Sexual harassment in public spaces is among the different types of violence that women face every day and is among the issues that need urgent attention today.
For an equitable and sustainable future, it is imperative that India’s youth — our greatest asset — take cognizance of prevalent gender biases which limit our nation’s development. It is then important for the youth to sensitize themselves about their rights and responsibilities, harness their collective potential for the greater good of their personal and wider circles, and engage in conversations (that involves agreement or dissent) with respect for one another and the Constitution.
To pave the way for such interactions, Durga, a citizen sector organisation that works closely in the area of gender, gender equity and safety against sexual harassment, is organising a thought-provoking virtual forum for youth titled NGAGE (Next Gen Advocates for Gender Equity) 2021.
NGAGE 2021 will focus specifically on Sexual Harassment Deterrence in Public Spaces.
Sexual harassment is perhaps the most hushed, brushed, and accepted form of violence that one experiences. We barely speak about it, as it consumes us little by little.
Sexual harassment in public spaces is the first step to addressing larger issues around gender equity that take forms like gender-based violence, gender misrepresentation, a male-dominated world and so on.
At NGAGE 2021, participants will dissect sexual harassment, what it means as an experience and how each one of us has a role — as citizens, as active bystanders, as communities, as duty bearers, as civil society and of course as governing bodies.
Read more: Op-ed: A few simple steps towards designing safer public spaces for women
The work at Durga is mostly about prevention and do-able actions that citizens can take to deter sexual harassment. The organisation works extensively with youth to build safer spaces for themselves. Youth will increasingly need these spaces. The forum will create a space where youth can come and be, come and learn, come and voice, and come for change!
This virtual forum is being held on December 10th, 11th and 12th. It will serve as an interactive platform for young citizens to understand that they can bring about great changes while they engage in meaningful conversations and make conscious efforts to create safer public spaces for themselves and others.
Insights from thought-leaders, who in principle and praxis have dedicated their efforts to deter sexual harassment can ignite our youngsters to think and act like tomorrow’s leaders, today. Beyond that, this forum will reassure young minds that their concerns, opinions, and suggestions are being heard. The guidance they seek in solving problems for the future is available to them.
Durga’s Founder Priya Vardarajan says, “India’s youth population, between 15-29 years, is about 366 million. Young people are both the receivers and the reﬂectors of the violence in societies they inhabit. However, they have the potential to be tomorrow’s leaders and today’s stakeholders in driving changes that address issues resulting from inequity. That the young minds would need is to come together to create a progressive, gender-equitable society.”
What’s on the cards?
Designed to be an annual, national movement to promote gender equity in India, the forum will aim at reinforcing the spirit of 16-days of global activism against gender-based violence.
Besides a wide array of online and offline events, gender sensitization workshops for school and college students, incubation for social projects addressing gender inequity, corporate initiatives for amplifying gender-equitable workplaces, CSR aimed at gender equity, amongst others, are envisaged.
Read more: Privacy: The missing link in the discourse on sexual harassment
The forum will see a gamut of experts speak on the subject, including but not limited to:
- Deeksha Dinesh, Trustee of Ashraya Hastha Trust
- Miriam Chandy Menacherry, Filmmaker
- Kalyani Subramanyam, CEO, Maitrayana Charity Foundation
- Supreet K Singh, Director and CEO, Red Dot Foundation
- Indu Antony, Founder, Cecilia’ed
- Neha Gowda, Filmmaker
- Gopika Bashi, Gender Justice Campaigner and Manager, AWID
- Maya Tutton, Co-Founder, Our Streets Now
- YogitaVerma, Head – Mobilisation and Communications, Breakthrough
- Anshika Rai, Board Member, ChalkBack
- Katie Koestner, Executive Director, Take Back the Night
- Chetna Verma, Manager – Programmes and Editorial, Charkha
- Shilpa Phadke, Professor, TISS Mumbai
- Evan Hastings, Founder and Director, Shadow Liberation
- Bharat, Co-Founder, Vishakha
- Bidisha Mahanta, Projects Manager, Zubaan
- Manak Matiyani, Executive Director, The YP Foundation, and many other prominent personalities
Partners for NGAGE 2021
Partners for the event include Ashraya Hastha Trust, Citizen Matters, Charkha Development Communication Network, Jhatkaa, Zubaan, Red Dot Foundation, Tribes for Good, ThirdView, Women’s Web, Untitled Arts Foundation, Point of View, Bembala Foundation, Humans of Safe Places, Mudita Foundation, Sachhi Saheli, Voice4Girls, Acharya Institute of Technology, Acharya Institute of Graduate Studies, Kaziranga University, Gauhati University, Army Institute of Fashion and Design, KLE Society’s Law College and Surana College (in no particular order).
For NGAGE 2021 registration and information on the event, visit ngageforum.com and durgaindia.org
[This article is based on a press release from Durga India, and has been published with edits]