Period ही normal topic लगने लगा

उत्तम- मेरे स्कूल में Project Khel (PK) ने अप्रैल, 2013 से अपना काम करना start किया | तब मैं 10 साल का था |

संतोष- मैं जिस shelter home में रहता था, वहां पर PK ने मार्च, 2013 से काम करना start किया | तब मैं 11 साल का था |

शुरुआत में तो हम दोनों के सेन्टर में ही मज़ेदार games और sports होते थे, ताकि हमारा relationship बन सके | संतोष को sports में ज़्यादा interest था, तो उसे games और activities boring लगती थी और उत्तम को खेलना कूदना ज़्यादा पसंद नहीं था और उसे लगता था कि PK वाले sports team बनाने आये हैं, तो उसे भी अच्छा नहीं लगता था | हम दोनों उस समय मिले नहीं थे, पर हम दोनों को यह बात अच्छी लगने लगी की कैसे PK टीम के दीदी भैया लोग हमेशा टाइम से आते थे और सिर्फ अपना काम ख़त्म करने के लिए नहीं, बल्कि हमें, हमारे तरीके से life skills सिखाने की कोशिश करते थे | वैसे हम दोनों को वहाँ लगभग एक ही समय पर session दिया गया लेकिन session से हमें क्या मिला यह हम दोनों के लिए अलग था, क्योंकि दीदी भैया लोग सेन्टर के बच्चों के हिसाब से काम करते हैं |

करीब साल भर के बाद, धीरे धीरे संतोष के सेन्टर में topics और गंभीर होने लग गये | कभी-कभी हमसे मिलने के लिए दीदी भैया दूसरे संस्था से लोगों को भी लाते थे | मेरा इन सब चीज़ों में कम ही मन लगता था, लेकिन आज दीदी हमें याद दिलाती हैं कि कैसे कम अच्छा लगने के बावजूद भी मेरे behaviour में बदलाव आने लगा था | 

उत्तम 2014 में अपने स्कूल से graduate होकर दूसरे स्कूल चला गया, लेकिन उसे PK के sessions  बहुत अच्छे लगते थे, इसलिए जब भी उसके school में छुट्टी मिलती थी, वो भाग के PK के एक सेन्टर, जो की उसके घर के पास था, वहाँ चला जाया करता था |

हम दोनों को, 2015 में, दीदी भैया के साथ, अहमदाबाद में हुए एक ultimate frisbee camp में जाने का मौका मिला | उसी trip में हम दोनों पहली बार मिले | वहाँ से वापस आ कर हमे पूरे PK team को frisbee खेलना सिखाना था | यह सब इतने अच्छे से हुआ कि हम दोनों को PK के पहले 2 Youth Leader बनने का मौका मिला | Youth Leaders वो बच्चे होते हैं जो PK के 21st century  Life Skills Programme के graduate या Ultimate Frisbee के senior players होते हैं, जो Part-time facilitator बन के टीम में आते हैं | यह कैंप तो frisbee का था लेकिन इसी camp में एक session ऐसा था जिसमें हमारी अंगना दीदी और camp organizers में से एक दीदी ने periods पर एक workshop किया | उससे पहले हमें periods के बारे में थोड़ा बहुत पता था लेकिन इस workshop के बाद हमारा hesitation काफ़ी हद तक टूटा |

2016 के Global Menstrual Hygiene Day पर, Hindustan Times और Unicef के साथ मिलकर  हमने एक street carnival किया | वहाँ के जितने भी गेम्स PK चला रहे थे, सभी periods की जानकारी से जुड़े थे | हम Youth Leaders भी इस community event में facilitator के तौर पर उतरे | यह बहुत ही अच्छा experience रहा कि कैसे कुछ लोग खुल के सामने आये, और कुछ लोग हमसे बात करने में भी शरमा रहे थे | 

अगर हमारी पूरी journey को ध्यान रखते हुए हम बताये, तो सबसे ज़्यादा फायदा Youth Leaders Trainings से मिला | Feminism, Identity , consent, gender, pluralism जैसे बड़े topics समझ में आने लगे तो period उन सब में से बहुत ही छोटा और normal topic लगने लगा | Period के आस पास अपनी un-developed सोच से हमने जो हव्वा बना रखा है, वो भी समझ आया |

जब हम बच्चे के तौर पर जुड़े थे तब भी हम यह देखते थे कि first aid box में pad रखा रहता था और जब से Youth Leader के तौर पर जुड़े तो खुद भी अपने equipment kit में pad रखना शुरू कर दिया | इससे हमारे लिए pad carry करने का action बिल्कुल normal सा हो गया |

Youth Leader बनने के बाद हमें exposure के कई सारे मौके मिले | संतोष को एक बहुत ही बड़े स्कूल में जाकर लगभग अपने बराबर के बच्चों के साथ session facilitate करने का मौका मिला | उत्तम ने PK को एक MUN में represent किया और appreciation certificate भी जीता | इसके अलावा summer vacation में बड़े-बड़े स्कूल के बच्चे हमारा काम जानने के लिए लखनऊ आते थे और हम उनके साथ मिलकर action projects design और implement करते थे | हमें कई सारी  movies भी दिखाया जाता था, और movie के बाद उससे जुड़े topics पर discussion भी होता था, जिससे कि हमारे सोच का दाएरा बढ़े | अभी कुछ ही महीने पहले, जब ‘छपाक’ movie रिलीज़ हुई, तब हमें थिएटर में ले जा कर दिखाया गया, फिर उस movie से सम्बंधित discussion हमने Sheroes Cafe में किया, जहाँ हम acid attack survivors से भी मिले | मिलने के बाद हमने आपस में rape culture के ऊपर और भी बातें समझी और आपस में ध्यान भी रखने लग गये |

जनवरी 2020 में हम एक नए project में शामिल हुए, जहाँ period से जुड़े experience को ले कर  story circles करा रहे थे | अपने Female Youth Leaders और friends के real life अनुभवों को सुनना और उसके बारे में बातें करने से भी हमारे relationships में बहुत असर पड़ा | इससे हमें periods से जुड़ी अलग-अलग बातें पता चलीं, लोगों को क्या problem आती है, mood swings क्या होते हैं और कितना बुरा लगता है लड़कियों को जब उनको वाकई में किसी चीज़ पर गुस्सा आये तो लोग उसे mood swing बता के टाल देते हैं | Pain, periods से जुड़े myths का, romantic relationships पर क्या असर पड़ता है, etc पर open conversation हुए | इस में बहुत सारे लोग थे, girls और बॉयज सब एक जगह बैठ कर अपनी अपनी स्टोरी बता रहे थे और फैक्ट्स के बारे में भी बात हुई | इससे पीरियड्स हमारे लिए और भी समझाने की ज़रूरत वाली बात बन गई |

इस साल के Global Menstrual Hygiene Day के लिए, सारे Youth Leaders की मीटिंग्स करायी गयी कि हम लॉकडाउन और social media को बैलेंस करते हुए कैसे एक असरदार कैंपेन बना सकते हैं | सभी लोगों ने एक से बढ़कर एक ideas सोचे और शेयर किया | Angana दीदी ने पूरे समय, हम कितना जानते हैं और दुनिया को कितना बता सकते हैं उस हिसाब से गाइड लिया | हम लोगों ने agree किया कि tik-tok का दीवानापन अभी सबसे ज़्यादा चल रहा है, तो उसकेvideos बनiके हमने शेयर करा और podcasts भी बनाने के निर्णय लिया | इन दोनों के द्वारा, हम बहुत से टॉपिक कवर कर रहे हैं, जैसे- transman को period, एक girl जिसके period नहीं होते हैं लेकिन फिर भी वो एक ‘पूरी’ औरत है, disabled महिलाओं के periods etc | इन सबको अच्छे से बताने के लिए हमें पढ़ना भी बहुत पड़ रहा है | हम दोनों को इस campaign का manager इसीलिए बनाया गया क्योंकि हम दोनों ने सबसे ज़्यादा interest दिखाया था और अपने साइड से लगातार information ढूँढ रहे थे और दीदी से सवाल भी पूछ रहे थे | दूसरों तक बात पहुँचाने के चक्कर में हमने खुद बहुत कुछ सीखा |

फिर, इसी समय ‘Hidden Pockets Collective’ के टीम से हमारे दीदी की बात हुई और Hidden Pockets Collective  के team members  ने हमारा interview लिया और लोगों तक हमारी बात पहुंचाई | हम इन सब के लिए बहुत आभारी हैं | 

Will you listen to a young person’s story?

“Hidden Pockets presents Pocketshala”
When these words were played on the speakers our hearts were on the seventh cloud because our work of months and imagining of creating a support tool to talk about issues has finally come true. Talking to young people about things has always been a difficult task. The attention span of young people is short, one moment they are listening to you and the very next moment they will move on to next interesting issue around, creating things which will keep their interest intact in the issues is very difficult. A young person tends to ignore heavy or boring sessions.

It is very important to understand that young participants usually tend to take time to understand issues such as bullying, body shaming, health and hygiene etc. As a facilitator we have to keep adding new tools in our handbag to inform young kids.

 

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One way which has always worked with children has been the art of storytelling. Since our childhood grandparents have been using the art of telling stories. The art from the past, in our modern world has taken the form of  podcast. Creating stories based on issues such as mensuration, bullying, health and hygiene, relationship etc. has given us a space to start the conversation. In the workshop at Deepalaya we started our session with the first podcast on bullying which has a lead protagonist named Rahul who is being bullied by some kids at school and how his friend Neha helps him out. When the podcast was being played silence was there, which was telling us that there is surely a Rahul in the schools of these kids. Many kids had difficulty in understanding that bullying is not just  physical violence but it also can be when a specific kid is being targeted because of his appearance.  For many of them calling each other names about their skin, height, weight or facial features was a normal thing but at the end of the session they were able to relate to Rahul’s feelings of being bullied and methods to prevent this to happen any further.

It is a well-known fact that when we listen to a story we tend to remember it. The idea behind making podcast in a story telling manner is to create such stories which will remain in children’s minds. The first workshop also created a taboo discussion on urinating in public where two young boys were not able to understand that why urinating in public is a privilege given to male gender and for females this is not the case. On the other spectrum girls at the session have consensus on that if some men urinate in public it has always made them uncomfortable. A lot of questions were also raised such as why children themselves do not clean the toilets at their home though they are the one using them. The discussion was obviously was intense for young children but our aim was just to make them think through the process of being open minded.

 

With a lot of questions being raised and discussed many children were able to give solutions as well as especially when it came to tackle bullying. Initially children had the idea that if anything happens they should always call the police first as they were never exposed to any other option to resolve such a sensitive matter. Just like in the podcast where Neha goes to the teacher and ask for help who is the immediate authority they also agreed that going to a teacher is a best option to stop bullying or taking a stand for the person being bullied.

Towards the end of the workshop, there was discussion on health services programme in schools  and they were quick to address that most of them had a health room in their schools but were clueless regarding usage of it. They were also not aware of the government’s policy on adolescent health programme where they could go to hospitals and access health services.

The workshop which was conducted with the help of audio podcasts is a helpful way to tackle usual challenges a facilitator face in  workshop with young participants. Hence it could be a way to start a conversation or break the ice of awkwardness when it comes to talking about serious issues with young accomplices.  The whole idea to create these audio recordings was to make sure that our message will remain in their minds and whenever they face such issues they should be fully aware of their options.

 

About the Author : Jitender N Bhardwaj is a nomadic traveler who often enjoys long walks in untraditional parts of a city. He as been associated with Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights field since 2014 and loves talking about sexuality and pleasure.

PS: The audio podcasts were created along with Painted Tree Pictures, with the help of Women Deliver.

 

 

Inclusive Technologies: ‘Gender Sensitisation’ workshop with FSMK students in Mangalore

What classifies a person as a user of a technology? Does that classification include gender? Do designers of different technologies work on designs that take into consideration the requirements of users from different genders? Which gender do different apps or products and even technologies resonate with? Is there a predominant gender that is taken into consideration and others that aren’t? How do we understand the difference?

As an organisation working on inclusion in different spaces, Hidden Pockets has also been working in the area of technology to find the answer to these questions and others in a way to make technologies and the space of technology inclusive for all. Peeling one layer after another in search of answers, we realised that inclusive thinking is one that is often to given to as a fundamental concept in our system of education.

On 13th May 2017 Hidden Pockets was invited by FSMK (Free Software Movement Karnataka) to conduct a workshop on ‘Gender Sensitization’ for the students of Bearys Institute of Technology, Mangalore.  The day started with session on free software, how to think like a computer scientist and was followed by a workshop on ‘Gender Sensitization’. FMSK sees a need to have conversations around issue of gender and how this gets manifested in technology spaces as well. Being an organisation working on diversity and inclusion, we at, Hidden Pockets, were more than excited to be part of this initiative and bring conversations around gender in a technology space. Aisha Lovely George conducted the training on behalf of Hidden Pockets. The purpose of the talk was to sensitize students of different technologies about the need to look technology from several perspectives going beyond one in a way to make it usable for diverse groups of users.

It is important to understand the builders, architects, designers come with their lived-in experiences, knowledge and other influences into what they build. It is important to work with students from diverse backgrounds in a way to bring them all to a neutral ground. This, in no way, is an easy task. However, setting some common fool-proof grounds and rules could help them in looking at their product in a more unbiased manner.

In this case, more than 90% of the students were from the Muslim community. The room had a clear gender based segregation and seating arrangement with girls on one side and boys on the other side. The girls were giggling and keeping the answers to themselves and guys confidently answered all the questions. Initially, we asked the students to change their seating arrangements as we realised girls and boys were seated separately. We later mixed them into groups for some of our activities.

Nardhini S, a members of FSMK insisted on giving communication a place of vital importance. Then there was a small session on why it is important to understand the concept of gender when it comes to tech, a talk on why it is important to respect all. How can one holistically understand making of tech apps for all genders? These and many more such questions were explored during this session in an attempt to open newer perspectives to these students.  Emphasis was given on how to respect each other’s space, views and most important gender. The session was concluded with a gentle reminder about the responsibilities of the students to be inclusive of all, especially as the creators, inventors and makers of tomorrow.

 

Would you like a gender sensitisation workshop in your workplace or education institution? Write to us at aisha.george@hidden-pockets.com. We’d be happy to help! 

BroC0de: Gender and Technology Workshop at HasGeek

Techies; the misfits, the geeks, the nerds, the un-wired ones are making the future right now or so it seems. Techies have the power to change the narratives and ensure that more people from different groups are represented in this conversations. In an era where Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) would be the next big truth, how do we make sure that this future is inclusive and reflective of everyone’s realities? What is the language that is being used to create this new brave world? Who are these people, and is it true that some people are being left out? Is there space for care and inclusion?

With rising incidents of harassment in tech spaces, gender diversity is soon becoming an issue which the companies can no longer ignore. With rising importance given to technology, how do we ensure a space that discusses role of technology in negotiating power structures? What is this technology, and who are the consumers of it? Is there a specific gender that is creating a technology, and is there a certain gender that is just consuming technology?

Hidden Pockets in an attempt towards creating inclusive spaces, conducted a talk on existing Bro Code within the workspaces. In an attempt to check the existing biases within tech workspaces, we conducted a workshop to channel conversations between people who use technology in different capacities.

The conversations ranged from different understandings around gender, and how it manifests in participants life. Most of the participants were people who considered themselves as tech makers in some capacity and had generally a very positive approach towards technology. They were aware of some of the inherent biases that tend to get reflected in some of the tech products.

Jasmine Lovely George, trainer from Hidden Pockets played a game to understand the inherent biases to help participants realize some of the unconscious bases held by all of us. The game led to some interesting discoveries. It was interesting to see that there was a very limited understanding of gender in workspaces and there was tendency to assume that individuals acted without any gender expectations within work culture. There was also specific mention of  the fact that genders could be more than two genders, and there was a need to make spaces more accessible for people belonging to different genders.

There was a section around technology products and their usage. There was a tendency to see solutions in technology and approach problems through technology lens only. Sruthi Krishnan, from Fields of Views  discussed their research studies around lack of efficiency of panic buttons and safety applications in responding to crisis situations. Someone else also discussed the usage of Food delivery applications to reduce wastage.

There was also a clear lack of understanding of problems that affected people from different genders. Overall, there was an agreement in trying to make spaces and workstations more inclusive and have more people from different backgrounds.

With the rising need to make different spaces inclusive, it is becoming of exceedingly important to have these conversations and question ideas that are inherently present in our minds due to various reasons – environment, family, friends, education and others. Are these ideas valid and fair towards all? How can we change them? Hidden Pockets aims to tackle these issues of gender and sexual diversity in workspaces and would be hosting a lot more workshops and talks to keep raising this disparity and continue these conversations to have a more meaningful engagement with technology. If you are interested in having a workshop in your organisation, write to aisha@hidden-pockets.com

Code of Conduct talks to make technology spaces more inclusive for all

Uber in last few weeks have been trying to figure out different ways of handling and trying to improve the conditions in its workspace. In an attempt to improve its workspace atmosphere, it introduced a Holer’s report which tried establishing some of the Code of Conduct prinicples which a company can introduce to have more diversity, inclusion and better work-life balance.

Code of Conduct principles are generally a set of rules that an organisation introduces to make a workplace lot more comfortable for all its staff . These principles set the tone of an organisation and help in building a great work culture.

Hidden Pockets in its attempts to discover and talk about inclusive spaces,have been introducing the concept of Code of Conduct in different spaces. In recently conducted RHOK Bangalore Hackathon , Hidden Pockets gave a talk on Code of Conduct, and the need for different spaces to introduce these principles to have a much more holistic experience. The hackathon was attended by around 30 people from various backgrounds.

The coders came from different backgrounds and were coming together to create a product as a solution for a cause that they believed in. In an event, which was mostly attended by male coders, it was important to emphasise on the fact that there were not enough women coders in such hackathon spaces. In a makers space, it was important for us to raise some of the questions around how could we make these spaces more inclusive so that people from different genders, class and caste would find it more encouraging to attend these events. For most of them, gender was a new topic that they were getting introduced to, and they were trying to understand how this concept could be brought into our daily spaces of work.

User experience was another issue which was picked up during our conversation. Does the user and the maker have a dialogue before creating the product, and how does this help in creating a better experience for the user?

Since most of the coders were working on issues that they were interested in, it was important for them to realize that there was diversity in the room and to acknowledge at some level that this diversity would be a great added bonus to their work experience. Code of Conduct helps the participants and the employees see value in diversity and makes spaces more inclusive by bringing in experiences from different backgrounds and connecting these experiences to different themes.

The coders worked on these different themes :

  1. Accessible public transport to enable visually impaired persons to identify bus stops. (Cheshire homes)
  2. Early warning system for earthquakes and other natural calamities (Opencube Labs)
    Reduction of usage pesticides in the agriculture sector. (World Merit India & Opencube Labs)
  3. Water conservation in agriculture sector. (World Merit India)
  4. To improve the user interface of an open source application used to map trees ( Gubbi labs)

Technology spaces are the latest spaces where more and more people of colour, people from different backgrounds and genders are interacting. RHOK hackathons is an initiative that bring makers and users on a common platform and make technology more inclusive. A nuanced Code of Conduct and enhanced work space atmosphere would definitely help in creating finer products and will encourage more people to come forth and be part of such spaces.

Sexuality Education Workshop in Kannada – Mysore

Our day began as early as 5:30 am on a Sunday when Charu picked us- Jasmine, Kiran and Aruna up. Jasmine had earlier insisted that we bring Kiran along since the presence of a man changes the way young boys listen and respond to a session, especially facilitated by women. I have learnt this to be true myself.

We landed up in Mysore where Chaitra and Mangala guided us into the community where Buguri is situated. The amount of space there for children amazed an urban space person like me which allowed me to look more into how spaces and behaviours, especially of children are so intertwined. Buguri Mysore is a tiny space and decorated very beautifully with art works made by the children. The atmosphere felt extremely warm and inviting.

There were about 15 children in the age group of 9-16 years and their curious younger siblings peeping from the window, who were ready for the workshop to begin. They were clearly prepared earlier for the session, seeming very eager and some, having skipped their breakfast. The 4 of us had squeezed ourselves between the children along with Chaitra and Mangala. Jasmine had already begun asking their names and it amazed me how in 10 minutes she had managed to remember most of them! She was also asking them who their favourite actor and actress were, later corrected by the children to ‘heroin’. At this point is when I realised that the session had already begun. Seemingly effortless and quietly warming up the children. The idea seemed to get the children to speak. The following questions were about make-up, what makes an actor ‘average’, beauty parlours, bullying and love. The role of gender and the opinions of the boys and girls were addressed subtly and with very minimal judgement. Jasmine was also careful not to ‘correct’ what politically may seem as ‘wrong’ answers.
The girls seemed to share very similar ideologies on these topics bordering feminism. Their responses and standpoints being very mature for their age. While the boys, had very mixed responses from- girls as bullies cannot be given a second chance, boys can be; boys should say no to dowry; boys don’t wear make-up because they aren’t girls. And interestingly, there were moments of exchange between the boys who answered differently trying to get one to see the other’s point of view. And this happened very conversationally.

Audio Podcasts as a tool

 

These discussions were combined with the playing of 2 podcasts made by Hidden Pockets followed by a discussion of the same. One podcast was on bullying in a school discussed between two friends that was later escalated to the faculty who handled it in the school assembly without outing the bully. The discussion followed with the children stating how important it is to address an issue in a more general sense in a school space rather than picking out the child at fault resulting in their embarrassment.

The second podcast was on growing up through an introduction to menstruation explained by a mother to her daughter with the growth of a tree as a metaphor. It also addressed changes in the body of teenagers and reassuring that changes are normal. The children reacted by discussing how some of them and their older siblings now have pimples.

This on one hand, with the verbally strong, there were some children who were very shy. Jasmine opened out to them an option of writing down their thoughts and queries without a need to mention their names. This was more than welcome in the group.

This time they took to write also meant that some would sneak out for a quick snack!
Soon after, Chaitra began to read the questions and I was wondering what this session had spiraled out into. The answers would definitely mean another session! The children were eager to know more on a range of subjects- child marriage, menstruation, friendships and medical help. Jasmine patiently responded to them all also keeping in mind to be sensitive while addressing the group as some content may not be suitable for the 9-10 year olds in the group, to be spoken explicitly.

We ended the workshop very warmly with Chaitra and Mangala handing us crepe paper flowers made by the children with their name tags on. As like one child said “Preeti manassinda barbeku” (“Love should come from the heart”), we left with hungry tummies and love in our hearts.

About Buguri:
Buguri (‘Spinning top’ in Kannada) is a community library for the children of the waste collectors currently in 4 locations in Karnataka- Banashankari and Hebbal in Bangalore, Mysore and Tumkur. Buguri is a Hasiru Dala (‘Green Force’ in Kannada) initiative, an organisation based out of Bangalore that works for the welfare of the informal waste collectors in Karnataka.
Buguri runs with a primary aim to work with the children in the age group of 6 to 16 years, in the waster collector’s community through books. The idea was to introduce a no-fee and a fun library space as a means to open them up to the magic of books and explore the empowerment it gives to young and fresh minds.

 

Author : Aruna

Image Courtesy : Kiran Sopanam.

Gender focussed Tech Solutions

Open Data Hack(ODH)Bangalore 2017 held on 14th & 15th of October, 2017 supported by RHoK India was part of the series of hackathons in India. Themes for Open Data Hack Bangalore 2017 were climate change, disaster warning systems and women health.

Hidden Pockets Collective participated as one of the organisations which provided a problem statement for the hackathon. We wanted engineering students to provide and look for tech solutions that would focus on issues around sexual and reproductive health.

Health is often the neglected issue which rarely gets any technology focussed especially if we are looking towards public health sector.

We also wanted more women engineers to come forward and take interest in our work and maybe encourage them to focus on tech solutions that would be more immediate and beneficial for them.

Does anyone ask for young people’s consent?

 

Hidden Pockets Collective recently conducted a workshop on consent for young people with Project Khelin Uttar Pradesh. It was conducted for children above the age of 10 years old to 17 years in different schools.

We asked the young people if they had ever talked about issue of consent with their friends, family and communities. There were lot of questions about right to say yes, right to no, and questions about how to convince a person.

They often had questions about who had a right to give consent, not everyone felt they had a right. Also for most of them, they felt like parents decided things for them.

Even though nobody explicitly mentioned about child marriages, young people did acknowledge the fact that a lot of young girls had to drop out of schools because of marriages.