Gender based Violence
- Gender Sensitive counseling
- Engaging men in reducing violence against women.
- Consultation for implementation of Sexual harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal), Act 2013
- Informal education- Khelghar
- Support to Katkari community to avail necessary documents and welfare schemes
- Education: constructivist pedagogies
- Resource centre
- Capacity building of youth for village governance
- Education: constructivist pedagogies
Core Program area and projects
Combating Gender based Violence
Strong stance against gender based violence and action based programmes are two major components of our work. Since its beginning, Speak Out and counseling centre of Manch is active in Pune. As the movement’s understanding of gender based violence enhanced, NSM work also expanded accordingly.
- ‘Speak Our Centre’ (Since beginning):
This center gave a platform for women to vent out when talking about experiences in private sphere carried a huge stigma. As we went on listening to women, need for systematic help such as counseling as well as medical and legal aid was realized. Thus, it took the form of ‘Crisis Intervention centre’. Since then the centre’s work is carried out without break. Manch always stood for the rights of survivors of violence and regaining their self-esteem. The motto of Gender Equality led to initiation of separate speak out and counseling facility for men, ‘Purush Samvaad Kendra’.
- Gender Sensitive Counselling:
The counselling centre of Manch is operational for last 33 years. ‘Gender Sensitive Counselling’ is a distinctive feature of counselling provided by Manch. As a science and ‘art’ of helping, counselling should be value neutral; however, value neutrality may lead to ‘gender blindness’. Our experience indicated that the counsellor who themselves are ‘social constructs’ of the same patriarchal society, tend to look at woman or rather any aggrieved person as ‘maladjusted’ rather than the ‘victim’ and expect especially women to adjust in the marriage, which is supposed to be the only ‘alternative’ for rehabilitation. For us the goal of counselling is not ‘the adjustment’ but creating strength and assertiveness to make own choices and assume responsibility of those choices. If reconciliation is possible, we focus on preserving ‘self-esteem’ of a woman and helping both to cope up with each other and develop a relationship of mutual respect going beyond gender stereotypes. If conciliation is not doable, we advise them to take course for legal action. So far Manch has handled more than 3000 complaints successfully. Manch has also extended counselling support for the cases in counselling centre at Police Commissioner Office, Pune for three years.
For prevention of violence against women, having dialogue with men is necessary to sensitize them on gender inequalities. With this view, Manch started a Speak out and counselling facility specially for men ‘Dr Satyaranjan Sathe Purush Samvaad Kendra’ Manch also organises trainings on ‘Gender Sensitive Counseling’.
- Short Stay Home (1993-2005):
The major concern of women survivors of violence approaching Manch was of shelter as many of them were thrown out of homes by their in-laws and denial of parents to help them. With a view to provide a temporary but safe shelter, where they can stay and gain strength for their life battle; Manch started a short stay home ‘Aaple Ghar’. This was run for 12 years where approximately 1000 women and 250 children could seek help.
Strict discipline or high walls in the name of security was not the nature of Aaple Ghar rather it was a place where women could stay together, cook, learn from each others’ experiences. It was a non-hierarchical and friendly system which helped women to gain necessary strengths. But changing rules regarding license and growing problems in management compelled us to close the facility. Although short stay home is closed, the facility is still available in the form of safe hostel for women. Support from HIVOS and Tata Trust enabled us to venture for this.
Consciousness raising campaigns,workshops, events
To create and develop ideological base of the organization, Manch members often have discussions and brainstorming and decide the position on specific issues of the concern. To promote gender equality, Manch organised different workshops, seminars, consultations as well as public events from time to time.
- Aparajita Parishad:
Conference of Single women organised in 1987 was attended by more than 225 women from urban and rural areas of Pune. The collection of narratives of single women was later published by Manch as,
- Kutumb Jeevan Parishad:
In International Family Year 1994, a conference was organised where many important aspects were discussed such as redefining family, extended family and companionship based on equality.
- Striyanche horpalane – Ek Jwalant Prashn:
A consultation was organised on burning issue of the time; burnt women. It was observed that Hindu women took resort for burning themselves and it is also used as weapon in violence against women. Hence the consultation was organised with a view to understand the plight of such women as well as the clinical aspects of it.
- Print Media and Gender Issue:
Print media especially, newspaper plays a vital role as an ‘opinion maker’. Most of the media highlight women as middle-class house wives. On this background Manch organised a consultation focusing on Image of women in Media and need to change it.
- Daughters of Maharashtra:
In 1997-98, Manch undertook documentation project to capture significant contributions of women in different fields, which would have remained unrecognised otherwise. Mr. Abhijit Varde interviewed and photographed the women and Vidya Bal edited the book, ‘Daughters of Maharashtra’. The amount from the sale of book was utilised for an award with the same name to recognise significant contributions of women working in social sphere. This was awarded for ten years and the awardees are mainly working in rural, tribal or at urban community levels on different issues of women’s concern.
- Aatmsamman Parisahd (2001):
To raise awareness on self-esteem of women, Manch had organised a Parishad which was attended by 250 women from different Mahila Mandals and Self-Help Groups. Many aspects of Self Esteem
were brought in to discussion through different exercises and group work.
- Aman Ke Raaste:
It was a campaign that lasted for one year in 2002-03. Combating inequalities, violence and terrorism and promoting equality and non-violence was the objective of the campaign as the very name of the campaign suggested, paths of peace. The campaign began on 2nd October, birth anniversary of greatest champion of Non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi. Prof. Yashwant Sumant delivered a speech on ‘Mahatma Gandhi’s views on Non-Violence’. Renowned singer Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande rendered bhajans and Gandhian activist Ilaben Bhat concluded the programme.
During the campaign, many programmes were organised focusing on the values such as non-violence, humanity and equality. Police officers Mr. Madhav Sanap and Mr. Arun Khopde shared their work with respect to attitudinal shifts of criminals, experience sharing by activists in Mahila Rajsatta Andolan, the play directed by Chetan Datar ‘Manto – Sarhad se Bajar Tak’ were few notable events of the campaign.
- Sexual Harassment of women at workplace:
The issue became a topic of national debate with the incident of sexual violence against Bhanwari Devi in 1993. Voluntary organizations supported Bhanvari in her struggle for justice and filed a writ petition in Supreme court requesting to guide for prevention of sexual harassment of women at workplace. The Supreme Court gave guidelines highlighting women’s right to work and safe workplace which came to be known as ‘Vishakha Guidelines’.
Since these guidelines came in 1997, Manch has organised many workshops as well as a conference to raise awareness on the guidelines and its implementation. The Act came into force in 2013 and the implementation became mandatory with specific penal provisions for non-implementation. Manch members work as external member on the committees at different workplaces. The law is indeed important with respect to recognition of sexual harassment as workplace issue and commitment to take preventive and corrective measures for it. Manch regularly conducts training programmes for members of committees and sensitization sessions for employees.