Self-assessment triggers conversation on gender roles

Let's go to Northeastern part of my country, India. A remote, beautiful village with paddy fields, surrounded by hills- Tinkonia Part one, Bongaigaon, Assam. This is the location of my story where we are working on immunization.

For the past three months our CNES team has been doing home visits in this community. On 5th June, we gathered different sub-groups in the community to discuss what is their dream for healthy children in the village.

Then next day on 6th June about 40 odd people- young boys, young girls, children and women discussed what would they do to achieve their dream. After raining for past many days, the weather was sunny men were busy working in the paddy fields. Therefore only two men were present in the discussion but plenty of young boys ranging from 16 years to about 21 years, the would be dads and some current Uncles to small children. We also had three teenage girls.

We asked the whole group- what would they do to achieve the dream for healthy children and to list out broadly the key actions. Each group came out with a list of practices.

Following this, we brought the different groups together to share their practices and do a self-assessment ie where they are currently in relation to their dream.

One dream of the village group was that all children in the village get full immunization. Who will ensure that? Women raised this concern- where are the fathers in immunization of their children.  Women insisted that fathers have a key role to play. A teenaged boy, Nandu, about 17 years old, got up to respond to the women.  Nandu’s argument was that why should men be involved in immunization. They are the breadwinners of the family and are out the whole day in the fields to earn for the family. As women remain at home, they can take the children for immunization dosage.  To this women responded that men have to share responsibility for health of their children. What happens if the mother is ill or away or unable to go to the hospital or health centre? The child will miss the vaccine dose. The young man smiled and agreed to what was being said by the woman and the discussion moved forward.

I feel as a facilitator that a common dream binds different sub-groups of people in a village/group/neighbourhood together. Then, people can honestly say what the current challenges are and how to overcome them to realize the dream. SALT is key throughout the community life competence process to create a safe space where people can have authentic conversation.  Through compassionate listening and deep appreciation, SALT, brings spirit to this learning cycle.

In a nutshell, self assessment and discussion around levels stimulates group reflection as people bring different perspectives. So conversation is more important than the LEVELS:-)




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