USING PICTURES TO FACILIATE MARGINALISED WOMEN’S MONITORING OF PROGRESS ON BEIJING+25 PLATFORM FOR ACTION IN SOUTHERN INDIA: LESSONS FROM PILOT TESTING

Ranjani K Murthy, Vasantha R., Assumpta P., Gilbert Rodrigo and monitoring team, 2021

The grassroots NGO Gandhian Unit for Integrated Development Education (GUIDE)- a women’s rights organisation with vision of empowering women- received support from Women Fund Asia for facilitating a study on monitoring progress on Beijing+25 in two southern states Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The monitoring process was both desk/statistics based and based on marginalised women’s monitoring of progress on Beijing+25. 

Around 12 women leaders (including a person with disability and a transwoman) of grassroots NGOs and community-based women’s organisation from 12 districts took part in five discussions over google meet in 2021, as there were restrictions on travel.  The organisations included those working with Dalits, Adivasis, Christians, Muslims, differently abled and transgenders. Each meeting lasted for around one and a half hours, and was facilitated by the authors for pilot testing the questions for exploration along with other field volunteers of GUIDE. 

From 12 critical areas of concern of Beijing PFA, a total of 7 areas of concerns were prioritized (with two being combined during discussions), namely:

  • Poverty and economy together (Concern 1 and 6 in Beijing PFA)
  • Violence against women and human rights (Concern 4 and 9)
  • Training and education (Concern 2)
  • Health (Concern 3)
  • Environment (Concern 11)

 

Preliminary questions were evolved by the authors with other staff of GUIDE under each critical area in keeping with priorities listed in the Beijing PFA.  Photos were identified for exploring each question during pilot testing, which were modified subsequently based on feedback of the women leaders).  Using photos provoked discussions on changes, if any, in:

 

  • gender inequalities (e.g., access of young boys and girls to higher education),
  • gender norms (e.g., responsibility of care of children, ownership of land)
  • discriminatory practices (e.g., forced early marriage, forced labour of adolescent girls, employment opportunity, wages and violence against women and girl children)
  • day to day needs of women and girls of poor families (e.g., access to drinking water, sanitation, PDS, food and common resources)
  • access to government policies, legislation and schemes, and accountability therein (Mahatma National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, legal Aid, reproductive rights related and noon meals etc.)

 

 

The questions using the photos explored changes- positive and negative- in the five years preceding March, 2020 when the pandemic started in districts and states/provinces represented by the NGOs and community organisations in the google meet. 

 The pilot testing pointed to gaps in questions:

  •  the photos were seeing gender as binary, and needs to be changed to include transwomen and transmen.
  • questions on disability needed to be consciously asked, in addition to caste, class, religion, ethnicity, marital status, age and location which emerged automatically.
  • sensitive questions had to be explored carefully like control over sexuality, freedom form sexual harassment and access to safe-abortion.
  • photos need to allow capturing distress situations like sale of land and migration due to poor agriculture.
  • Linkages between different areas of concern, like women’s occupational health also need to be added
  • Photos on women’s agency need to be added like women’s membership in trade unions and producer companies, to induce discussion on women’s agencies.

 

The plan is to carry out FGDs in 100 villages (with 20 villages from a selected district from a cluster of about 8 districts, thus working out to be 5 clusters, with the involvement of about 2000 women) on progress and challenges towards Beijing PFA and draft the report

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