UN Women in partnership with Manas Foundation and Delhi Transport Corporation launched the Barabari ki dagar, Surakshit Safar campaign on September 17, 2015 at the India Habitat Centre. The project aims at ensuring safe transport to the women by giving Gender Sensitization trainings to the 2000 home guards deployed in the DTC buses ferrying across the city. The idea is to make these marshals agents of change. The event was chaired by Ms. Kamla Bhasin (Jagori), Mr. Gopal Rai (Minister, Department of transport and Rural Development) Ms. Rebecca Tavares (UN Women representative for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka), Ms. Monica Kumar (Managing Trustee, Manas Foundation) and Mr. Gulshan Kumar (Marshal).
The event began with an introduction by Ms. Monica Kumar who represented Manas Foundation. The project has been initiated in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya incident of 2013, to bring about a change in the way people and women specifically view public transport and to change the general view of deterrence to acceptance. With this intent Gender sensitization training will be provided to the marshals and stickers with slogans on women equality written by Ms. Kamla will be put up on the buses.
The next session by Ms. Kamla Bhasin set the context in which the project came about. In the current state of affairs of penetrating patriarchy and discriminating social structure it is essential to start a conversation with all the stake holders and change the mindset of everyone. She congratulated Manas Foundation on the phenomenal work done in providing gender sensitization trainings to 85,000 auto drivers and many taxi drivers. The initiative taken will also reverse the effects of the 16th December gangrape that has resulted in a reduction of tourists visiting India by 35%. To bring about a lasting impact there should be efforts made not only by the Government but by public at large to ensure the ‘Right to Loiter’ of women. The policies proposed can only be useful if it is backed by people’s initiative. She ended her session with a quote ‘Hinsa tab mitegi, jab hamari soch badlegi’.
Rebecca Tavares discussed the broader agenda of the Development Goals that the entire world accedes to and make it their framework. With the Millenium Development Goals coming to a close and the world transitioning into Sustainable Development Goals there should be renewed thrust on women’s issues. The goals stress on creating a safe city for women and also to ensure safety of women in public environment. Various surveys conducted bring to light the fact that women feel most unsafe in public spaces, bus stops and railway stations. The project will have two-fold impact namely, to increase access to safe and reliable transport for women and to sensitize the marshals and change their attitude towards women. She concluded by congratulating the Government, Manas Foundation and the marshals.
The next session By Hon. Minister Gopal Rai began by congratulating the Manas Foundation, as their intervention has resulted in the change in the psychology and attitude of the drivers. Delhi is battling with three critical issues of Pollution, Safety and Congestion. Pollution and congestion can be dealt with when people increasingly start using public transport and this will only be possible if they feel safe while travelling in the public transportation. He highlighted the fact that law is not enough to bring a change but equal participation of society is essential as well.
Gulshan Kumar, one of the 2000 marshals that have been deployed on the DTC buses highlighted the fact that the society blames the women for any harassment that is perpetrated on them. He shared his experience that any violation of women’s rights also impacts the mental health of the women which further impacts the family and in turn the society. The role of the Marshals in this way is crucial as to shift the blame from the victim to the accused. The women should feel free to go out during late hours and wear whatever they wish to and this will be ensured by the Marshals. The Marshal’s duty will be to sort out any matter in the bus with people’s participation, to get a seat for the women traveler.
This was followed by a presentation by the Manas Foundation in which Ms. Monica and Ms. Rashmi highlighted the tremendous work done by the organization towards catering to mental health issues. They have worked with the auto drivers, taxi drivers and now will apply the same model to the bus drivers.
The Parivartan group presented an engaging street play on Sexual Harassment and showed the multiple manifestations. From voyeurism, hurling expletives, inappropriate touch to watching objectionable content women are subjected to multiple forms of violence. The group ended with a slogan ‘Naari ka adhikar hai hamari Zimedaari’.
The event ended with a vote of thanks by Anju Pandey, UN Women.
( Blogger : Yashi, Intern at the Development Division )
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