men feel, both in a creative sense and in a programmatic sense, and help them to be less fearful of the future, of losing power. And that’s very tricky to do.

13:49 RK: So is it fair to say that one of the things that men fear, which is a patriarchal expectation that’s very firmly strapped on to them, is an inability to be a provider or to earn a livelihood? Again, it depends on where your position is. It might be merely to earn a livelihood and to feed your family, or it might be the inability to display great economic power, if you’re from a higher class. But in a sense, that pressure bears down especially heavily on men, and for many people, it’s becoming harder and harder to attain.

14:28 RN: Exactly. Imagine you are expected… See, women, we want them to participate in the workforce because we know what it does for women and what it does for the workforce itself. It transforms it. Like Osha says, “The women’s side is the lunar side and the male side is the solar side.” And if you were to bring a little more of the lunar side into the office, I think it would be a better place. So we want… 39% participation of the women in the workforce is not a good thing, in the organized workforce, because women are in the workforce from morning ’til night anyway, but they’re not paid for it. But we want to bring them and it’s an aspiration. But for men, it’s not an aspiration. It’s an expectation. If you are not in the workforce and you’re not bringing in the bread, you’re not much of a man, are you? That’s the… So the pressures are very high, and given people are talking about automation, replacing the kind of work that men know how to do today, just get inside that man’s head and say, “What does the future look like and just how frightening is it?”

15:25 RK: Yeah. Exactly. And we’re looking at a future in which really radical changes have to be contemplated about; not for men and for women, about what the linkage is between your livelihood and your ability to have a job, just because there will be fewer and fewer jobs. But one of the things we don’t want to see happen is to see men’s insecurity be rerouted…

15:50 RN: Exactly.

15:50 RK: Or re-channelled more into proving their masculinity…

15:55 RN: Absolutely.

15:56 RK: Through violence on the women around them, or through other kinds of violence.

16:00 RN: Yes.

16:01 RK: Through broader political violence…

16:02 RN: Political violence. Exactly right.

16:02 RK: Which is also very clearly happening. Have you had a chance to begin to explore…

16:11 RN: Yes.

16:12 RK: The pragmatic ways in which we can help men who probably have never even considered the language in which they can retool their masculinity?

16:25 RN: Exactly right. So when my colleague, Gautam John, who’s somewhere here, and I started this journey three years ago, saying, “Okay, we understand this. But who in India is working with these vulnerable groups of boys, adolescent boys and young men?” And we found there were really very, very few institutions. Many work with women. Almost none work with men. So we found one or two, MAVA is there, ECF is there. And we asked them on our behalf to do a national conversation with NGOs who work with women, and some of whom work with boys, and say, “Can we come up with some creative, innovative programs that we’ll just begin pilots?” So for example, ECF works with 13, 14-year-old boys. They give them some spaces to come on a routine basis. They allow them to question these hierarchies of power, talk about gender, talk about sexuality, ask them, “How do you feel about your sister, your mother, your friend?” etcetera.

17:19 RN: Give them actual things, projects to work on, and develop ethical leadership which is moving towards gender equity also. It gives them time. It gives them space. It gives them empathy. And there are many others. There’s Men Against Violence. So there are some new organizations springing up. And we would very much like to seed and help that to happen. Because at the end of it, I really feel there’s no way we can achieve our women empowerment goals unless we also work with this group to make them much more secure, so that they don’t have to express their masculinity only in abuse, violence, or generally trying to repress the power of women, and the exuberance of women, and the nurturing of women, and everything else.

18:07 RK: It reminds me of something that a very wise friend of mine once told me. His name is Gautam Bhan. He’s an urban scholar and an LGBT activist. And he told me, “You know, Indian society is never going to be friendly to homosexuality until it’s friendly to heterosexuality.”

18:25 RN: Yes.

18:26 RK: Because it’s not like Indian… India has not been kind to people who are straight. Some of us who are privileged to get away with it, but for most, you would just have to walk through the park in any Indian city and you’ll find people whose sexuality is terribly repressed even when it’s directed against the opposite sex.

18:43 RN: Absolutely.

18:44 RK: I think in a similar way, and I want to phrase this carefully, we’re not going to find a way forward to safe and respectful sex for women until we can help men understand sex themselves as well.

19:03 RN: I think so. When we asked around, there were very few places where men could talk about sex. And in schools I think we have some diagrammatic something, which is not very… People feel embarrassed about and don’t know what to…

19:17 RK: That’s just talking about genitals.

19:18 RN: So, yeah. I mean, I saw a couple of textbooks and I said, “That’s not how I want to learn about sex.” So I think we need to be able to speak about it without shame, and that it is natural. But how can we look at sex without the use of power over the other? I think that’s what men have to also be introduced to right away. And about consent, which has become such a powerful word today. So what does that mean for both young men and young women? I think we need that kind of ability. There is somebody who started a subscription service where women and men can privately subscribe to it and learn about things like that on the privacy of their mobile phones, which is a kind of good thing because it doesn’t see… Apparently young men don’t talk to their parents about this, I wonder why.

[laughter]

20:07 RN: But they don’t. And maybe sometime a day will come when they could. But you’re absolutely right. We have to talk about sex in a very young country like India. Talk about it with respect, without shame, and absolutely with ideas of consent, equity, and gentleness right from the get-go.

20:28 RK: Yeah. I always think of… This is a… I always think of… So sometimes people ask me… Sometimes when I’m having a conversation about feminism, I know that we… We’re gonna avoid calling any men feminists right now. But men who have tried to support feminism. I think that we could really do with new ways of looking at these things to understand how they are about our mutual driving.

21:01 RN: Yes. Humanism. Yeah.

21:02 RK: Exactly. Feminism is, the best way that I can understand it, is not meant to be about passing… It would be great to have a women’s representation law in Parliament, and we should have that as soon as possible, but that’s policy. I think feminism is a lived experience. It’s about improving the relationships with other people in your lives and in your family. It can be about improving your relationship with your mother or with your sister or with your wife, or whoever the case is…

21:33 RN: Or friend. Yeah.

21:33 RK: And vice versa. By greater understanding, openness, and the ability to communicate. I think that’s a great baseline.

21:42 RN: I agree.

21:43 RK: But that’s not how anyone is taught it. It’s not how anyone is expected to approach feminism. That’s…

21:52 RN: Yeah. So feminism, so importantly in the last 200 years brought forth the issues of a whole half of humanity that was not allowed to express themselves. Right? Now, I think we also need to look even beyond that to kind of expressing more human values at a time of political polarization, tremendous aggression in the public sphere, and inability to actually talk to each other, it’s not just men and women. It almost seems like we’re launching sex wars between genders. And then groups of people who believe in this or believe in that and just are unable to get together and speak across divides. I think that’s not good for any excluded group at all. To find more common ground, at least to engage in civil discourse. I think those are the next steps that feminism, or humanism, or anything where we hope for a much better future for our poor species [chuckle] all together, I think we should start innovating. I think empowered women, like the one in this room, I think can come up with a… And empowered men. I see quite a few of them. I think this is our next challenge. How do we go beyond these divides?

23:05 RK: I think that seems like a very good point to me. Because Me Too had to take the form it did for a particular reason, which is that one woman’s voice making a complaint about an experience she had wasn’t enough to get her any fairness. So it needed to have collective voices rallying behind every woman who raised her voice.

23:27 RN: Yes.

23:27 RK: And then that began to have its effect. And suddenly we can see that any time that a woman raises her voice saying “me too” and is backed by the others, it has more and more momentum, and more and more effect. And…

23:45 RN: Yeah. So I do want to say that when I talk about working with young men and boys, and putting some resources, and ask for resources publicly to be put into this space, I don’t mean that you take away resources from women. There is far too longer journey to be made to get women to become equal citizens, to become people… To achieve their own human potential. It’s not a zero sum game. Working with young men and boys doesn’t mean you lose something on this side. This side, there’s a lot of creativity it needs to be pursued. I’m asking for equal creativity on this side and there’s so much potential to do it, especially now.

24:29 RK: Exactly, that’s the point I was headed for when I was speaking about Me Too. Now that Me Too has really begun to impress on us, and it’s broken through a big wall of denial that men have, and it’s broken through men’s denial that we are actually basically treating everyone fairly. And now we can see all of the real behavior that goes on. Now, or at some point in the future, and I don’t think there are any simple answers to it, but I’m looking forward to that point. It’ll become clearer what men can do that’s proactive.

25:03 RN: What… You’re a man. What do you think… If you were to look at a bunch of 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds around that awkward age of puberty, trying to be a little gundagiri nice, and all of us are friends and we can show all those women, all the young girls, we can just show a little of our power. What would change? What do you think should be done to make them say that… To make them put themselves in those girl’s skin as well? Is it music? Is it sport? Is it shared conversations with those same girls who we are planning to Eve tease? What could happen? Think of something. Challenge.

[laughter]

25:43 RK: I think there are ways. There are actual educational tools I believe that exist that allow people to learn empathy and allow people to experience more empathy between different kinds of groups, when you have different social identities, and I think those would be very valuable. But also, yeah, right now seems… Before we reach the point where men can again become very proactive feminists, or feminist allies as you like, it seems like a good time for men to be listening and to be thinking about themselves. So, whether it’s… I don’t know exactly how capable of introspection 12-year-olds are, but I’m sure it’s there. 35-year-olds also are not doing so well. But it’s definitely there. We all need to… It’s a very good time for men to be paying attention to who we are. You know?

26:36 RN: Yes.

26:37 RK: We don’t just have to look at the women who are making these accusations and try to scrutinise those situations and understand what happened there, and what’s his problem, and what’s her problem.

26:48 RN: Right.

26:48 RK: There’s a lot we can learn from changing the filters on how we view ourselves and our own behavior. And I think everyone has a few unhappy surprises lying in store there. I’m not gonna lie. The last few years, the last few days have…

27:01 RN: So do women. It’s not just men. Women can have them too.

27:04 RK: Yeah.

27:05 RN: When one looks back at one’s own life. Each woman. I’m sure there are some spaces where we wish we had behaved differently. So, it’s a good time for introspection all around. I wish more men would take this on as solidly as you seem to. So, we shall hope for that.

27:21 RK: Well, it seems like we’re at the beginning of something, of some big changes.

27:26 RN: And we should keep principles of real justice in mind even when we are fighting against injustice. Which is where always Gandhi comes to mind, that when you’re fighting against injustice, the tools you… The ends and means question, which he never fails to remind us of. When we are fighting against injustice, we should be careful of the tools we use, that the tools themselves don’t become unjust in the process and don’t stand the tests of justice.

27:54 RK: Well, there’s lots of philosophies about how to fight for things. There’s that one and then there’s the more Bolshevik revolutionary philosophy, which is just that you burn everything down and see what you can rebuild afterwards. [chuckle]

28:05 RN: Yeah, boil the ocean. Yeah.

28:06 RK: We’ll have to choose… We’ll have to figure out a way between those. So I’m gonna ask you a slightly challenging question while we still have time. And I think that this also connects what we’re talking about to a very large global debate right now. We need to retool masculinity and we need to help… We need to facilitate and enable various kinds of men to rethink what being men should be and what it could be. The question that hangs over that is, How much of what we traditionally define as masculinity, which you might call patriarchal masculinity or you might see it differently. How much of that is worth preserving? Is it completely a patriarchal mindset? Is it completely exploitative and unfair? Or are there elements of what masculinity means that actually belong refurbished in the new picture? Do you have any feelings about that?

29:05 RN: Yeah. It’s a complicated question. I think, because it’s a spectrum, right? I think maybe if we were to bifurcate biology and culture we would get somewhere. I don’t think we’re trying to change the male and female biology, yet. Although I see a point where science will take us there too. But if there are some biological issues which take evolutionary cycles that are very, very long, and I don’t know. But culture, what happens in culture, we can change all norms and we’re seeing those changes happening. So biology shifts which create different societal norms are more likely to… Sorry, cultural shifts are to be pushed and can be pushed in different creative ways. Biology though might have the last word in many things. So what we carry forward in gender roles sometimes… The role of the mother with a young infant and all that is associated with that, whereas the situation of the father outside that nurturing and trying to nurture, some of those things are kind of difficult to change so rapidly. Does that answer what you were trying to say.

30:16 RK: No, it does, it does exactly. But we can’t… But your feeling is that there’s a whole world of… There’s a whole sort of cosmos of cultural behaviors that we can change and that we’re free to…

30:28 RN: Absolutely.

30:28 RK: Rework however we see…

30:30 RN: And they are shifting. How many of you know of at least a handful of men who you think would already fit into those 30 seconds when you visualised a gender equitable society? How many of you think you already know some men who come close? Oh okay, that’s it? Okay. Some 50, 60 hands went up, which means 200 hands didn’t. Oh dear. Okay, I don’t think I’m so right, then we have much further to go.

31:02 RK: We have some ways to go.

31:03 RN: But I know a lot of men and I’m going to count Raghu among them, who have really done a lot of introspection, evolved. And a lot of women who had to evolve with those men too. So I feel pretty hopeful.

31:17 RK: I feel hopeful too, and where I’m concerned I try to remember that all of what’s coming out right now that feels like bad news is good news because it’s coming out. I don’t think any of this…

31:31 RN: Sure, sunlight.

31:32 RK: Wasn’t happening in the past, I think what we have been having ever since 2012 is a revolution in our awareness, and that’s the main thing that’s been changing and it’s an opportunity for all of us. It’s definitely an opportunity for men to be better people and to… No one I know wants to make anyone, male or female, uncomfortable, or make them feel frightened. And so, I really welcome and I’m grateful that we have an opportunity in which we see the ways in which we are doing that because awareness is a big challenge to even just to start out.

32:14 RN: Absolutely. So it’s a new journey, and from my work perspective I am very engaged and excited to see what’s happening. But I also think this is a very powerful moment, not just in India but around the world. And powerful because power is shifting, and when you watch power shifting, all the things that happen with it is what we are experiencing. But I don’t think you can put the toothpaste back in the tube. The toothpaste is out and we are… All the women are going to smile with shiny teeth. You can’t change that back.

32:50 RK: Can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. That’s a very useful way of putting it. Now, that really covered all of the questions I wanted to ask. But I do want to give you a chance to, if you want to share any of the ideas that you’ve learnt from… What are being implemented internationally about the way forward and what it might be.

33:09 RN: In America, in the inner cities especially, black men used to mentor young black boys because the whole culture over there where they felt so trapped, that’s a good example to take from. In the Favelas in Latin America there have been a lot of experiments with both sports and music where young boys have been… To try to create positive experiences of bonding for them and positive things to look forward to. Those are something that just beginning to happen in India. And others were a lot of structured classroom and non-classroom mentoring programs, one-on-one and one-to-many, and lots of modules have been developed for empathy creation, gender equity, understanding, experiencing, sharing, reducing fear. So there are examples and I hope we can bring some of that here and I look forward to that.

34:00 RK: I don’t doubt it. And I’m really glad to know that you are… That it’s something that you’re focusing on. And thank you so much for bringing it into the conversation at just the right time, I think.

34:08 RN: So, to all the women here thank you for listening to this and not… I felt that there was a real listening here. I hope we can ourselves reach out to the young men and boys around us with empathy. Because at the end of it we don’t want women’s power to look like the bad side of male power in the future. So how can we keep the torch light on ourselves to not become that which we right now are against? So that empathy, if we can keep nurturing in ourselves, I hope that all you young people in the room will face a better world than looks like on media right now. Thank you.

Want empowered women? Start thinking about how to help young men – India Development Review (IDR)

Want empowered women? Start thinking about how to help young men – India Development Review (IDR)

December 14, 2017 | Gender

We need to turn to the 200 million young men of India with as much urgency and focus as we spend on the millions of young women in the country – By Rohini Nilekani.
Every day, we hear of horrible atrocities that have taken place against girls and women in India. This is despite the fact that as a country, we can boast of having some of the most progressive policies and civic movements. It is despite the fact that we have the world’s largest pool of elected women representatives – adding up to more than one million across all tiers of government. It is despite the fact that tens of millions of women belong to self help groups that are working to empower them. And, it is despite the fact that as a society, we are becoming more and more aware of our inherent gender bias and gender based problems.

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The Plight of the Young Indian Man- The Bridge Talks

The Plight of the Young Indian Man- The Bridge Talks

October 27, 2016 | Gender

Addressing the peripheral status of men and boys in discussions on ‘gender’, Rohini Nilekani challenges us to be inclusive in our efforts towards ‘gender’ empowerment.

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Transcript

00:03 Rohini Nilekani: Namaste everyone. Thank you Anant. Thanks to Caravan. Thanks to The Bridge for inviting me here. I was resisting Anant quite strongly actually because I said I’m not an expert on this, but eventually I agreed because I’m sure y’all have heard a lot about women empowerment today and women’s issues, and we all know how big they are, especially in India. But I thought I would use my time and I agreed to do this to air out something that’s been bothering me for the last few years, in my work and through my reading. Now, I’ve never spoken about this in a public platform before, so all of you have to be rather kind when I’m talking and later as well.

00:44 RN: So let me give you some background. Anant has said something but very quickly about my work, I was a journalist. But when I gave up journalism, though I continue to write occasionally, I have worked in the non-profit sector for the past 20 years. And through my philanthropy, I’ve been active in issues of education, microfinance, ecology, arts and culture, governance, and especially water through my foundation Arghyam, and we support work in 23 states to help communities have better water. And that has given me a window into grassroots organisations all around the country, and working in especially hard geographies and social conditions. I’ve also had as some of you may know a ring-side seat in the last 35 years, thanks to my husband, Nandan Nilekani, into the amphitheatre of the corporate world, and a little bit into the innards of government when he was in government. So in that sense, that’s the perspective I’m bringing to my talk today, coming from both samaaj and bazaar and sarkar.

01:46 RN: I want to talk and help us all to look at the question of boys and young men, both in their own right and also with respect to women. I’m gonna share with you some images that have stayed stark in my mind over the last few years. One is the huge yellowing eyes of a 12-year-old Musahari boy. I don’t like to use the term ‘Musahari’, but that’s what they’re called in North Bihar, in an small island in the Koshi river where no government services were available. He was suffering from azar-azar, and was barely literate, had barely left that island and was waiting to be transported to a hospital. Just his face stays in my mind.

02:28 RN: I remember the copious tears of a young boy I met on a roadside who with his sister, actually on a field trip that I was on, he had done very well in his board exams, but his father had said, “There’s no way you can study further, I’ve got you a job in a government organization, and that’s what you’re going to do.” I’m sure this must be familiar to all of you, but the body language of both hope and despair of dozens of young men in an employment queue, armed with their 10th or 12th standard degrees, and in much of India, 10th fail is also considered quite a respectable thing, almost like a degree to have. And waiting and praying for a job that will barely hold their body and soul together as a security guard or as a sales person.

03:10 RN: And another thing was the resigned look on the face of a very raw and very freshly scrubbed pani-puri vendor in Bangalore, who right in front of me had to hand over a bribe to a sub-inspector, not even to a constable. And then I remember the macho threatening behavior of a group of rather angry young men who had stopped cars on a highway because there had been an accident and one of their people had been injured. To me, these are snapshots that assemble a sort of portrait, a gallery of the reality faced by 200 million boys and young men in this country, probably the largest such cohort in the world, between the ages of say 13 to 25.

03:56 RN: And as we all know, I won’t dwell on this, but India has made great strides to reduce the inequality between men and women in terms of legal rights, economic opportunities, personal empowerment and more. We have several laws as you all know to protect women and help them advance. One of the greatest institutions that we have supported over the last 30 years has been the development of self-help groups. There are 70 million women in self-help groups around the country, and that enables them to have acc… To platforms to share, they are able to access credit, to get state support and much more. We’ve included women by quota in local government, and India has a unique pride of having more than one million elected representatives as women representatives across governments in the country. We also have several policies to support the education of the girl child and special drive for maternal and child health and I could just go on and on.

04:52 RN: But what is beginning to worry me greatly is that have we swung the pendulum too far? Where is the similar support for these 200 million young men? We all would agree that they too have their rights, their needs, their burdens, especially coming from the strong patriarchal structure that India has been living with for centuries. We know that they are restricted by gender stereotypes. We all know also that by not conforming, they can be subject to merciless bullying. And of course the concept of masculinity is very conditional, you cannot be masculine if you’re emotional or sensitive or compassionate. And we all know how hard it is to escape these social beliefs, even though masculinity is being redefined in the 21st century. And I’m not even including all the extra challenges of being a young male of a lower caste or a lower economic class or of a different sexual orientation. I’m simply talking about the burden of being young male with hormones no doubt raging, with no kind of stable relationships perhaps, and locked into predetermined notions of how to be a boy and then a man.

06:06 RN: Now, this conversation has opened up around the world over the last few decades but not so much in India. And I believe that, unless we are prepared to see this, that men too are trapped… I don’t believe we can make that much progress towards peace or harmony or the kind of empowerment that the previous panel was talking about. And I’m sure y’all have been hearing all day. And yet often, people talk of men as people who need to change so that women can be better off, not what they need in their own right. So can we go beyond that thinking to root causes? Can we look into the faces of those millions of men, and we see them all over the place in Delhi as well, with their fears, their insecurities, their lack of access to good education, skilling, to jobs, to secure relationships, and can we creatively confront the challenge to make a positive change? Where are the safe platforms for men, like the SHGs, where they can share their questions about sexuality, about patriarchy, about masculinity, and the burden of being male? Do we have structured activities anywhere in the country that are secular, not necessarily political party-based or religion-based that get young men together to play sports, to learn music, to do theater, or bird watching or anything at all. Are there enough state-sponsored programs for adolescent, low income, urban boys for example. The answer to all is mostly no, no, and only very little.

07:43 RN: Look at our legal frameworks, for example. Law making in India mostly can be pretty shoddy at times, and some laws might have gone too far to protect women, leaving men in a fairly precarious state. The Anti-Dowry Act is a rather vexed case, that has engaged both men and women activists alike. For one, I don’t think it has achieved its social goal of eliminating dowry, far from it. And on the other hand, there has been some abuse of the law to the point where staunchly feminist organizations that I work with and know, have been thinking of re-looking at some of its provisions. The Supreme Court in one case even said, and I quote, “As noted above, the object is to strike at the roots of dowry menace, but by misuse of the provision, a new legal terrorism can be unleashed. The provision is intended to be used as a shield and not an assassin’s weapon.” Very tough tough words. But the point is that when non-bailable offences are created, the police need to be extra careful to screen complaints, and to make sure that the accused can be justifiably arrested for the alleged crime.

08:49 RN: Not enough of us are agitated about these issues, I believe, because we think that these things will not happen to the men we know, and I think we are living in fools paradise. Take the case of one Naseema Begum who in 1995, filed a case against a young man who forcibly kissed her, causing some injury to her lip and no doubt a lot of injury to her soul. The criminal case was settled in 2012, awarding the accused a sentence of six months imprisonment. An appeal to Sessions Court was denied, the appellant had argued that the accused was a juvenile at the time of the incident and should have been protected under the law, then in force, which should have sent him actually to a Juvenile Justice Board and not a criminal court. But the court sent him to prison for six months, 18 years after the crime was committed, when both the woman and the man had settled into different marriages, and also had children. And it had this to say, “In the instant case, as the appellant has committed a heinous crime and with the social condition prevailing in the society, the modesty of a woman has to be strongly guarded, and as the appellant behaved like a roadside Romeo, we do not think it is a fit case, where the benefit of the 1958 Act, leniency in sentencing for juvenile offenders should be given to the appellant.”

10:10 RN: I’m going to leave it to you all to decide whether this seems fair, and when it is said that the modesty of a woman has to be strongly guarded, does it serve men? Does it serve women? Or does it serve any gender at all? And whether it doesn’t come from the same strong patriarchal framework that we all need to confront and possibly reject or absolutely reject. Suffice it to say that I’ve been feeling that if I were a man and if I’d really read all the laws that applied to me in India, I would be pretty nervous indeed.

10:43 RN: The state of course lags behind but so does civil society. The research I did for this revealed that there is hardly any kind of work at any scale, no programs working with young men or boys. Two exceptions are MAVA, which is based in Pune, which has done some stellar work to sensitize men, gets them together, allows them to talk. But even they say that they are empowering women by humanizing men, the poor un-humanized 50% of the population. Then there’s the Equal Community Foundation, based in Mumbai. They’ve done some pretty serious structured work with young people and has tried to create safe spaces for boys to discuss things that bother them, and to help with skilling and so on. Then there’s an organization called NOVO, there’s something called Shadhika, Oxfam does some work. But these are just tiny little specks in the ocean.

11:32 RN: And when the Equal Community Foundation that I’m working with, went to West Bengal to see if they could expand their work, they spoke to 100 organisations, none of them had any specific programs for boys, even though they had so many for girls. The philanthropy community, I’m sorry to say is doing very little, even the biggest European agencies working in this space, hardly gave 5% of their budgets to this cause. And one reason may be that that while funders agree with this in principle, they don’t know quite what to fund. And so we have, I believe a huge yawning gap of opportunities for young men to realize their rights, to achieve their better selves and to be gainfully employed.

12:14 RN: I’m going to use the remaining two-and-a-half minutes to talk about… To bring a spotlight on work, employment and jobs. Some progress has been made for sure in this regard. My friend Manish Sabharwal who runs India’s largest staffing company called TeamLease, he says that today, the problem is less of jobs than of wages. Ten years ago, the young people, who used to come to TeamLease used to say “Koi bhi naukri dilwao.” Five years ago, they used to say, “Acchi naukri dilwao.” And now they say “Dus hazar rupay ki naukri dilwao.” And even then, it’s not so easy for them to get jobs for that meager amount of 10,000, which is barely enough to keep these young men eating and with a roof over their bed, not even a house not… Just a bed, and let alone leaving them with money to send back home. You know India is a huge remittance economy.

13:01 RN: In Mumbai, top employers, get away with meager salaries, because most of the applicants stay in their own homes. But this means that others from all over India from specially from UP and Bihar… Almost one out of two children that are going to be born in India are going to come from these two states. And it sort of forecloses their options in cities like Mumbai and other cities in the south and west of India, where all the economic growth has been happening. There are 150 million people, who migrate within the country every year, in search of work and most of them are young men, And yet, there are 10,000 open positions every day that TeamLease cannot fill. Just think of all these things that are not matching up. Young men desperately looking for good jobs and not able to find them. They have very high aspirations today for various reasons and will not work without adequate pay and dignity. Imagine what it means then, and this is really worth imagining well, to a country and to a society, to have millions of idle, restless men, many armed with this educational degrees, and with no prospect of living the life, they really want and believe they deserve.

14:14 RN: If you look at the trajectory of Jyoti or Nirbhaya, and the trajectory of the people, who committed such violence against her, where you think their lives were headed and where you think her was? And we really need to see, what can we do? Now nobody wants to be a farmer. Go and ask anybody in the country, ‘Do you want to be a farmer?” Most of the time, the answer is “No,” and who can blame that person, because it’s not really very remunerative at all. And the jobs that are available in logistics or as security guards, there are nine million security guards in India. And you know… Imagine the life of a security guard, alone, away from his family. Standing at a post for 12 hours a day, with very little wages. Just imagine, what is going on in the minds of these people. Barely subsistence wages, food exorbitant, housing exorbitant, public transport is poor, the list goes on.

15:07 RN: So let’s face it, 200 million young men… Just a minute more. 200 million young men stuck in low level equilibrium. What we need to do? Okay. First they need much better laws and much better policy. This is a challenge for law makers. They need better policy and public financing of affordable shelter, public transport, identity-based access to finance. They need skilling, education. This is a concern for policy makers. They need plenty of platforms, where they can safely explore sensitive questions. They need good role models. They need structured activities, empathy and to build up self-esteem. This is addressed to civil society institutions. And they need all of us, to partake in the civilizational goal of nurturing better human beings. They need us to believe that everyone can change for the better, and they need those of us, who can to support the few organizations working in this space.

16:06 RN: I leave you with this belief that it is a creative challenge for all of us and an urgent one. We have created solid legal frameworks and support programs for women. That’s wonderful. But we need to recognize that we may have over-corrected for historical injustice. In their own right, young men need us to do more for them in our society and give them safe spaces to speak out and different programs that help them get a boot up. We need to do this for men in their own right, and we need to do it anyway even if we want women to be empowered. I think it’s about time to look at this very seriously, and I hope you will agree with me. Thank you and namaste.

[applause]

16:47 S?: Thank you Rohini…

Uncommon Ground – Mind The Gender Gap

Uncommon Ground – Mind The Gender Gap

May 22, 2009 | Gender

Not only does violence against women continue in the old brutality, it is taking new bewildering forms.
Twenty-five years ago, I used to volunteer with Vimochana, a women’s group that focuses on violence against women. At that time in Bangalore, dowry deaths were particularly disturbing, and much work was being done to raise awareness about the issue. On a day when papers reported five cases of unnatural deaths of women in the city, I had cccasion to catch up with Vimochana’s indefatigable Donna and Madhu again.

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Women seek more power and a quota –

Women seek more power and a quota –

March 9, 2008 | Gender

When the cry for equality for women reached the peak, one man sighed wistfully and said, “Viva la the difference”(Long live the difference).It was left to one’s imagination to ponder and decide what he was referring to.
The city on Saturday celebrated International Women’s Day. with a rally, a walk and several functions to honour women who have made a mark in recent times.

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Femme De Force – DAUGHTER, WIFE. MOTHER – India Woman today is so much more than this.

Femme De Force – DAUGHTER, WIFE. MOTHER – India Woman today is so much more than this.

January 1, 2007 | Gender

SHE IS THE FORCE THAT’S INSPIRING THE NATION AND THE WORLD.
The woman you see here is Rohini Nilekani, wife of Infosys CEO, Nandan Nilekani. But more important, she is a woman with strong beliefs about how one can “give back to the society in small measure what one receives in such abundance”. A former journalist and author of probably India’s first medical thriller on the lines of Robin Cook, Stillborn, she heads an organization Arghyam, which is doing path-breaking work in water management and most of it can be attributed to her vision.

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Power Women – Stand Alone – Doing it All

Power Women – Stand Alone – Doing it All

April 24, 2006 | Gender

Urban Indian Women are making choices and making them work.
ROHINI NILEKANI – 46 , S0CIAL WORKER – Stand Alone
Role call: Wears many hats in the social sector. A trust fund of Rs 100 crore focuses on access to water while the Akshara Foundation works with over one lakh children under the Pratham network. The former journalist also funds activities in areas of personal interest like poetry, yoga and music.

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Women In India

Women In India

January 10, 1985 | Gender

Women in India share many of the problems that face their counterparts in the U.S., such as sexual harassment,
lower wages, political exclusion, and physical violence which, at its worst, culminates in rape and even brideburning. In addition, however, most Indian women, and in fact many women all over the Third World, carry the double burden of humiliating poverty and debilitating illiteracy.

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