MEN ARE CHANGING
Jharkhand - On entry into Khirda village in Jharkhand’s Ranchi district one of the first things that is visible is a declaration on a board nailed into a tree in the centre of the village. It is an unusual assertion by the men in the village.
“We men of Khirda village declare:
1.We will monitor services of the anganwadi, school and ration shop;
2.We will not commit violence against women and children and will oppose all forms of violence;
3. Boys and girls who have dropped out of school will be re‐enrolled;
4. The education of girls will not be stopped in the name of marriage;
5. Toilets will be constructed at the earliest and they will be made use of;
6. The health of pregnant women will be looked after and arrangements made for their proper food and nutrition. We will accompany them to health centres for checkups;
7. We will participate in the VHND and will take responsibility for immunisation of our children;
8. Spacing of at least three years between the first and second child after marriage will be ensured;
9. In our village boys will be married only after they are 21 and girls only after they are 18 years.”
Similar declarations can be seen in 30 villages in Ranchi, Bokaro and Gumla districts. Members of fathers and adolescent boys’ groups formed in every village are identifying issues of gender inequality and forms of discrimination and have started taking action against child marriage and violence against women. They are part of the project, ‘Enabling Men as Responsible Partners and Caring Fathers,’ being implemented in the state by CHSJ in partnership with Srijan Foundation, Sahayogini and Chhotanagpur Sanskritik Sangh. The groups’ animators (peer leaders) are being recognized as an emerging pool of local leaders with enhanced knowledge on gender, masculinities and sexualities.