‘Change The Social Behaviour Of People By Focusing On Children From Early Age’: Women Activists

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Nikhat Fatima & Juveria Farheen

NEW DELHI—Professor Neelam Sukhramani from the Department of Social Work in Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) has called on NGOs to effect a change in social behaviour of people by focusing on children right from an early age.

Participating in an online panel discussion on the theme of “Women NGOs: Opportunities and Challenges”, Prof. Sukhramani suggested that children should be encouraged to question social norms so that they might develop critical thinking.

The discussion was organized by the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (Women’s Wing) recently.

She also suggested that innovative and creative methods must be adopted to face the challenges. People must be taught to respect not just elders but also the freedom of other persons. “We should think about short term and long-term consequences of various problems like early marriage, dowry, spending a lot on arranging functions like marriage parties, etc.,” she appealed to the audience.

Executive Secretary of Ahmedabad-based Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pehal DR. Pankti Jog shared her experiences about Right to Information (RTI).  

“The more you work on sensitive issues the more challenges you will have to handle,” she said.

Another important point Dr. Jog highlighted was that “it is not enough to help the victims of any oppression but we must knock at the door of the conscience of oppressors so that they may stop oppression.”

Participating in the panel discussion, Flavia Agnes, Director and Co-Founder of NGO Majlis, said that they had lady lawyers who could deal with women issues like rape, domestic violence, etc. and women could feel comfortable to share their problems.

Another panellist Rubina Nafees Fatima, Director of Hyderabad-based  SAFA, an NGO working for socio-economic empowerment of women and education of girl children, said that SAFA intervened in the education system and was trying to provide education to the girl children from marginalised communities.

She also suggested that to improve the condition of government schools through donations with a view to ensuring that students of government schools also got better educational facilities.

Tabassum Naz, Jankalyan Shikshan Prashikshan Samiti, Pilibhit, said that her NGO dealt with the problems of the village people. “Field work is very challenging there as the people don’t co-operate easily and accept the changes only after motivation,” she said.

Dr. Sharnaz Muthu, treasurer of TWEET (The Women Education and Empowerment Trust), explained about various areas like entrepreneurship, health, education, and widow support, etc. where her NGO helped the women. Replying to a question, she clarified that TWEET did not undertake any long-term plan because the NGO had to work on the specified projects only.

Dr. Zarina PP, Treasurer of Kerala-based WINGS said her NGO worked among with professional women and the challenges faced by them, legal advice on their issues, maintaining balance between work and family, etc.  They have psychologists for guidance and help.

Zarina shared her experiences of collaborations with other people and other sectors to overcome the challenges her NGO went  through. She gave an example of counselling jail inmates through psychologists for their betterment.

Shakun Doundiyakhed, CIEDS Collective, Bangalore, talked about two important aspects of NGO: issues of leadership in an NGO and the acceptance of the fact that different people take on different roles. An NGO flourishes when it draws upon the skills of everybody. The key takeaway was that the role as an NGO is to monitor the government agencies and make them work properly. She also informed the audience that their NGO started with issues of violence against women; they do fact-finding studies on the various issues. She underlined the need to address the entire society, including youth and men to sort out the problems of various types.

Shaista Rafat, Member Advisory Committee JIH Ladies Wing,  presided over the discussion.

The discussion began with the recitation of the Holy Quran by Minal Kehkashan, followed by its translation by Mohsina Sachora. Fakhira Tabassum extended a warm welcome to all the esteemed speakers. The moderator Shayma S., Research Scholar at JNU and Sub-Editor of Aura, awomen’s e-magazine, set the conversation rolling in an efficient manner.

Arefa Parveen coordinated the programme. She also extended a vote of thanks to the panellists and the viewers.

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