I had a chance to visit Savitri Bai Phule Mahila Mandal (SPMM) and its field during 17-18th March. This was my 2nd visit to SPMM. The 1st was in June 2010 when there was partners’ selection process for Samajdar Jodidar project. At that time I was not able to visit SPMMs field area.
My journey started in huge stress. I had to go for partnership assessment which was not a very pleasant task. There was a lot of preparation needed. I was a little tense. I got up early morning at 3am and my flight was at 6.25am. I had to report to the airport at 5.25 am. I planned to take a taxi at 4.45am. I needed 45 minutes to prepare myself but due to my tension, I miscalculated and got ready at 3.45am. Later I realised that my calculation was wrong and I was ready 45 minutes before time. At that time I was unable to do anything besides waiting for the taxi. I did not get call from the taxi service till 4.35am. I again called the taxi booking services and got a reply that my taxi was booked for 18th rather than 17th morning. Anyway the taxi company immediately arranged for the taxi.
My flight was on time and I landed in Aurangabad before the scheduled time. I reached SPMM office by 11am and immediately my meeting started with the head of the organisation, Facilitator and later, a meeting was held with the Animators. The organisation and its staff took this meeting very seriously.
The first opportunity to visit the villages of Beed came during the last evening when we were in the villages till nearly mid night. I visited 3 villages between 7.00-8.00pm, 8.30-9.30pm and the last meeting between 10.00-11.30pm. All these meetings went off very well. There were 10-25 group members present in each meeting. I was very impressed to hear of what the group members are doing and why they are taking these steps. Group members were very happy to meet us and share their changes and challenges.
I felt touched when a young member of the group shared that earlier his father was committing violence against his mother, which now had stopped after his intervention with the support of other peers. Group members spoke about their role in sharing responsibility of contraceptive use as well. Group members were reacting for ending early marriage, sexual harassment and eve teasing in public spaces.
I found that these changes and the crisis faced by members while challenging gender stereotypes and patriarchy have brought them closer. My best wishes to all these members who are involved in challenging patriarchy and contributing towards the making of a gender just society. Their efforts and commitment show that a ‘new world is possible.’
By Satish Kumar Singh, in Maharashtra during 17-18th March 2013