Khusboo and Damini joined the second cohort of PRIA’s Youth-n-Democracy Fellowship to explore the fascinating world of Participatory Research and the opportunity to work with people and communities. Coming from the educational backgrounds of Political Science and Public Administration, they joined hands with Akshara (another YnD Fellow and student of Social Work) to engage with college-going women on issues of gender, choices, identity, safe space, and much more.
The YnD Fellowship supports young people to develop and implement a Social Action Project.
“We often read about such things in academic domains and question wonder about it. We decided to work on this issue because we felt we have to raise awareness, even if our mothers don’t. Consciousness-raising was the tool we used.” – Khusboo, Youth-n-Democracy Fellow, 2020-21
Intrigued by the conversations during the sessions on power, inequality, and gender, and sexual identity, they decided to weave in all these issues and come up with a sustainable project.
“This was Khusboo’s idea! However, when she presented it, I could personally relate to it. This also came from the sessions we had on identity, gender, and sexuality and by understanding how they intersect. Learning about the theoretical underpinnings encouraged us to think about how they can be implemented.” – Damini, Youth-n-Democracy Fellow, 2020-21
For their social action project, Khusboo and Damini were very clear that they wanted to engage with women. But from which age and economic brackets was something they were a little confused about! They initially decided to engage with different age groups, but after a round of internal discussions and factoring in the pandemic, they decided to stick with a single group of individuals.
Khusboo and Damini were passionate about working with communities, but it was after learning about PRIA’s unique research methodology they decided to make their project as participatory in nature as possible. From sourcing ideas and topics of conversations to deciding the time and platform, project stakeholders were involved at multiple stages. And this itself demonstrates the core idea of ‘Democracy in Everyday Life.’
Participatory Research (PR) is a set of multi-disciplinary approaches that share a core philosophy of inclusivity, especially between the researchers and the community. It recognises the value of engaging the stakeholders, users, and beneficiaries; of the knowledge generated by the research study as partners in the entire research process.
Once their sessions were designed, they circulated a Google sheet for sourcing applications. After a couple of rounds of discussions with the participants, they realised how similar and relatable their experiences were. There was a need to create safe spaces for conversations with families, peers, classmates, and others. Global leaders often say that change starts at home, and that’s what these YnD Fellows tried doing.
“One of these reasons we decided to focus on family was because often democracy is not practised within those systems. We wanted to create a space within the families where healthy conversations are encouraged and everyone can express themselves freely. We believe that the discussion we had during the action project will not only help in building their understanding but also help in having these conversations with other women in their families.” – Khusboo.
Now that they have completed their Action Project, they wish to continue holding similar dialogues and spotlighting the voices of communities. Both credit this Fellowship with providing a platform to learn about the principles of inclusion and equality. For Damini, this Fellowship was also a great way to meet new people from diverse backgrounds; Khusboo has made her more sensitive towards people from different social standings.