MAVA and my project

Last week was Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. Diwali symbolises the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Homes and buildings are decorated with lights, firecrackers are being set on fire in almost every street corner and it is not only cute little *pops* and *cracks* but rather the sounds of tiny bombs. Everyone is laughing at me for jumping of my chair from being startled. It feels like even the cats who lives in my apartment are looking at me weirdly after my little jerking dancemoves.

As promised in my last post I will give you a short introduction to the organisation I will be working with and what my study will be about.

The Mumbai based NGO Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA) is the first men’s organization in India directly intervening against gender-based violence towards women. For the past 25 years MAVA has been working on engaging men and boys in India on gender issues and equality. Over the years, they have developed several methods for involving young people through interactive workshops, street-plays, newspapers, poetry reading sessions, talks and discussions.

See their website for more info: www.mavaindia.org

I will be doing a qualitative study on one of MAVA’s programs. A one year mentor-training program engaging male college students in conversations addressing issues related to gender based discrimination and violence. The growing demand of involving men and boys to achieve gender equality has led to an increased number of organisations and programs around the world to answer this demand. Where MAVA is one of them. With the theory that gender norms and social values are socialised from an early age, leading to the unequal power relation, MAVA tries to break gender stereotypes and change men’s and boys’ views on patriarchal society. I intend to interview 10 college students who have recently completed MAVAs one-year mentor training to investigate how they describe their experiences of the program. Focus will be on the training program seen from the participating students’ perspective ending in a report for MAVA to use in developing their approaches and programs.

My overall research question aims to cover: How do the interviewed participants of MAVA’s mentoring training describe the programs content and the impact it has had on how they perceive gender-based discriminations, equality and patriarchal norms in society after completing the one-year program?

Priya and me at Tata Institute of Social Sciences

One last exciting thing before I end this post is that I yesterday met with Priya, my translator for this project. She is herself studying a master in Social Work at Tata Institute of Social Sciences here in Mumbai. It was great to meet her to discuss the best way to go about the interviews which I hope we can start with next week!

Take care,

Petronella

First week in Mumbai

India, Mumbai:
As part of my Bachelor degree in Social Work at Malmö University I spent five months earlier this year in Mumbai to carry out my field placement (Verksamhetsförlagd utbildning). The internship was with a non-governmental organisation called Vacha which focuses on girls’ and young women’s empowerment and education. Vacha is a term in several Indian languages meaning speech, articulation and self-expression and the organisation work to give the girls a voice and a platform to be able to speak up in their communities and public spaces. If you want to read more about their work in their community centres in and around Mumbai you can follow the link below: www.vacha.org.in

 

Going home in the “rik” Click for GIF

I am now back in Mumbai for a MFS and looking forward to further experience this fast paced and intense life that this city, with a population of about 22 million, has to offer. The people, the food, the sounds and the smells. The culture, the colours and celebrations. The luxury and the poverty. The traffic… well maybe not so much the traffic but at least you always have something interesting to look at while you are stuck in an auto rikshaw. Surrounded by hundreds of other “riks”, cars, motorbikes, trucks, dogs, goats, street sellers, all while in 36 degrees, breathing in the heavenly smell of pollution. How can one  not I love it?

 

Adventures in South Mumbai

 

 

India is the fastest growing economy in the world. However, not everyone seems to be onboard the fast moving train of progress. The Indian middle class might be growing but there is, for example, a gaping rural-urban divide as well as a gender discriminations when it comes to economic progress and development. So yes there is a whole bunch of inequalities in this country. Not only economic, but also when it comes to social rights  and opportunities. But there is also good things happening:

A ban of single use plastic
Decriminalizing homosexuality

The above links are just two examples of big top-level decisions. However, on grassroot level great things are happening every day. I have seen this during my internship and I get motivated by these hardworking people that want to see positive change in their communities and country.

So follow me on my two months minor field study to see where it takes me. In my next post I will introduce you to my project and the organisation I will be working with – Men Against Violence and Abuse.

Take care of eachother,

Petronella

Tanzania – a last reflection

During three months, I did a field study in Tanzania about aid and women’s education. I investigated two projects that focus on young women’s education. One of the projects is the Mama-course program, which gives pregnant girls a second chance to education, and the other is the Help-to-help foundation, which offers scholarships and skill-training to ambitious students who wish to study at university but don’t have the economic means to pay the tuition fees. After interviewing numerous people, I strongly believe that both of DSC02099these programs are important, and that they include a new way of thinking about aid. In my opinion, these projects respond to the local needs, build human capacity, and provide ground for making long-lasting changes in the society. They alter social norms, help people to be independent, and thus, empower the poor and marginalized.

The time I spent in Tanzania was valuable, and I learned a lot. I will certainly miss the friends I got and the adventures I woke up to every day. I am very grateful to all the people who helped me with various things, participated in my study, and made my stay a blessed one. In very few places, I have received so much love.

Nevertheless, there are numerous issues in Tanzania that are problematic and hinder its development. The country has been dependent on foreign aid for decades, and this without showing much progress. One might ask if the external support impede on the government responsibility to provide political goods to its population. Is aid a solution for development, and if so, how should the external support be carried out?DSC02923

The government aspires for Tanzania to be a middle-income country in the near future. And indeed, it is a country with resources, and the economic growth has been high for several years, with an annual growth rate around 7 %. However, the majority of the population is still living in poverty, with a huge gap between the rich and the poor. Gender equality is far from reached. Women are still doing most of the work in the household, they are often discouraged to make their voices heard, and they might not have the right to decide over their own bodies. Forced marriages, early pregnancies, and sexual violence occur. Domestic violence is more a rule than an exception. In many schools, children are beaten by their teachers if they don’t behave in a disciplined way. The pupils might be punished if they fail an exam, have a sexual relationship, or are late to school because they had to work in the morning.

Nonetheless, most Tanzanians I met were proud of their reputation of being so peaceful. But from my view-point, it seems to be a long way to go before peace has occurred at all levels in their society.

IMG_2930A sustainable development must include empowerment of the disadvantaged.  All people should have the right to a decent life, without discrimination or violence. I went to Tanzania with the idea that education is the ground for development. But education is not enough. It must be qualitative, based on individual needs, and it should provide for life-long learning. To have a school system in which the students are worried about not being able to pay the school fees, are afraid to be beaten, and are not allowed to ask questions or think critically, and where boys and girls do not have the same chance to finish their studies, it might be very difficult to develop to a middle-income country. The change must come from within. Economic development is not the same as sustainable development. Education is a step, but it must be carried out in a way that provides for the people to be able to build the country. If aid should be a way to reach these goals, it must help people to help themselves towards a sustainable development. I hope that people will get the chance to understand their capacity to change their lives and to improve their conditions. It’s time that Human Rights become global norms.

 

The blog was originally published on: http://fufkorrespondenterna.com/2015/07/13/tanzania-a-last-reflection/

A Second Chance to Education

Imagine that you are a teenager in Tanzania. You come from a village. Every day you go to school, and you love studying. You study hard because you know that your parents are poor and they struggle to afford paying your school fees. But you are planning to do well, and find a job. Your future seems bright.DSC02073

Then suddenly, you see that your body is changing. You hope that everything will be alright. But you know that it will not. You have become pregnant. What is going to happen next will possibly destroy your dreams.

Soon you are suspended from school in accordance with Tanzanian law. Your friends laugh at you and wonder how you could be so stupid. Your family is angry and disappointed. Maybe you are not welcome in their house any longer. The boy you thought was in love with you says that he does not like you any longer, and he denies that it is his child.

Instead, he continues with his studies. But you cannot: because you are a girl, and you have become pregnant. You are on your own now. The future you thought lied in front of you seems to be very far away…

This is a common situation for young girls and women in Tanzania.DSC02069 If one gets pregnant in primary or secondary education, she is forced out from school, and the community disregards her. Some might get support from their families or relatives. Others are completely rejected. They have lost their chance to education, and the way they thought would lead to a better life.

So, one might ask if this practice in accordance with the International Human Right Charter that claims that every child has the right to education? Or if it follows the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that will promote equal and qualitative education for all, at all levels of education? The answer is: No. And still, it is happening on a daily basis in Tanzania.

Moreover, this issue is well-known. And for some of these young women, there might be a second chance to education. One program that I believe gives the opportunity is the Mama-course program provided at six Folk Development Colleges in Tanzania. I have visited three of those, and I was surprised by the change they seem to bring.

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Firstly, the Mama-course program gives the young mothers free education for two years. They live on the college with their child together with 14 other young mothers. They learn things such as entrepreneur skills, life skills and English, and they get vocational training, for example in cooking, farming, or electrical installation.

The positive effects of the two years program are prominent. The young mothers get more than education. They regain self-confidence. They see the possibility to become independent. They get respected by the community again. The parents are happy and they can help to support them with knowledge and skills. Their children become healthier at the college, and they learn new things in kindergarten and get friends during the program. The mama-course students now see the chance to get employed, start their own businesses, or (if getting enough capital) continue with secondary education.

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Still, as with many good programs in Tanzania, there are issues with the capital. Only 90 students every two years are able to enter the program, and currently there are problems with the funding. The mama-course students at Ilula FDC had to interrupt their studies after the Winter-break due to lack of finance. They, and their children, are still waiting for a chance to enter the program again.

I sincerely hope that the Mama-course program can expand and provide education to more of these young mothers who always should have a second chance to education. And I wish that the government will take actions to provide for a better future for those capable young women. Hawa wanawake vijana wanaweza! (These young women can!)

Just give them the chance that is every person’s right. The possibility and right to: Education.

The blog was originally publiced on: http://fufkorrespondenterna.com/2015/06/11/a-second-chance-to-education/