Human Rights and the Role of Civil Society

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On 24th March 2022, One Future Collective hosted an IG Live on ‘Human Rights and the Role of Civil Society,’ moderated by Shefali from India Education Collective. She was joined by Lisa Majumdar, a part of Civicus, Megha, a researcher, and Vihaan, a senior campaign associate at Haiyya. The conversation provides unique insights into how human rights in India are increasingly under threat and civil society’s role in protecting them. 

The conversation started with the proposal to implement a state-wide legal framework to ensure journalists’ safety across the nation. Megha pointed out that the freedom of the press in India is threatened, and journalists often face violence from the state and the police. She noticed how journalists who did not condone the government openly were the safest; otherwise, they faced state-sanctioned violence. She noted how it was essential to look at the Civil Protection Act and the ethics of the IT rules and guidelines. Lisa added that the state should and needs to protect its journalists and have clear policies to ensure that all data remains encrypted. 

The conversation then turned to how the Covid-19 pandemic saw an interaction between technology and civil society and how that should be acknowledged using the framework of human rights. Vihaan talked about the challenges that Haiiya faced and their learnings while helping DBA and trans or queer youth during the pandemic. Vihaan mentioned how the young people were not just affected at the individual level but also collectively, as their right to life and access to shelter and food was hampered. People could not move out of their houses, labourers could not return to their homes, and sex workers also stopped earning. It was the state’s responsibility to protect people’s rights and care for their needs during such times.

However, it failed to provide for its citizens adequately, so civil society had to step in. The social welfare schemes launched by the state were not sufficient and inaccessible to most people it targeted due to lack of documentation. Vihaan further mentioned that while Haiyya does not generally provide needs-based services, it felt the need to intervene in domestic violence or abuse cases. Young women and transpeople’s sexual rights and health rights were specifically affected, as transpeople could not access hormones that were gender-affirming and life-saving.

The conversation then turned to how the state has suspended the FCRA license of many voluntary organizations and NGOs and how these organizations can move forward and cope in such a situation. Lisa spoke of the crucial nature of foreign funding and global operations management in such a case and the need for these organizations to maintain a functioning democracy. Megha also emphasized the importance of awareness-raising while challenging the positive image that the government maintains on a global level instead of providing state support. The civil society also took up collective responsibility and provided continuous support to challenge structural oppression, build awareness, and advocate for the rights of marginalized communities during the pandemic. 

Towards the end, Lisa talked about how Civicus uses quantitative data and qualitative reports, and information from around the world to prepare holistic reports about governments worldwide. Megha stressed the need for police reform as the police often perpetuated violence on behalf of the state and harassed civil society organizations or journalists. She pointed out how policing became harsher during civil society protests with UAPA and Section 144. Lisa concluded the discussion by stressing the need for a more fundamental change in society to strengthen the protection of human rights.

Watch the full Instagram Live here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CbfSyQtONSb/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y= 

I want to be free, but patriarchy and capitalism tether me!

Pride with OFC, 2022

Who decides what queerness looks like?

Who decides what queerness looks like?

Youth Rights and Leadership

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On the 24th of February, we at One Future Collective hosted an IG Live on ‘Youth Rights and Leadership’. With Deepa as the moderator, a former One Future Fellow and we were joined by Deepa Pawar, the founder of Anubhuti and Sukannyaa, a member of Pravah.

 

Deepa started by asking what the speakers’ definitions of youth rights were. Deepa Pawar takes the examples of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Savitribai Phule who were young themselves when they started working on creating a change. This shows how important youth rights are in a country like India. We must all help in building a stronger bridge to connect the effort of the youth in taking part in the revolution and we must be inclusive in this effort. According to her, youth rights are no separate component of the values of India’s constitution. However, they do require more attention to the process and implementation. 

 

Sukannyaa believes the stage between adolescence and adulthood is a very important and eye-opening phase where one experiences many aspects of life like work, justice, and equality in a different light. Each person experiences unique challenges and difficulties in this journey. We must highlight these challenges and bring them into mainstream conversations.

 

Pravah does this on three levels: First is by changing the way we view the youth and avoiding stereotypes where we look down on them or view them through a tokenistic lens of pawns needed to create a better economy. This in turn avoids creating a barrier and empowers the youth. The second is by creating spaces for the youth to represent their communities when it comes to conversations around rights and equality and doing this through an intersectional perspective. The third is by questioning ourselves on how we can create safe environments for the youth to work and build on their strengths and meet people of different identities. 

 

Deepa then goes on to question how Anubhuti has made sure to address intersectionality in its efforts. Deepa Pawar highlights how there is a common misconception that the youth are not interested in politics in general. Engagement in politics must be created in educational institutions, but when these institutions shun students from understanding, critiquing, and participating in politics it creates a bad environment. These spaces must promote political literacy and not political hatred. Anubhuti works as a mirror to show the youth what they can do. The youth have their own lived experiences to reflect on and we try our best to question the root causes of these experiences. Fortunately, the marginalized communities of our country, be it nomadic tribes, the trans community, or working women are naturally equipped to understand the issues that all Anubhuti has to do as an organization, is to facilitate. Deepa reminisces about this process and says it’s been a two-way street. Anubhuti has learned just as much as it has taught while working with the young.

 

The statement ‘personal is political’ rings true to covering intersectionality. For instance, being a woman, you naturally are drawn to and affected by women’s rights. Anubhuti designs its approach underlining these specific identities as these identities dictate the strengths, challenges, and living situations of these individuals.

 

Deepa then goes on to ask Sukannyaa how Pravah has made efforts to create a safe environment for young people to grow. Sukannya addresses how Pravah tries to create these spaces without setting prior expectations that are often a burden and allows the youth to create and explore on their own. Our internship programs also see people from different parts of India such as Jammu and Kashmir and the south as well interacting among themselves. This not only is educative but also increases empathy for those different from us.

 

Deepa Pawar says that creating these spaces is not easy, especially in movements. Asking questions has become more and more dangerous over time. We are indoctrinated with the ideology that marginalized communities do not and should not be given the capacity to participate in political scenarios. Fighting such social biases is no easy feat. When speaking about these safe spaces, Deepa wishes to highlight the need for a support system to rescue the youth when they are caught in the realms of authority for standing up.

 

The panel concluded the talk by lending their idea of the concept ‘Young Feminist People Power’. Sukkannyaa believes this concept stretches itself to all forms of representation. Deepa Pawar then questions why we still don’t recognize the feminist movements native to India far before the movement was given a name in the west. Savitribai Phule and Fatima are perhaps the best examples of Young Feminist People Power narratives. She wishes for us to resurface these narratives, learn from the past experiences of the women that have helped create a change with integrity and create our own stories as we go on.

 

You can watch the full video here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CaXYZX9pnn2/

I want to be free, but patriarchy and capitalism tether me!

Pride with OFC, 2022

Who decides what queerness looks like?

Who decides what queerness looks like?

Gender Justice in the Pandemic

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On 22nd  February 2022, One Future Collective hosted an IG Live on the theme of ‘Gender Justice in the Pandemic’ hosted by Advocate Sonali Shelar. She was joined by Kashina, assistant director at Prerana who heads the Anti-Trafficking Interventions; Kanksshi who is the founder of NETRI foundation; and Ayushi who is the co-founder of The Gender Lab. The conversation provides unique insights into how different on-ground activists and workers who deal with the issue of gender closely faced the challenge of the pandemic. 

 

The conversation started with a critical look at the economy of India and how it has one of the worst gender gaps in economic participation and opportunity according to a study by the World Economic Forum. To that, Kanksshi added that women’s participation in the economic and political sphere has always been low in India. She also pointed out how most quantitative studies miss the perspective of counting per capita income and do not account for women’s work that is not in the organized, formal sector. She raised questions about how India could have the aspirational idea of becoming a $5 trillion economy when 50% of its population is not considered to be working. She also added that most of these statistical measures and data did not account for irregular or seasonal work or work which was disrupted due to maternal or health factors. 

 

Ayushi added that during the pandemic, the distinction between men and women became more pronounced regarding who goes to work and who stays at home. Women had to engage in increased unpaid care work during this time. Even outside their homes, they had to work as ASHA workers in a gendered role. She mentioned that there is a need to incentivize women to work rather than simply creating jobs – the entire mindset surrounding women and work had to be changed.  

 

Kashina, speaking from her own experience at Prerna, spoke of the number of families in Maharashtra who lost a male member due to Covid-19. As a result, the women of the families were forced to enter the job market and were desperate enough to join any job to sustain their families. Thus, they required upskilling and adequate training to become employable rather than relying on the monthly assistance scheme by the government. She mentioned how the process for procuring the financial assistance was long-drawn and not sustainable in the long run. 

 

The conversation then turned to how women’s participation in governance processes (such as in the Panchayat) can create a difference in their lives. Ayushi spoke about how the community or the school should create a space for adolescent girls to allow them to place their opinion to bring change. Providing these girls with a platform and allowing them to exercise leadership can counter harmful patriarchal narratives about how their voices don’t matter. Kanksshi added on to that citing a study where communities with women-led MLAs had a better administrative experience. She spoke of women MLAs from Bihar and Telangana who had a strong system to help the people from their constituency during the pandemic. These MLAs physically ensured that rations were sent out and that the ration kits also had sanitary napkins in them – a necessity that is often forgotten. 

 

The next topic of the conversation was the effect of the pandemic on young girls’ and women’s lives in the context of human trafficking. Kashina spoke of how human trafficking for sexual exploitation is a disguised action with intergenerational support. During the pandemic, the families living in margins became even more vulnerable and the number of child marriages increased. The children who were rehabilitated became vulnerable again and there was also a stark lack of data. 

 

Then, the conversation turned to how The Gender Lab has been coming up with creative solutions to help young girls even as the schools were shut. Ayushi emphasized that listening to the invisible voices was important for figuring out the solution. Many of the young girls had mental health concerns, fear of child marriage, and abuse or violence. A lot of girls also left school to attend unpaid care work at home as they were also worried about the financial situation of their household. Ayushi mentioned how The Gender Lab focused on preventive work rather than immediate response work. They created a workbook for the girls named ‘My Safe Space’ through which they could feel that they are cared for and should not accept reality as it is. Kanksshi stressed that policy-makers must hear the voices of young girls too to make a more inclusive policy that benefits them. 

 

The conversation ended with a short discussion on the ongoing judgments about marital rape and the participants hoped that the One-Stop Centre scheme would become powerful enough to help women quickly. They also stressed the importance of increasing awareness about laws, policies, and programs, especially among marginalized women.

I want to be free, but patriarchy and capitalism tether me!

Pride with OFC, 2022

Who decides what queerness looks like?

Who decides what queerness looks like?