Womenite is fighting patriarchy by teaching children gender equalityPrakriti Kargeti
It has conducted sessions at over 40 schools and organisations(including other NGOs) and over 15 colleges, thus, impacting more than 10,000 students.
A young changemaker
“Womenite is a youth-led initiative that aims to bring change by changing ideologies and beliefs. It’s a social organisation working for the upliftment of the marginalised groups in this patriarchal society. It’s a group of like-minded individuals working together to bring about tangible change in society. It’s an initiative which covers all the social aspects under the canopy of feminism,” says Harshit Gupta.
Harshit Gupta, a 22-year-old engineer, is the Founder of Womenite. He’s an engineer by education and a social entrepreneur by choice. He completed his graduation in the IT branch of engineering in 2017 from Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, Delhi University. He has been working to create a gender-equal society through love, education, and empowerment.
Harshit has many feathers in his cap. He’s a TEDx speaker and one of the highly commended runners-up for the prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award chosen by Queen Elizabeth II. He is a Global Youth Ambassador for A World At School campaign. A world At School is a global campaign advocating for SDG 4 i.e. Quality education for all. The Global Youth Ambassadors are advocates and campaigners for education change around the world.
Since it’s inception in 2015,Womenite has worked tirelessly to bring change by organising offline events as well as online campaigns for awareness and education. There are 40+ members in the team who all are college students from different Delhi University and colleges. There are few clinical psychologists and gynecologists who are also associated with Womenite through various mentorship programs like Global Action on Poverty and Leading Change which is a unique course created by University of Cambridge specially for The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, that brings in experts and practitioners to teach and share their insights from their own countries, in their own unique styles. It is a Delhi-NCR based organisation.
“We aim to filter the ill attitudes and wrong frame sets in the society by eliminating baseless superstition, gender norms, stereotypes and taboos which affect the lives of women. Our focus is evolving and concerns other genders as well who are constantly seeking their identity to be accepted. Gender equality issues direct most of our activities in which the main beneficiaries are small children who will be the future of the country,” says Harshit.
He further adds, “When a little girl feels comfortable enough to tell us how she was abused, when a lady talks about how she wants to be a part of this movement, and when a man shares his belief in feminism… we know we are creating an impact. We want people to talk about these stereotypes that are predominant in the society and make them feel empowered so that they can fight for themselves rather than relying on someone else to fight for them.”
Till this date, Womenite has conducted sessions in over 40 schools and organisations(including other NGOs) and over 15 colleges, thus, impacting over 10,000 students.
Womenite conducts workshops in three domains: child sexual abuse (CSA), gender equality, and menstrual hygiene. The workshop on child sexual abuse finds its target audience in the children of age group 11 and above. It aims to educate and make
children aware of the evils of abuse and how to cope with the situation by developing certain defense mechanisms.
Sensitisation through workshops
The workshop on child sexual abuse functions in four age brackets: grade 4,grade 5-6, grade 7-8, and grades 9-10. It aims to educate students about safe and unsafe touch; talk to them about danger, trust, and safety; give them a concept of personal space;make them aware of abuse and its types, i.e. contact and non-contact. It also works towards debunking myths around the issue, makes them aware of digital abuse and its domain, informs them about the POCSO act, Childline, and ultimately, creates a safe space for them.
The workshop on gender equality finds its target audience in the children of ages 12 and above. Its primary objective is to make children realise that gender inequality does not exist in a vacuum; rather, it permeates every part of our life and affects everybody and everyone, regardless of the social systems that bind them. The gender equality workshop has a follow up, i.e. the feminism workshop that introduces children to the concept and ideologies behind feminism.
The workshop on menstrual hygiene aims to educate and inform people both young and old about the process of menstruation— the basic biology behind it, the need of the process. It motivates the audience to use products available in the market that are aimed towards menstrual hygiene. It also serves to bust myths and folklore around the menstruation process, further clearing up people’s minds about periods and at the same time, initiating open-ended talks about menstruation and abolishing the taboos around it.
“We were recognised as one of the star changemakers out of 200 people who were selected for Global Action on Poverty(GAP) 2016 organised at Gandhi Ashram.We were selected for fifthAction for India Forum, organised at IIT-Delhi,” adds Harshit.
Womenite was also a proud co-winner of the World Merit Day 2016 out of 250 events being conducted in more than 50 countries to spread awareness about Sustainable Development Goals laid by the United Nations.
Womenite also had the honour of being one of the 30 changemakers from all over the world for Make Room India Programme 2016 held in Bengaluru and Vatican Youth Symposium held at Vatican City in October 2016. Womenite was also invited to the UN Women’s headquarters in New York to present their project as a part of Brown Bag Activity. It also participated in the Startup Launchpad event organised at Vigyan Bhawan and addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2016.
Information is the key
Harshit remembers, “When we were conducting a workshop on ‘gender norms’ with about 25 girls of grades 7-9, the girls very enthusiastically brought up the word ‘feminist’. Even though, they didn’t know the ideology behind it, they still knew the word. And that is a brilliant reflection of today’s society: incomplete knowledge.”
He further adds, “Access to information through internet has become so widespread that people know words and terms but do not know what they actually mean. This inspires us to do more work towards helping them gather knowledge and understand the concepts behind ‘labels’.”
Womenite was also successful in organising the first feminist fest- ‘Darpan’ at Delhi College of Arts and Commerce on the occasion of International Women’s day 2017.
Speaking about future plans, Harshit says, “Womenite aims to reach out to a wider audience, especially children, with its existing campaigns and sessions on various topics.We also want to open a helpline for counselling and assistance of children.”
Launching and execution of Project SHE: Sexuality, Healthcare, and Education is also one of the important goals that Womenite aims to realise in the future. Training their members to be better changemakers of the society as well as improving their skills is also a crucial part of what the organisation wishes to do.
Harshit mentions, “The most important goal is to make a better society to live in through education, awareness, and empathy. In five years, we would expect Womenite to be a name which pops up in your mind when you think of the kind of change you want for the future generation. We wish to extend our operations to faraway places and help restore as many smiles as we can.”
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