ENTERING WOMENíS WORLD THROUGH MENíS EYES:
USING PRA TO SENSITISE MEN TOWARDS WOMENíS ISSUES
This paper is a contribution to the MYRADA PRA-PALM Series from :
ENTERING WOMENíS WORLD THROUGH MENíS EYES
The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) is a Non-Governmental Organisationundertaking land and water conservation Projects in the rural areas of Surendranagar, Junagadh and Bharuch Districts of Gujarat, India.
Women Expressed - We Are Overburdened:
i) Our day starts even before the sun rises. It starts with animal care, householdwork, work in the fields, bring fuelwood and water, dehusking or depounding agricultural produce, etc.
ii) We work for 17-18 hours a day.As is obvious from the following information given by Jivi, Passiben, Jethiben, Ramiben, Hansaben, Rajiben and other women of villages Karamdi and Chingariya of Junagadh District.
A Day In A Womanís Life:
Information given by Taraben, Kamlaben, Meenaben and other women from villageJambar of Netrang, Bharuch District.
Women Analysed the Time Spent by them and Demanded Time Saving DevicesSuch As:
ii) Pressure Cookers
iii) Flour / Dal Mills
iv) Threshers, etc.
Men However Did Not Accept That:
Need Felt To Understand Menís Views Towards Womenís Issues - Hence This PRA - Using Judith Appletonís Method:
The first PRA was conducted in village Boripitha, Netrang. We straight away went to Gram Vikas Mandal (GVM) Secretaryís house. The GVM went and called the men. In about 30 minutes, 15 - 18 men gathered. After the initial introductions, the purpose of the meeting was explained. The method evolved by Judith Appleton for estimating the time used by women was explained.
Ramsinghbhai brought a stick and drew a box on the ground.
The men surrounding them agreed and Ramsinghbhai drew a broom in the first box. Since the picture was not clear,
Meena : Is there a way to show this picture clearly?
A young boy standing nearby ran into the house and brought wheat
Meena : How much time is spent cleaning?
The same young boy ran and brought a bundle of leaves. Ramsinghbhai divided the leaf into two parts and kept half of the leaf of the first box to indicate half an hour spent on cleaning the house. Then he drew a second box and made a picture of a pot indicating the water collected by women after cleaning the house.
Phoolsinghbhai continued putting the wheat flour on the picture to make it more visible. The men discussed among themselves and agreed upon putting three-fourth of a leaf indicating 45 minutes spent by women in water collection. The third box showed the grinding work done by women since there is no flour mill in the village. The fourth box showed a traditional chulah (hearth) and the men kept one leaf in the box to indicate one hour spent by women in cooking the morning meals.
Meena : What do they use while cooking? Is it fuelwood or dungcakes?
Dharamsinghbhai : Sometimes fuelwood and sometimes cow dung cakes.
Ramsinghbhai : Oh we forgot to mention the time spent by women in fuelwood collection.
They decided to put two boxes above the first box to indicate the time spent bywomen in taking care of animals i.e. giving water and fodder to animals as soon as they get up and go to the forest for fuelwood collection. Accordingly, the leaves were put into those boxes.
The men kept on adding more boxes after the fourth box and indicated various activities carried out by women during the day, i.e., carrying food to the fields,working in the fields for 3Ĺ hours, taking animals for grazing, cutting fodder for animals, collecting water, depounding/dehusking or grinding followed by cooking, serving food to family members and going to sleep.
At the end of the exercise, when men calculated the total number of hours it came outto be 19 hours.
Margabhai (asking me) : You mean to say women work for 19 hours a
The other men too agreed with
Margabhai and said, yes the women will fall ill if
Meena : So, what do you want to do now, you gave this information.
The men started reducing 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there. They seemed quite baffled. After finishing off, when they calculated the hours, they found that they could reduce only one hour.
And Then They Became Defensive:
Fatehsinghbhai : But their work is much softer, our work is much
All other men nodded their heads and said ĎWell not much labour is involved in cooking,washing, etc., these chores are much easier than oursí.
collection. What do you think would be happening to them when they go to the forest or when they cook food using fuelwood or cow dung cakes?
There was pin drop silence. I repeated the questions as I felt they had not understood them.
There was pin drop silence. I repeated the questions as I felt they had notunderstood them.
Meena : Just now you said that a woman spends two hours incollecting fuelwood, do you all agree?
Men : Yes.
Meena : She goes to the forest early morning and comes back with a bundle of wood, is that right?
Men : Yes.
Meena : Do you think bring wood is an easy task or not?
Ramsinghbhai : She has to walk a long distance, often barefoot. (silence)
Meena : Anything else?
Phoolsinghbhai : Even in summers, in heat she walks barefoot. My wife got boils on her foot once.
After a while,
Dharamsinghbhai : A lot of smoke goes into her body and eyes while cooking.Once I saw a gobar gas oven. No smoke comes out; very useful.
Men : No, very painful, a woman cannot get up for a number of days. We have to take her to the VAID (doctor) who takes out the bichchu (scorpion sting) from her skin. Till it is not taken out, it is very painful, she screams and cries.
Meena : And you said their work is softer, do you still maintain the same?
After a while,
Men : They do have hardships but our work is still harder.
Men came out with various problems such as standing in queues for getting water,getting into fights, walking long distances, especially when the borewell was out of order, going atleast 3-4 times in a day with 3 - 4 pots on the head, labourious task of pulling water from the well which affects their stomach. Bending while weeding affects their legs and stomach. Some insects such as bichchu (scorpion) or something similar that bite them, especially in the rainy season. The sickle sometimes cuts their hands while harvesting etc.
This PRA Which Started For Gathering Information Turned Out To Be ASensitisation Process.
As mentioned before, I went to this village to understand menís views about men. I never ever thought that the whole process would not only give the men perceptions, but would also take a lot of time to come out with these details, as the men were thinking about it for the first time. At the end of the exercise, men, though not all, seemed to realise and accept that a WOMANís WORK IS INDEED HARD WORK.
EXPERIENCES IN OTHER VILLAGES:
Similar experiences were gathered in a few other villages of Junagadh and BharuchDistricts. There too, men first became defensive, then with extensive probing realised that the womenís work is not as soft as they used to think.
PROBLEMS FACED IN CONDUCTING THESE PRAs:
These PRAs were conducted only in those villages where AKRSP (I) already has menísgroups; we call them Gram Vikas Mandals or Village Institutions and where AKRSP (I) has good rapport. So gathering men was not difficult. Had we tried to do the same exercise in some new village it would have been much more difficult.
However, we did face difficulty in terms of:
FOLLOW UP OF THE PRA:
These PRA exercises in themselves did not bring miraculous change in the menovernight. These had to be followed up with regular meetings, dialogues on women issues, augmenting their knowledge about improved technologies which could reduce drudgery and workload among women, need for forming separate women groups, and need for menís support to women groups, etc. These PRAs however, helped AKRSP (I) in taking the following decisions for integrating womenís groups with Gram Vikas Mandals. These are:
i) Men would accompany women groups in exposure trips to successful womenís organisations so that they could see and believe in womenís capabilities.
ii) Womenís groups would give special invitation to GVM members to talk about the functioning of the GVMs.
iii) Men would be urged to help women in maintenance of accounts and registers.
iv) Men would be motivated to accept women going out of the village for training and exposures and in managing their savings and income by themselves.
The menís groups have started accepting women as extension volunteers (local womentrained to take up the responsibility of extension work). They are encouraging women to become members of the GVM committee. The Secretary and President of the GVMs are helping women in accounting. The same men who were reluctant to have time saving devices are now asking for these. Joint exposure trips are helping women in getting the menís support or being less interfering in their affairs.
Based on the above experience, I can say that it should be possible to use PRAs tobring about greater sensitivity and understanding in the relationships between:
i) The Rich and the Poor.
ii) The Educated and the Uneducated.
iii) The Upper caste and Lower caste.
iv) The Employer and the Subordinate, etc.