Activities during 16 Days of Activism
On occasion of 16 Days of Activism, Vacha conducted multiple events across Mumbai and Kalyan-Dombivali from 25th November to 10th December.
The events conducted included rallies, photo exhibitions, fairs, street plays, film screenings, signature campaigns, online poetry and story telling and other awareness generation activities. The overall themes covered by the various activities were sexual harassment, unsafe spaces, issue of community toilets, violence against women, gender and gender-based violence. These events witnessed an overall participation from more than 800 community girls, and it was attended by more than 3000 people. One such event in Bharat Nagar, Bandra was conducted in collaboration with ActionAid India. The report of activities will be uploaded soon.
Residential Training on Understanding Gender:
Vacha in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung organised a residential training for 31 B. Ed. students of Gandhi Shikshan Bhavan. The participants have actively participated in the discussions, discourse on the theme of Gender, Patriarchy, Sexuality, Sexual harassment at workplace and Violence against women and girls.
“I will take a stand for myself and for the ones with less power.”
” It gives me courage to change the stereotypes in society.”
“I have a habit of being tolerant to injustice but now I will raise my voice.” These were few feedbacks received after this training.
Vacha Charitable Trust, in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, organised a Regional Seminar on ‘Marginalised Adolescent Girls’ agency in Empowerment – For self and community- Strategies and Models’
We acknowledge that empowering interventions require a shift away from seeing women and girls as beneficiaries of health and development programs, to engaging with them as agents of change for their own individual and collective empowerment. When women and girls exercise agency and take action, it leads to shift in power relations as they assert for their entitlement as citizens. Expanded access to and control over resources, shapes their lives and futures. Agency, access to institutional structures and resources are the key elements in our model of women and girls’ empowerment.
Agency refers to the capacity of women and girls to take purposeful action and pursue goals, free from the threat of violence or retribution. The three core expressions of agency are decision-making, leadership, and collective action. Girls need to gain and exercise their agency in their lives in the private as well as public domains to be empowered in the true sense of the word. There is a need to have discourse and documentation of the strategies and models that have girls’ agency as its core aspect in empowerment programs designed for adolescent girls empowerment.
This conference tried to collate the strategies that have managed to have agency of adolescent girls and young women emerging stronger in various spheres of their lives.
This was a regional conference with representation of participants from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi.
The conference had two dimensions. The activists and academics presented their notions of strategies and models that have worked; and the representative adolescent girls and young women who have benefitted from these strategies and models discussed and shared what according to them leads to strengthening adolescent girls and young women’s’ agency.
Read more at: Seminar Report
Celebrated ‘International Day of Girl’:
11th October is celebrated as ‘International Day of Girl’. The observation supports more opportunity for Girls and increases awareness of gender inequality faced by Girls worldwide based upon their gender. This inequality includes areas such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence against women and dowry-endured child marriage. The celebration of the day also reflects the successful emergence of Girls and young women as a distinct cohort in development policy, programming, campaigning and research.
We also celebrated this day in each of our communities by distributing leaflets on ‘Girls’ Rights’, Tuberculosis (TB) and Sanitation. The team distributed more than 10,000 leaflets across 12 communities and nearby schools. They conducted corner meetings and short awareness talks with the community residents and school students. The outreach that we achieved today has been humongous and it was really well accepted. We hope that this helps the girls to understand their basic rights to Health, Education, Nutrition, Sanitation, Public Access and Hygiene.
Youth participation in UNICEF’s National Conclave:
6 of our Vacha youth attended the UNICEF Mumbai consultation on 21st -22nd September at Taj Hotel, Mumbai. This was a State Consultation with Adolescents and Young People on Education, Skills and Career Aspirations. Impressed by their presentation and participation at state level, 2 of our youth- Parvati Chauhan and Deepak Kanojiya, were selected to represent Maharashtra at UNICEF’s National Conclave with Adolescents and Young People in New Delhi, which had youth representatives from 5 other states. They attended this consultation along with a Vacha staff- Sonali More, from 30th September to 1st October.
The consultation was to garner ideas from the young representatives on what problems do the youth of our country face and what are the possible solutions that they can think of? They spoke about challenges in education, employment and skill development, through media of street play, quiz game, debate, presentation and general discussion.
Parvati shared her own experience about having difficulties in making the correct career choice. She spoke about how there should be proper career counselling centers in all the States, which will help them in making the right choice for future. Deepak also spoke about having a resource center in schools and communities providing guidance in career, educational and employment opportunities.
‘Understanding Gender’ Training for CBOs/ NGOs:
Vacha and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Delhi organised a residential basic gender training for social workers and those working in the field. 26 representatives from 14 different organisations participated in training. Participatory and interactive methodology was used like games, songs, films, role play, text analysis, discussions and more.
Launch of Girls Advisory Council by EMpower:
The Girls Advisory Council is a group of 16 adolescent girl leaders selected by EMpower’s grantee partner organizations in India (1 from each) to advise on EMpower’s grant making strategy in India. EMpower aims to put the voices and ideas of girls in India at the centre of decision-making so that they can be empowered to create positive change in their lives, and across communities.
The Council, as well as staff representatives from their organizations, will convene to inform EMpower’s strategy in India and bring girls’ voices purposefully into our decision making. Seema, one of the girl leaders from Vacha, attended the council meet.
Power point presentations by youth in Kalyan:
A PPT Competition was organized for Kalyan-Dombivli centre’s youth. 12 groups presented at the competition. One of the girl’s group from Dombivli felt it was important to share what is menstruation with the boys and behavioural and physical changes occurring in a women’s body. These girls were super-confident while presenting it in front of their peer-boys. They also mentioned the data they had collected as how many women are affected by the bad conditions of toilets from their community. One more girl’s groups presented on the toilets situation in their community. These girls presented the statistics for their community as they earlier had done a survey on this issue. Others presented on the topics like pollution, bribe, situation of toilets and temples, Indian social reformer etc.
Collaboration with Photographers Without Borders:
Liz Oxhorn, a photographer with Photographers Without Borders, spent 10 days in November at Vacha covering our empowered girls at various bastis. Liz’s still pictures transposed into lucid stories by capturing the essence of our work in bastis and the emotions of the girls while at play, in their community, doing household chores, attending Vacha classes, talking about their future, aspirations, health concerns, limitations, expectations, hope and so on.
Check out a sample of her work at: https://www.instagram.com/p/BdsIJyygxZW/
Roundtable on Sexual and Reproductive Health Education:
On 30th and 31st October, a Roundtable on ‘New Pedagogies in Sexual and Reproductive Health Education and Rights among Adolescents’ was organised by Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation, Linkoping Universtiy, Sweden, alongwith University West, Sweden and University of Boras, Sweden. Medhavinee Namjoshi, Executive Director of Vacha, presented on Innovative SRHR Training Models in the Roundtable.
Youth participated in State level seminar at Nashik:
Designing Future-2017, a youth congregation at Nashik, Maharashtra attended by 600 youngsters from all over the state in the month of September. 35 students from Vacha participated in this event to brainstorm on issues faced by the new generation. Holistic group discussions on education and environment encompassing casteism, gender, Right To Education, rights required today for a better future tomorrow were the major agenda points. General consensus was that instead of the current trend of intolerance and communalism, the government needs to focus on education and job creation. For this, the common opinion was that it is mandatory for youth to be actively involved in politics.
Learning Community Seminar For Girls By Girls :
Girls from Learning Community have organised a two days seminar on ‘Reclaim the public space: Ab Nahi Toh Kab’ (The Time is Now) on the issue of restrictions, safety and mobility in public places for girls and girls’ focused organisations. Girls in the age group of 16 to 24 years from 28 organisations and institutes made presentations and participated in the workshop. Vacha coordinates this programme of 7 NGOs.
The seminar facilitated sharing of experiences by girls, understanding their perceptions. It will build recommendations for concerned authorities. The seminar began with the presentations followed by workshops for girls on gender and other issues. Presentations were in the form of oral narratives, audio-visuals, posters and performances.
16 Days of Activism
16 days of activism against gender based violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25th November (International day for “Elimination of violence against women”) to 10th January (Human Rights Day). Vacha conducted various activities in schools, colleges and basti centres to support the campaign.
Click here for full report
Workshop on Design Thinking
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and Vacha organized a training programme on Design Thinking on 5th & 6th October in Mumbai. Dr. Moritz Gekeler who is a strategic consultant facilitated the workshop. 26 people from various backgrounds attended the workshop. Design Thinking is an important human-centred approach in innovations in multidisciplinary teams in areas of management, education and several other fields.
This workshop was part of the Political Feminism project of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), India. This was followed by the release of the study report on “Political Feminism in India: An Analysis of Actors, Debates and Strategies” written by Dr. Vibhuti Patel and Radhika Khajuria. Presentations at the release were made by Sonal Shukla, Founding Trustee, Vacha and Dr. Putul Sathe from Research Centre of Women’s Studies.
Kishori- Kishor Mela
611 adolescent girls and boys ( kishori – Kishor) participated in gender and health fairs organised in the Month of March, 2016. These adolescents were from 3 municipal schools in H ward.
Kishori – Kishor Gender and Health fairs were organised jointly by Planning Department, Education Department and Savitribai Phule Gender Resource Centre of Mumbai Municipal Corporation in association with Vacha Trust, Stree Mukti Sanghatana, Akshara and Sneha.
Vacha and Akshara trained volunteers from all the four NGOs and also provided the interactive material used for putting up stalls for these fairs for all the groups. Vacha was responsible for execution of fair in the above mentioned three schools.
Various stalls were put up for them to develop awareness on topics such as gender equality and ways to maintain good health through games and fun activities. Many girls reported that they enjoyed hammering nails in one-minute stall as they are normally never allowed to take this activity at home as is always assigned to male members. Boys said that they have realised that stitching a button is not a very difficult task and they can do it themselves.
Health and Gender Fair with the girls in Nahur to celebrate National Youth Day
Kishori Utsav – Health and Gender Fair was organised at the Community Welfare Centre near Ceat Plant, Nahur on January 12th,2016 to celebrate National Youth Day .
This Kishori Utsav was organised by project Jeevan. This was a collaboration of Vacha Trust, RPG Foundation, Keni Vidyalaya and ICDS, Nahur. In all 230 adolescent girls and 100 concerned stakeholders from the collaborative partners attended the fair. The stake holdres involved teachers from the school that is part of our project as well as Anganwadi workers( ICDS).
Educational fairs are a proved means of taking powerful messages effectively to children and young people. Various tools have been designed and adapted from the popular board as well as sports games to make adolescents aware of various aspects of health, gender and vocations.
National Seminar on ‘Repositioning Women’s and Girls’ Agency for Social Justice’
A National Seminar on ‘Repositioning Women’s and Girls’ Agency for Social Justice’ was held in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung FES, New Delhi on December, 4 & 5 at Mumbai. The seminar opened with presentations by girls of Vacha. Girls also participated in the Foyer events with art and theater work. They were also present in the panel discussions in the seminar room. Their were young students who made presentations and were networking with seasoned workers in the seminar and asking them how they could contribute in a real way in ending gender-based violence. Violence was looked at from various angles- as violation of economic rights, political rights, right of access to resources, right to express both in physical and digital world and so on. Representatives of rights based groups from parts of Urban and Rural areas shared their experience of working on women and girls, with farm workers, political participation and similar areas and also made presentations on women’s and girl’s agency for social justice.
Celebrated Sports Day by Learning Community Girls
As a part of the ongoing campaign Ab Nahi Toh Kab (Time is Now), demanding a safe city for girls, sports was used as a symbolic act to reclaim spaces that are often dominated by boys and men. The Adolescent Girls Learning Community in Mumbai, organised its Sports Day on November 30th, 2015 at Lalit Kala Bhavan ground in Mumbai. This event brought together 80 girl change makers and 700 adolescent girls from 10 wards of Mumbai to celebrate their right to access public spaces to play sports. This was also a chance for girls to engage with each other and build peer networks amongst themselves. Cricket, Frisbee, Football, Kabaddi, kanche (marbles), Handball – girls played as many games as they could. Girl leaders also presented their Declaration of Rights at this event. They were heard by the Mayor of Mumbai and Deputy Commissioner of Police and some Government Personnel.
One of the participant girls shared that for years she was trying to convince her father to enroll her name in a Kabaddi club. This event fulfilled her dreams when her father saw her picture playing Kabaddi in the newspaper and he felt so proud of her that he enrolled her in a club the next day. Many girls who came to the event have decided to go back to their communities, make girls’ groups and play in open spaces near their areas.
For more details visit the FB Page: Ab Nahi Toh Kab
Celebration of International Girls Day !
October 11th is observed as Girls Day internationally. At Vacha everyday is a Girls day. We salute to the creativity, resilience and curiosity of young girls and boys who participated in various competitions, Educational fairs for understanding gender and health as well as vocational guidance throughout 3 weeks. 2755 adolescent girls and 624 boys from 13 schools(including 9 government-run-schools) and 2 colleges shared their ideas, concerns and dreams with us and were excited to know about various vocational options, gender and health issues.
New initiative with girls from North Eastern suburb of Mumbai
Vacha recently extended its work in North Eastern suburb of Mumbai area in collaboration with RPG Foundation. Along with regular activities two health check up camps were arranged for the young girls in the area in the month of October. The doctors gave supplementary medicines to the girls. Nearly 178 girls benefited from these health check ups.
Girls’s photographs displayed at an Exhibition in Valsad
It was a proud moment for all the girls when they saw their photographs displayed in a big size print in an Exhibition by Vacha at Valsad, Gujarat on 10th July. These girls live in a poor neighbourhood in Valsad, which is seen by most people as ‘dirty’ and ‘unlivable’. The girls had a different take on this – their photographs show people of great resourcefulness and resilience, who are surely making their own rules of living in their basti despite lack of money and civic facilities. 400 children from nearby schools along with their teachers came to see the display. Activists, doctors and social workers from Valsad too visited. Perhaps the happiest to see the display and to see their daughters speaking publicly with the visitors were the proud parents of the photographers.
Rally on Community toilets in Malwani, Malad in collaboration with Right to Pee, Mumbai and Learning Community, Mumbai
Vacha girls in Malwani, Malad marched to demand better sanitation and solid waste management in their area. They were joined by Vacha girls from 6 nearby bastis of Mumbai, making it a significant step in girls building networks with each other to work on their issues. 1000 signatures were collected which will be used to advocate with local government for better facilities. Street plays were performed to raise awareness and gain support.
Girls and women face specific health and safety hazards due to poor sanitation and solid waste management that do not affect boys and men. Not visiting the toilet for long intervals causes health problems for women and girls. Similarly, heaps of uncleared garbage not only pose serious health threat, but also create a number of solitary and hidden spaces within the basti which become dangerous for girls.
Vacha girls assert that the right to safe and clean toilets and surroundings is a civic right they are entitled to. The girls have been holding a sustained campaign within their areas to gain this basic civic right.
Summer Workshops in schools
Like last year, this year also girls enjoyed their summer holidays with Vacha in various fun-filled workshops at different schools. They learned photography techniques, Origami work (paper art), puppet making, made things out of waste material. The workshops were conducted in 7 municipal schools in Mumbai.
Vacha girl’s photographs exhibited at Kala Ghoda Festival
Vacha girls had a proud moment when photographs clicked by them made way to the Mumbai’s prestigious Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2015. Visited by thousands of Mumbaikars, Vacha ‘photographs wall’ spoke of marginalised girls bold attempt to break free from gender prejudices and claim their freedom of expression. The photograph wall “Through the eyes of girls”, made an unforgettable impact on the visitors mind.
This exhibition featured photographs taken by girls living in bastis (slum communities) and villages of Mumbai and Thane District. The photographs aimed to present views of adolescent girls, who come from deprived backgrounds, to the wider public. They have used photography to tell important stories about poverty, deprivation, their struggles, and also about their dreams and achievements.
These girls have succeded in breaking through the digital divide and in presenting images of their world as they see it. The photographs have emerged during training workshops conducted by Vacha Trust in collaboration with the Photography Promotion Trust, Mumbai.
One of the photographer girl was quoted in Hindustan Times newspaper “My favourite photograph is up there — it shows a boy smiling at the camera, wearing dark glasses as he stands in a pile of garbage,” says a 17-year-old from Malwani whose pictures were among the 72 images on display.
Gender and Health Fair at Valsad, Gujarat
On 21st February around 400 young girls and boys of Mogravadi Basti in Valsad attended the much awaited Gender and Health Fair organised by Vacha Trust. Gender Fair is a fun-cum-learning activity where girls and boys get an opportunity to think about their future as well as develop an understanding of gender equality and rights.
Girls at this fair developed more understanding about menstruation as a normal process and clear misconceptions forced on them by the patriarchal society. Boys had their hands at threading needles and sewing on buttons while girls hammered nails into logs to understand gender equality in work.
It was encouraging to see boys cheering girls in one –minute nail hammering game. Some girls who have just entered puberty,expressed their happiness that till now they had a very misguided approach towards menstruation and that the information given was very helpful. At My Body stall they freely expressed about the inhibitions they felt about their body.
13th edition of Community Newsletter by youth released!!
A newsletter was released by youth from the community on Republic Day ie. 26 January across 11 communities. It is collective efforts for fund raising, writing articles, typing news, and dissemination in their community with a nominal charge. Youth performed street plays, gave speeches, took out rallies, sang songs, exhibited photographs at the event;
Some of the issues they focused were sanitation, absence of clean public toilets, garbage problem, youth involvement in narcotics, problems in accessing the subsidized grains provided by Government (PDS).
Go through some of glimpses from the newsletters…..
Youth in action:
At Equal Streets: The Equal Streets movement has arrived in one of the most crowded cities like Mumbai. Every Sunday morning local people with bikes, skateboards, yoga mats and footballs replace snarling traffic on a heavily polluted stretch of Mumbai road.The initiative is part of the Equal Streets movement, promoted by a group of 15 non-government organisations.
Youth and children especially the girls from Vacha have made their mark on Sunday, 11 Jan 2015 at Equal streets. The young people decided to walk the talk and do something different. The Umang group conducted a poster rally to uphold burning issues such as Gender Equality ,Girls Empowerment and making cities safer for women and children. While socio economically privilaged children were making houses and flowers, Vacha kids started with street sketching on the theme of Cleanliness. They then advanced to the stall of Pot Planting and surprised the organizers by calling for intelligent questions like name of plant, choice of soil, use and maintenance of the sapling etc. In the tattoo making stall, a Vacha kid stole the affection of the facilitators by asking them to calligraphy his name in a unique way.
At Youth Festival by SNEHA: One of the Vacha youth group-Umang had participated in the youth festival organized by SNEHA- (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action) on 11th January 2015 to commemorate National Youth Day. It was attended by youth from various colleges, non-college going youth, school going as well as NGO associated youth from across Mumbai. Various stalls were put up like singing, dancing, face painting, pot painting, street play, poem writing, photography, debate etc. at the festival. Our youth participated in various activies like pot painting, debate, street play, photography etc. Our girls won 2nd prize in photography and in debate. The Umang youth group got the 1st prize in street play.
Through the Eyes of Girls- A Photography Exhibition showing perspectives of adolescent girls
Vacha Trust has organized an exhibition of photographs on 16 and 17 December, 2014, at Anand Bal Bhavan, Dombivli, Dist. Thane. The photographs taken by girls living in villages of Pisavli and Golavli, near Dombivli were displayed in the exhibition. These photos are an outcome of a training workshop conducted by Vacha in collaboration with the Photography Promotion Trust, Mumbai.
The exhibition aimed to present views of girls, who come from deprived backgrounds, to the wider public. The exhibition was attended by nearly 400 students and 110 adults. The photographer girls who were present at the exhibition had a dialogue with the visiting public. They talked about deprivation, their struggles and also about their dreams and achievements.
Gender and Health Fair:
A Gender and Health Fair was organized for more than 800 girls and boys on 13th December, 2014 at Nakshatra Garden, Dombivli, Dist. Thane. The event was organized by Vacha Trust, Mumbai, in collaboration with Rotary Club of Dombivli Uptown. The fair was attended by students from 12 schools in Dombivli and Kalyan, including government run schools as well as private schools attended by poor children.
The event was for adolescents to develop awareness on topics such as gender equality, evils of superstition, changes during growing up, having a scientific temperament and ways to maintain good health through games and fun activities. Children played to their heart’s content at each stall.
At the ‘1 minute’ stall, girls realized they were quite good at hammering nails while boys learnt that they had a fair talent at stitching buttons, work they otherwise thought was meant for the other gender. At the ‘Snakes and Ladders’ stall, children discussed how believing in gender equality not helped them climb up the ladder in this game, but also helped them advance in life! The ‘creative writing’ stall had a number of children write impressive short poems in the span of a few minutes. Many children tried their hand at making beautiful paintings and origami creations at the ‘Art and Origami’ stall. Many others were left enthralled at the ‘Science Toys’ stall where children learnt about basic scientific concepts using toys made of waste material. Girls and boys learnt about physical and emotional changes during growing up at the ‘My body’ stalls. At these stalls, both girls and boys shared many of their doubts about growing up which they said they hadn’t got the space to talk about before. Another stall had girls sharing about different restrictions they face simply because they are girls; they then wrote down how they would break through each restriction controlling different parts of their body. They aimed at and ‘caught’ their dreams using rings at the ‘Rings’ stall. They also got the chance to wear uniforms and play at being police, lawyers, doctors and pilots.
As one girl said after attending the fair, “We have many dreams. But most times these dreams remain unfulfilled because we are girls. Here, we could reach for these dreams even if for a day.”
Gender training in colleges:
Gender training workshops were held in 4 colleges namely Kanya College, Gandhi Shikshan Bhavan, Nanavati Women’s College, L.J.N.J. Women’s College in Mumbai. Nearly 1000 students have been reached out through these workshops. The objectives of these workshops were to introduce gender issues to youth and discuss the same with them in order to gender sensitise them and to encourage youth to take action to participate in and contribute to struggle for gender justice in some way.
The participants were trained on the issues like sex and gender, patriarchy and its manifestation in the our own life and in media. They learnt relevant songs and games. The participants acted as volunteers in a gender fair organised for the students in their respective colleges. Some of the responses were: “We come to know what are the difficult situations a woman goes through in a society.” “I today understood, that we women too have equal rights in this male dominated society.” “We should treat everyone equally whether girl or boy, rich or poor.”
Learning Community for Adolescent Girls, Mumbai Year 2 completion:
The Year 2 event was organized by Learning Community of seven organizations Vacha, Akshara, Aagan, Vidhayak Sansad, CORO, Stree Mukti Sanghathna and Dosti Project along with EMpower, USA on 3rd November, 2014 in Mumbai. Divya & Vishal Taurani from Empower, Hong Kong Board were the special invitees for the event. It was attended by NGOs in Mumbai, Funders and other well wishers addressing rights of adolescent girls. Program commenced with an opening welcome note by Nisha Dhawan Program Officer India EMpower.
This event was to showcase activities planned and implemented by girls across Mumbai on the issue of “Restrictions on girls in Public spaces.” Several awareness building activities were organized by the girls on safety of girls and also communicated with community members and government officials to create safe spaces for girls in the city. In all there were seven groups represented from seven organizations that had presented their activities, successes and learnings. Interestingly, girls in Learning Community Year 2 had organized street plays, rallies, community meetings, signature campaigns, girls’ sports days, and written letters to Corporators and used photography to capture unsafe spaces and show the world about these spaces. Moreover, the event culminated into planning and discussion for Learning Community Year 3, to build a Mumbai level campaign on issues of Girls’ safety and mobility in Public spaces which would be led by girls.
Read the Yearbook of activities in Resources/ Reports page.
How safe am I ?- A photo exhibition by girls
“Which public space is safe for us?” is a question asked by several girls residing in the bastis (slums) of Santacruz-Andheri. Boys have occupied every open space where girls could have used for their activities.
Girls moved about in their bastis to mark the unsafe areas and captured these shots into their cameras.The photographs were interesting as these girls left no corner in their bastis un turned; may it be day time of the twilight, even the crowded areas seemed unsafe with men leering at the cameras. This was an activity of girls in the age group of 13-17 years. An incredible venture into the spaces they would’ve never dared on their own. They faced the junkies and the rowdies from a distance to get them into the snapshot; despite all the apprehension and discomfort. “Our photographs will get people talking. We will be able to share our feelings and incidents from the past that made us feel unsafe,” was expressed by some of the girls.
Girls were trained in photography skills ,understanding gender and leadership skills. These were the selected girls across the centres who were ready through all our interventions to take up this challenge.Cameras handled by the girls gave them the sense of power to move ahead and complete their mission.”While we were taking the photos, boys passed comments and told us to delete pictures, but the camera made me feel empowered.”
There was an exhibition of 60 photographs by these girls on 12 July, 2014 at Balkanji-Bari, Santacruz, Mumbai entitled “How Safe Am I?”
This exhibition was attended by more than 500 young people and general public where the photographers interacted with audiance.
Photography Exhibition at Dombivali, January 4, 2014
An exhibition of photographs and art created by girls and boys living in villages of Thane District, was put up at Anand Bal Bhavan, Dombivali, Dist.Thane, Maharashtra on January 4, 2014. The display material had emerged during workshops and sessions conducted by Vacha in the villages. The adolescent artists and photographers were themselves present to inaugurate the display, and interacted with students visiting the exhibition from nearby municipal schools. It was a public platform for these young girls and boys to express themselves to their peers, and also to the general public. Themes included ‘moments of joy’, ‘work’, ‘leisure’, ‘scenes from my basti’, ‘my fears’, and aspirations of education and of a world without discrimination. 400 students along with their teachers, and more than 70 social workers, activists, photography enthusiasts, local press and interested public visited the exhibition throughout the day.
Learning Community for Adolescent Girls in Mumbai, India
Learning Community, a Mumbai-based initiative wherein four NGO’s (Vacha, Vidhayak Sansad, Akshara and Aangan) have come together to make essential interventions to develop leadership skills among adolescent girls so that become pro-active and participate in public life. Vacha is the coordinating agency for this initiative. Girls of Vacha who are part of this programme implemented activities in their bastis to reclaim public spaces and to challenge restrictions that are placed on them in public life. They organized rallies, performed street plays and also arranged a sport’s day for girls on a public playground. A Yearbook of the Learning Community’s activities was released in September 2013. Four more groups have joined the Learning Community in 2014, making it a total of 8 member organizations in the network.
Seminar on Violence Against Girls – Perception, Prevention and Follow up action, December 2 – 3, 2013
Vacha, in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Delhi, organised a two-day National Seminar on Violence against Girls – Perceptions, Prevention and Follow up action on December 2-3, 2013. The focus was on violence faced by girls in the second decade of life. Presentations were made on creation of vulnerability to violence in girls, Communal and Caste violence and the predicament of girls, Child Labour, Violence on the street and Internet, Trafficking and Migration issues, Forced Sexuality, and Law and Violence against Girls. This seminar was attended by around 100 delegates.
International Day of the Girl, October 11, 2013:
October 11 was declared as the International Day of the Girl Child in 2011. It was celebrated enthusiastically by girls of Vacha centres who took the initiative in asserting girls’ rights through leaflets, a gender and health fair and health camps. Girls in the 11-16 age groups created a leaflet about girls’ rights, using art and poetry. They distributed over 1500 leaflets in various poor neighbourhoods. While distribution, girls kept in mind that many in their community, especially women, would probably not be able to read the pamphlet. They took it upon themselves to explain the content while disseminating it, and also discussed the importance of celebrating a day for girls.
Outreach activities – Health and Gender Fairs, October 2013
Health and Gender fairs were organized in the area of Kalyan-Dombivali in Thane District, in Valsad, Gujarat, and in two communities and one college in Mumbai. The response in all these areas was enthusiastic. Each fair was attended by around 400 children from nearby neighbourhoods and schools. Local leaders, NGOs, social workers, and school teachers visited both the events. Other than these, Career Guidance Fairs were organized in two municipal schools in Mumbai. Outreach in these was around 500 children.
Outreach activities – Eye check-up camps, October 2013
Eye check-up camps were held in 3 bastis in Mumbai in October, 2013. They were held in coordination with Bhrashtachar Virodhi Sangh and Doctor Eye Institute. 417 girls and women benefited from these camps. Spectacles were distributed, some free and some at concessional rates, to those who needed them.
Activities by Umang group
Umang, one of our youth groups, organized a rally to protest violence against girls and women, in which 550 people, including college students and NGO representatives, marched from Santacruz station to Juhu Beach in Mumbai. Umang members raised funds for the event, prepared posters, created slogans and performed a street play. More than a 1000 people viewed the rally and the street play performance, and showed solidarity to the cause. Umang also held a Gender Fair at Girivanvasi Educational Trust’s Learning Center at Nareshwadi, Dahanu, Thane District, for 184 tribal children in the age group of 10 to 18 years.
One Billion Rising launched in Kalyan, January 4, 2013:
One Billion Rising was launched in Kalyan in Thane District on January 4, 2013 with 500 girls. One billion rising is a global campaign against violence against women and girls started by Eve Ensler, author of celebrated play Vagina Monologues and women’s rights activist. Kalyan-Dombivli is a 2 hour ride from Mumbai and Vacha is active in several bastis there. The event was for girls in classes 5 to 7 in several schools in the neighborhood and they said they were excited by a Girls’ Only space created at the fair. The first activity at the fair was kite flying by girls, making it a confident entry in a male bastion. The kites had multilingual slogans on them. Along with these OBR messages written on the kites, girls’ joy took wings and flew sky-high. Apart from kites, girls participated in creating another resource for OBR. Vacha young team had produced simple bookmarks with calendar for 2013 at the back. Special dates like OBR in February, Women’s Day in March, Girls’ Day in Oct. and Human Rights Day in Dec. were highlighted and mentioned. Each girl wrote a slogan against violence against women and girls in front and carried back the bookmark for use in a textbook. This was followed by games, writing activities and film-viewing which were all designed for the girls to start thinking and expressing themselves against violence. Writing anonymously on the ‘democracy wall’ revealed a lot of their feelings and experience including a matter that had to be taken up with the relevant school. One thing is certain. The idea that there is an event, a campaign, where women and girls can rise together in solidarity and protest appeals to adolescent girls greatly and they feel excited about being actively involved in the process. Not always very clearly, not necessarily in so many words but they are very much there with the rest.
Bombay ki Kahani- Mumbai ki Zubani, December 15, 2012
Vacha and WRAG jointly organized an art workshop on creative expressions of Adolescent Girls on Peace and Justice as part of Bombay ki Kahani- Mumbai ki Zubani – why remember campaign. 32 girls participated in this workshop at Vacha project office.
Symposium on Girls at margins- Questioning Constraints, Claiming Future, November 23-24, 2012:
Vacha had organized the symposium at YMCA, Colaba in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Delhi. A book titled ‘Rights of Adolescent Girls in India: A critical look at laws and policies’ by Saumya Uma was released at the event. Ms. Nandita Das, Actress and Filmmaker was the Chief Guest for the event and Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Head of Women Power Connect, Delhi released the book. Marginalization of Girls due to their gender, caste, religion, sexuality and socio –economic backgrounds, Empowering processes that help girls to take charge of their situations and future scenario for girls were some of the main themes of the symposium. Girls themselves made presentations and participated in this symposium. More than 120 Students and faculty members from different colleges and NGO representatives attended the 2 day symposium. Parallel activities were also organized for girls in foyer to help them raise and speak on the issue of violence against women and girls as the launch of One Million rising campaign against violence against women and girls.
Outreach Activities – September and October 2012
An audio-visual presentation by Jyoti Mohan on ‘M.S. Subalakshmi’s music and life’ was organized by Vacha. Career guidance exhibitions were held in one municipal school in Andheri and a junior college in Santacruz. Approximately 600 children benefited by the exhibitions. (1 photo) Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) organized a students’ campaign on ‘Body Politics’. Several organizations participated in the campaign. Vacha did film screening and interactive games were played. New Initiative- An Empower initiative, Learning Community, for its Mumbai grantees is being coordinated by Vacha. Girls are being given leadership training to carry out projects of change in their communities.
Girls Resource Centre’s expansion in Malad and Kalyan, February and May, 2012
Vacha has extended its programmes in the suburbs of Mumbai and the satellite towns in adjoining Thane District. This project has started interventions in Malvani, Jogeshwari and Kalyan. Centres for girls have been established and they have participated in various workshops, gender and health fairs in addition to regular sessions. Health checkups and follow ups for treatment were also carried out. Approximately 300 adolescent girls have participated in these interventions.
Participation in campaigns: Right to Education:
Vacha is an active member of the Right to Education network and has participated in various campaigns in the past. With the new academic year commencing, Vacha has taken up the initiative to facilitate children who have dropped out of school or have just come from villages to get admissions in schools. Right to Pee: More than 32 organizations have come together for an alliance to demand the right to pee. Vacha has been active from the initial phases of this campaign and have carried out activities like survey of the public toilets, analysis, signature campaign, meeting various state level authorities and performing street plays in communities. The campaign has succeeded in getting the state government to approve 500 public urinals with provision of funds of Rs 37 crores for the same. Right To Food campaign: Community based youth groups supported by Vacha regularly organize meetings on the issue of right to food in their neighbourhoods. They raise issues like corruption, availability of food grains, and the proper functioning of the PD Systems (Ration shops) in their communities. They spread awareness and try to form pressure groups through these meetings.
Yuvak-Yuvati Mela, May 2012
A Yuvak-Yuvati Mela was held at Govandi, a suburb in North-east Mumbai in the month of May. Stree Mukti Sanghatana, ICRW, Akshara, Pratham, CORO, Apnalaya, Sneha and Vacha organized the event. The theme was gender issues. There were interactive games and events. Vacha put up a stall ‘MeraSundarSapna’ about the youths’ dreams and aspirations for the future. There were also screenings of films made by them.
Summer time is always packed with activities. Different workshops were carried out in schools and bastis. Around 140 girls participated in these workshops. Sessions on mask making, cartoon strips, ornaments, collage work, photography. Power point presentations on topics such as ‘Our visit to the fire station’, ‘ Our community work with Vacha’ and ‘How we produce our newsletter’ were made.
Poster and Drawing competitions:
To encourage expressions in girls, poster making and drawing competitions were held in several schools and colleges in Mumbai. Some of the prize winning entries have been published as posters. These can be viewed in our publications section.
Participation in Symposiums and Conferences:
Medhavinee Namjoshi was invited to a make a presentation on ‘ ICT’s in Youth Leadership’ at a National Consultation on Gender and Media Literacy organized by Nirantar on 20th and 21st March 2012 in Lucknow. Yagna Parmar and Chhaya Sawant made presentations on Vacha’s work on ‘youth leadership’ and ‘violence and its impact on women’s health, reproductive & sexual health and rights’ with focus on menstruation practices and its impact on girl’s health. These were presented in a symposium organised by SNEHA, an NGO at an all India symposium on ‘Understanding Community Based Interventions on Prevention of Violence against Women and Children: A Reflection on Innovations, Successes and Challenges.’
Women’s Day celebrated in bastis, March 8, 2012:
Women’s day was celebrated by youth and girls participating in Vacha activities in several of our basti centres. The response was heartwarming. There were games, lecture demonstrations and film screenings for mothers and young women in their communities. Some of the women who thought they would stay for a few minutes stayed for the whole event and felt exhilarated that they were playing games and voicing their own opinions on subjects that mattered to them like girls education, superstitions etc. In one of the centres’ they were taken to another school so that they would not be disturbed by calls for daily chores. The youth group which had mobilized the mothers convinced the husbands and children at home to help with household chores.
Participation in Kala Ghoda Arts festival, Feb 2012:
At the Mumbai’s prestigious Kala Ghoda’s art festival photographs by girls from various bastis in and around Mumbai were displayed. It was the first time the girl’s work was displayed to such a large group. Two girls from the Vacha’s photography workshops received second and third prizes respectively in an open competition for NGOs to click the ongoing festival on the last day.
Photography Exhibition at Sophia College, January 6-7, 2012
The Sophia Centre for Women’s Studies and Development in collaboration with the Departments of English and Mass Media, Sophia College, and the Social Communications Media Department, Sophia Polytechnic, conducted an interdisciplinary seminar on the theme of Women’s Spaces, Women’s Voices in Mumbai at the Sophia Bhabha Auditorium on 6th & 7th January 2012. Vacha was invited to present ‘Girls Voices and Girls spaces’. ‘Bole Kishori – Girls Speak through photography – an exhibition of photographs by girls from socio-economically disadvantage communities are given training through various workshops were on display. Over 400 viewed the display. Dr. Jim Masselos, an urban historian and art collector commented “Excellent photography & display. They show sensitivity to the subjects & to their situation. A splendid achievement.” Anu Salelkar, from Vacha made a presentation on “Empowerment through expression”, about the project ‘Bole Kishori- Girls speak out!’
Participation in the 6th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights, October 2011
The 6th APCRSHR was held at the Gadjah Mada University at Yogyakarta, Indonesia from 20-22 October 2011. Two team members from Vacha attended the conference. They made presentations on:
- ‘Fighting Gender and Caste Issues in Menstruation Practices – A project of Girl’s empowerment’
- ‘Children – Active agents of Change and Advocates for their Rights’
Children’s Day Celebrated with Inter-community dance competition, November 2011
Children’s day which is celebrated on 14th November in India, was celebrated a day earlier with an Inter community dance competition. More than 275 children from all the 10 communities that Vacha works with participated in this event. A competition of this scale and size was organized by popular demand by the youth representatives of each basti. Apart from being a fun way to celebrate Children’s Day, it was a good opportunity for children from different bastis to interact with each other. They performed folk dances and danced to some patriotic numbers as well. The dances were choreographed by the group themselves and the programme was anchored by members of the youth group. The group from Juhu Koliwada won the first prize for its excellent choreography and team work.
Consultation Meet on Availability of IEC Materials for Adolescent Girls, July 2011
Vacha undertook a review on IEC materials available on adolescent girls’ health. To share the findings a consultation meet was organized jointly by Vacha and Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation at YMCA, Colaba in July. Experts from NGOs, government agencies, international development agencies and independent consultants working on the issue attended the consultation. A report of the review and consultation meet along with resource list is available with Vacha.
Performance of Street Plays in bastis, September 2011
During the ten day Ganpati festival, (a major religious festival in Maharashtra) several community groups organize socially relevant and cultural programmes. For the third time, Vacha youth have used this opportunity to perform street plays in bastis. Children from six community centres of Vacha performed street plays in their community space and in community spaces other than their own. They performed street plays on problems faced by girls, rising cost of living and harmful effects of tobacco and alcohol. Link to one of the performances on our Blog: http://girlhoodindia.wordpress.com
Umang Youth Group emerges
One more youth group was formed in Juhu Koliwda community ‘Umang’(aspirations). They have actively organized and implemented a Career Fair for youth in collaboration with Vacha in their community. They put up informative stalls on career options and courses available for youth. Concerned about safe spaces for girls in their community, Umang group organized an awareness programme on the topic of sexual harassment. They screened a film on the issue followed by a discussion and sharing by youth from the community. One of them declared that he would not tease women and girls anymore.
Photography Exhibition at Valsad, June 18, 2011
Vacha had organized an exhibition of photographs taken by girls in the age group 11-16. The exhibition took place on 18th June, 2011. It was in collaboration with Lions Club of Valsad, Tithal Road. This was an outcome of workshops on self expression for girls. The girls were from Dhobi Talav area of Valsad, Gujarat. The exhibition was followed by performances by girls. 120 photographs taken by the girls were exhibited. The topics were; my neighbourhood, my family and friends. Students from schools and colleges, parents, friends and neighbours from the girls community and general public visited the exhibition.
Gender Training for youth
Five residential workshops on Gender and Democracy were held this year. The workshops were attended by college youth, teacher trainees, NSS students, youth from communities and NGO representatives. At around 150 participated in these workshops. Some comments from the participants: ‘I believed in equality but it did not reflect in my action and behaviour, but now it will’. ‘I will ensure that I incorporate everyone’s views when I make a decision. I will also do house work.’ ‘I have gained the strength to go against the tide. My risk taking capacity has increased. I had postponed taking decisions but from now on I have started taking them.’ ‘I will not stop my sister from going out, I will respect her independence.’
Fudan University Workshop
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Shanghai office jointly with Fudan University had organized an international workshop on “Changing values on campus in international perspective” on 24th November 2011 in Shanghai. Sonal Shukla from Vacha made a presentation on youth movements in India.
Video Essay training workshop with girls 17 day workshop with the journalism students of L.J.N.J. Mahila College, Vile Parle, Mumbai was held in the month of November. Training was given in film appreciation, handling camera and script writing. They were encouraged to tell their own stories. Their films are about problems they face and how they overcome them and about women and work. You can view these films by following the link http://girlhoodindia.wordpress.com/girls-voices/
Youth Group are ready and taking action Vacha’s work with youth has led to the emergence of two autonomous youth groups in Nehru Nagar and Baandh community. A third youth group has recently been formed in Juhu Koliwada. They are still in the process of coming together. Bandh youth groups, namely Samata (equality/peaceful understanding) group and Nakshatra (Constellation of stars/planets) in Nehru Nagar. These groups were given training in leadership. They now work on issues such as Rationing, Domestic Violence, Enrolment of School drop outs as part of Right to Education campaign , problem of ‘Eve teasing’ and more. Both groups actively participated in Bell Bajao (Ring the Bell) campaign initiated by women’s organization Break through. One of the youth from Samata group, who has grown with Vacha from a young school child to be a confident young woman has joined our team as an assistant teacher. Samata group had invited a resource person from Ration Kruti Samiti to train them in this area. Ration Kruti Samiti is a network of NGOs and CBOs in Maharashtra which works on issues related to PDS and food security. They are the convener organization for Anna Adhikar Abhiyaan, a network of organizations and forums from Maharashtra concerned about food and livelihood security of people. Vacha is a member of the same. Samata group members conducted a survey of ration shops in their area and thereafter conducted a couple of meetings on ration issues in their bastis to inform residents of their rights with regard to rations. The Nakshatra group performed a street play on the menace of eve teasing and made presentations on using the Police Helpline for women. Both the groups also participated in the Bell Bajao Campaign a national campaign to create awareness about domestic violence. The Nakshatra and Samta groups performed street plays to highlight the issue. This group has also written letter to local Police station to address the issue of eve teasing and fighting in the basti The groups have also organized drawing and essay competitions in their basti and schools in their area on topics ‘What progress I would like to see in my basti’ and ‘What is societal violence’. More than 50 youths participated in these competitions from the community as well as the private and municipal schools in the neighbourhood.
Women’s Day Celebration with Book Release
- Experiencing Girlhood –Stories from Bastis in Mumbai
- Bole Kishori
- Girls and Girlhoods: On Threshold of Youth and Gender
Vacha Resource Centre has produced three books on girls and girlhoods and released them on 5th March 2010 to celebrate women’s day. ‘Girls and Girlhoods: On Threshold of Youth and Gender’–A 950 page volume that emerged from a symposium Vacha had organized in co-ordination with the P.G. Dept. of Economics of SNDT Women’s University. Edited by Dr. Vibhuti Patel, who also had invited more papers on the topics related to the issue. It is printed and published by The Women Press, Delhi as a Vacha Initiative. ‘Experiencing Girlhood –Stories from Bastis in Mumbai’– edited by Sonal Shukla and Nischint Hora is a collection of 25 stories from documents of girls who live in bastis and study in Municipal schools. ‘Bole Kishori’– edited by Medhavinee Namjoshi, documents girl’s own experiences as articulated by them in writing or expressed through art and photography. These are outcomes of workshops conducted by Vacha as Creative writing, art and photography. Three girls also read from Bole Kishori. Vacha can be contacted for copies of ‘Experiencing Girlhood’ & ‘Bole Kishori’. ‘On Threshold of Youth and Gender’ was released by Ms. Thekkekara who is Principle Secretary, Minority Development Department and former Member Secretary, Maharashtra State Commission for Women. The other two books were released by Dr. Usha Thakkar, Honorary Director, Institute of Research on Gandhian Thought and Rural Development, Mani Bhavan who has been a Professor of Political Science. She also reviewed the book later for several publications. The book release was combined with screening of two short films produced by girls in some of the basti centres of Vacha. These were ‘Dahi Handi’ & ‘Peruwali’. All the short films made by girls and by Vacha staff have been put on YouTube.
Kishori Melas: Dakshin Gujarat Jagrut Mahila Mandal (South Gujarat Progressive Women’s Forum) in Surat invited Vacha to conduct a special event for girls on 29th and 30th April 2010 .This was organized at Koshad and Surat during celebration of the golden jubilee of creation of Gujarat State. Vacha planned a two day event of special fairs for girls. The theme was on joys of being girls and stalls held activities giving messages of health and gender. Approximately 1600 girls in two centres participated in these events and additionally Anganwadi workers, teachers, social workers, women’s groups and civic government employees. The Mayor of Surat, Commissioner of Surat also attended the mela.
21-Nov-2009 Balika Din – Celebration of Girlhood: 21st November, 2009 was celebrated as a Girl’s Day Celebration. In a project of girls’ participation in their own empowerment Vacha Trust has been working with girls who live in bastis and generally attend Municipal schools in Mumbai. It was a programme of sports, games and creative activities to celebrate Children’s Day as well 20 years of Convention on Rights of the Child through which issues of girlhood can also be advocated. 947 girls from ten bastis and 8 Municipal schools participated. The age group was 12-14. One special feature was that most of the volunteers were under 20 girls either from NSS groups in local colleges or older girls from bastis centres of Vacha. The response to the Celebration of Girlhood was tremendous. This has to be viewed in context of the unfortunate situation that in many BMC schools there are no sports, music or craft teachers. Hardly any events are held where all students can participate. Boys have a sense of entitlement over the school grounds that very few girl students access. Public grounds are always occupied for outdoor sports for boys and men. Girls living in bastis with small narrow lanes and restrictions on their movements have very little chance for outdoor games or races. Even if there are interschool events in BMC schools, only the best performers are given a chance to participate. It is not surprising that girls responded very enthusiastically to the programme activities and responded positively to them. Their command over written expression tends to be limited due to academic standards of their schools so oral responses were also taken by girls on video camera. 6-8 Nov-2009 At the Threshold of Youth and Gender – National Symposium on Girls and Girlhoods: This symposium aimed to focus on girlhoods, generate information about girls’s realities and to create a platform for groups and individuals concerned about their issues. Girls from different locations were invited, together with scholars and practitioners, to make presentations and to celebrate girlhood. Key Note Address of the symposium was delivered by the well known educationist and Right to Education campaigner Prof. Anita Rampal – Dept. of Education (Elementary and Social education), Delhi University and Guests of Honour were Dr. Syeda Hameed – Member, Planning Commission and Upagna Pandya, Playback singer in girl centered films Makdee and Blue Umbrella and in Vacha Album of songs of girlhood. The Kishori Utsav – Celebration of Girlhood – in the foyer and quadrangle was a hub of activities with girl participants from local organizations. Upagna Pandya inaugurated the Kishori Utsav – Celebration of Girlhood event. Over 400 girls from Mumbai and from different parts of India participated in this event. Papers presented at the symposium will form basis of a forthcoming publication on girls’s issues.