How a non-profit initiative WeRise, is teaching adolescents to break gender stereotypes

Posted by Prajya Sharma
July 5, 2017

Self-Published

What image do you conjure in your mind when we talk about the colour pink or cooking? And scientists and engineers, what image comes to mind? Why can’t menstruating girls visit the temples?

Unsurprisingly our young participants, like all of us today gave in to their intrinsic biases and however reluctantly, told us that pink is so ‘girly’, and that whenever they think about scientists, a male’s image comes to mind. Interesting, another young participant Krishan (name changed) was asked what came to his mind when he imagined a person cooking, his sister or him? He seemingly got into a dilemma of what the “ideal” answer should be. We got to know from his sister that he cooks, but he wasn’t very comfortable in accepting it or saying it in front of his friends.

Now imagine a society where a boy proudly displays his culinary skills and menstruating girls are no longer ‘prohibited’ from entering the kitchen and temples. WeRise India  is a non-profit initiative that is working towards bringing this change and helping youngsters overcome their gender differential mindset.

 
WeRise participants speaking up on gender norms in their societies

Prajya, Sanchi and Divya, the folks behind WeRise firmly believe that the foundation of recognizing and standing against gender inequity at home and in our communities must be laid early amongst adolescents. WeRise conducts workshops on gender sensitization and menstrual hygiene for adolescents that stipulates them to think, creates platform for them to discuss and voice their opinions and motivates them to challenges stereotypes and taboos. The workshops involve experiential learning activities, group discussions, role plays, nukkadnataks and video lessons to engage the youth. WeRise has partnered with advisors on youth development and gender studies to design the workshops.

“One of the high moments of the menstrual health sessions was when Neha (name changed), a 16 year old participant came up to us and said that the workshop had given her a platform to ask questions she had been too shy and reluctant to voice before, even to her mother”, WeRise team said. A leading gynecologist,Dr, Kusum Sabharwal is also on the advisory board of the initiative and conducts sessions with the team on nutrition and health requirements during menstruation for young girls.

The impact of the workshops can be seen in small moments-when a young participant Sana shared her story of how she stood up against the practice of orthodox clothing in her family and now wears clothes of her choice and when Krishan, no longer shy, confidently spoke about his passion for cooking.

WeRise workshop participants from myPerch library, Noida in the gender sensitisation session

Till now, WeRise has worked with hundreds of adolescents and has partnered with NGOs, shelter homes and educational institutes in the city for sessions, workshops and plays. “But this is just the beginning’, the team said.  WeRise is expanding its network in and around Delhi, diversifying its portfolio of workshops and sessions and creating digital campaigns to target the urban youth.

Learn more about WeRise India and its work at  www.werise.org.in and connect with us on facebook on our page.

If you’re an organization working with adolescents and are interested in partnering with the initiative, you can write to the WeRise team at [email protected] or call at +91 9811196323.

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