When a group of boys indulge in catcalling, the victim can be a girl from any section of society – economically backward or affluent. The problems of gender and justice, are therefore the same for different strata of society. “We therefore wanted to create a space where the school becomes an experiential program,” says Bijayalaxmi Nanda, associate professor, Miranda House, while mentoring a group of youngsters in a movable tent as part of the campaign School of Life.
While roaming around in Delhi University colleges, one can spot this tent at some college or the other. Nanda says, “We set it up thinking that people from different backgrounds should be able to mentor youngsters from different backgrounds. The idea was to allow them to come and learn at the same platform, so that what the college students learn theoretically can be confronted by what the community children experience practically.”
Miranda House college has associated with the NGO Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), to enable young minds to discuss about societal issues together. As part of this, the campaign has travelled to different colleges in DU and enabled youngsters to come up with a graphic novel, community newspaper and even films.
Jayam Singh Chauhan, a final year student of BA Program, Miranda House says, “Basic things such as our rights and gender are topics that we have read about in our books. But when we spoke to the community children, we realised that they aren’t aware of them yet their knowledge of practical life is immense. So, it is important for us to share the bookish knowledge with them, and through School of Life, we can understand how to deal with real-life situations better.”
This collaborative exchange also includes survivors of violence. Chauhan adds, “Concepts of gender and patriarchy are things that we have been hearing since quite a few years now. But when we start interacting with youngsters from other social backgrounds, we realise how deeply rooted these concepts are in our lives.”
Recollecting a recent survivor story, Akhila Sivadas, executive director, CFAR says, “A young woman who is a divorcee and faced a lot of discrimination at home, participated in this campaign and is now working as a salaried employee to support her family.”