A workshop on the basic idea of gender and gender based discrimination was organized by Mukti on 3rd April 2023 at Mukti City Office, Kolkata. 15 city office staff participated in the orientation program. The facilitators of the program were Mr. Partha Dey from Association for India’s Development (AID) and Ms. Nandita Jayraman from Mukti.
The workshop was divided into 7 sessions. The workshop started by showing a video designed by Mr. Daniel Thomas. The video uses to hold the attention of the participants during the workshop process. After that exercise, participants introduced themselves. At the end of the introduction session, Monami Mitra (HR Admin Mukti) conveyed the purpose of organizing this workshop.
Session 1 -The process was started through sharing the existing concept of gender. The participants were told to share their views when they hear the word “Gender”. Phases like sex, discrimination, norms, abuse, equality, challenges, humanity, opportunities, strength, priority and rights were uttered by the participants. After that, they were asked to share their thoughts associated with the word “Identity”. Participants expressed their personal identities like self, gender, perspective, value, power, belongings, discriminations and their social identities like mother, father, sister, brother, political leader, student, friend etc. This session was conducted to get an understanding of preconceptions about Gender and Identity.
Session 2 – The 2nd session was conducted on power walk exercise. Total 9 participants took part in this exercise. In this process, each participant got an identity and they were told to take one step forward or backward as per the situations given to that Identity. In this exercise, the participants only can take a forward step if they can act on that particular situation given by the facilitator, if not, they need to take one step backward.
As per the identity, the situations were given like –
1. I can buy a 20000/- Android mobile phone anytime I want
2. In my village or apartment, Durga Puja is being organised. Can I take part in the budget making process?
3. Can I spend the night outside without asking permission from anyone?
4. Can I sell my gold jewelry in case of an emergency?
5. Can I skip my regular household chores if I feel unwell?
After completing this process, the position of each participant was mapped and they were asked to reveal their identities that they were given at the beginning of the exercise. When they started revealing their identity it was shown that social position that means power and gender have majorly controlling the position of an identity in society.
The identities were – Auto driver male, College student male (urban area) , Migrant worker/ Daily labour male, Daily labour female, Govt employee female, Tiger widow, College professor female, Panchayat Pradhan, Migrant worker female (maid servant).
Based on different social status and gender, participants took their positions and when the positions were mapped collectively, it showed men and women with the same economic status holding different social positions, which means the women are in a lower position with respect to the men.
This exercise helped the participants to understand the existing gender discrimination in society and how discrimination is inter-related to power. This process also explained that we all are familiar with the fact of discrimination and most of us have accepted it through the process of socialization.
Session 3 – Each of the participants was given two paper notes and asked to choose one and instructed to draw that subject written on the note. In the notes, there were two options – male and female .
The participants were asked to draw a sketch of male or female based on their thoughts.
After completing the exercise, they showed their drawings one by one and let others tell whether this is a picture of a female or male.
Based on the pictures, some features of female and male were listed , the ways the participants identified the pictures of female or male were mostly by – Clothing, Length of hair, Body language/posture/gesture, Shape of the face, Body shape, Ornaments, Accessories etc.
Through this process, Male and Female were categorised based on those features and gradually throughout the discussion it became clear that most of the features are common for both male and female and with respect to time, location, situation these features can be changeable. But there are a few things that can’t be changed with respect to time, location and situation. The examples are – penis, vagina, breast, uterus, menstruation, and ability of giving birth or a few limited things. Only based on these permanent features, females and male are different. But the previously mentioned features are not the ultimate indicators to be a female or male, these are completely generated by society and this is known as “Gender” and the biological differences that women and men have known as “Sex”.
Session -4 – After introducing the concept of gender and sex, a short open discussion was conducted on how gender is creating negative impacts in people’s lives especially on the women. As a result, women are deprived of several basic rights(like right to education, right to food etc) and opportunities. Hence gender discrimination is prominently present in society and it is affecting our lives in many ways. To reduce those possibilities, the basic concept of gender and sex need to be clear to us so that we can identify the discrimination in our lives and be able to work on it.
Session -5- In this session, a group exercise was conducted to map the process or journey to become a girl to woman or boy to man . The contribution of different social institutions like school, college, marriage, hospital, club, office, court, NGO, religious places for adopting the concept of gender and also in personal, family and societal levels.
The total number of participants were divided into two groups and they were asked to list the practices/narratives or process of how the gendering method took place in present society.
Each of the groups listed various things that they heard or seen or still experiencing and this exercise helped them to understand the process of gendering.
Session -6- A small reflective session was conducted to get an understanding of how participants have articulated gender during the session. One short story was shared in a group of 3 participants. Each group was asked to identify gender, socialization and gender role in the story content.
Session -7- In the last session, sexuality was introduced through participatory discussion. How Gender discrimination in society is related to sexuality was also discussed in this session. Most of the gender Social norms are constructed to protect and control women’s sexuality.
The workshop ended with analyzing each of the participants feedback.