Through our work we have been exploring the interconnection between gender and media, producing content based on sustained dialogue and conversations around multiple notions of gender. Observing and understanding how people survive, resist, tell their stories in everyday life. Being involved in creating content over a period of time has made us sensitive and aware of the silences and non-linearity of stories.
Gender and Community Radio
Maraa operationalised the first ten community radio stations in the country in 2008. Since then we have been training and mentoring community radio practitioners, specifically young women from rural and peri-urban contexts on producing programs on various dimensions of gender and sexuality. These issues emerged through research in the local contexts within which these radio stations are situated. These practitioners have produced over 400 programs on bodily changes, puberty and myths around menstruation, gender stereotypes and roles, sexual harassment and violence (including the first series on radio in the country on marital rape), themes of love, violence and pressure for adolescent boys and girls and sexual and reproductive health. Many of these stations are located in areas which are culturally conservative, and this was the first time that these issues were articulated and expressed openly. It led to opening up of discussions and exchange of ideas on radio and in the community during narrowcasting. Whilst remaining sensitive to women’s experiences, we have made a conscious effort to represent and engage with men, as a way of understanding masculinity as an equally powerful and damaging construct.
In 2016, we experimented with a blended media approach, linking programs produced on community radio stations, with an IVRS infoline run by CREA (New Delhi). The intent of the national infoline (Kahi Ankahi Baatein) is to disseminate information on sexual and reproductive health and rights to youth in the country. Contextual programs produced by the community radio stations, for the infoline, along with the interactive channel Sawaal-Jawaab, has led to an increase in the number of calls on the infoline.
Participatory content production towards prevention of Sexual Violence:
In collaboration with Jan Sahas, a civil society organization based in Madhya Pradesh, we worked towards prevention of sexual violence with adolescent boys and girls in three districts in the state. During the process we worked with adolescents to produce audio content from their everyday reality. We did research and needs assessment to understand the socio-cultural-political environment that adolescents inhabit. We facilitated gender awareness and storytelling workshops creating a safe space for adolescents to share their experiences and record and produce their own stories. It enabled an environment for adolescent girls, especially, to share their experience of sexual violence at home, school and public space and build solidarity with other girls who have had similar experience in the same environment. We hope this will help in building a network of adolescents and create awareness on sexual health and violence and also create safe spaces of interaction and try and influence attitudes and beliefs around gendered roles, stereotypes, violence and love.
Radio In A Purse:
In late 2017, the #MeToo movement became a global reckoning for everyday experiences of sexual harassment and injustice towards survivors. Simultaneously, in India, ‘The List’ of alleged sexual predators in academia drove difficult conversations on students politics, power structures within campus and sexuality within campus spaces. Radio In A Purse (RIP) was intended as a response, to go beyond the whistle blowing and address complex issues of harassment and discrimination on campus, taking into account the socio-political factors and the structures on which institutions are built. What is clear is the environment of silence, fear, shame, risk, scrutiny and frustration on campuses across India. RIP is a platform for students to voice their experiences, concerns and confusions around gender, sexuality and sexual harassment – without fear or judgment in collaboration with student associations and unions in Bangalore.
Through RIP, we have:
-Archived experiences of sexual harassment through listening rooms and recording sessions/ Students listen and express their own stories through audio or writing. They are published anonymously and with consent from the student.
-Conducted gender sensitization workshops that are usually missing from campus cultures or are ineffective despite being mandated by the UGC. Radio in a Purse, uses the arts based approaches like storytelling, games & walks to facilitate conversations around sexual harassment with all genders.
-Organised Public Space Events like film screenings, performances, audio walks and listening rooms around gender and sexuality towards creating a safe space for students to share and discuss experiences of harassment on campus and in public space.
-Encouraged students to write personal essays, articles, responses and book recommendations are published on the Radio in a Purse blog. Further, we are in the process of ensuring that diverse student voices are represented in mainstream media.
As part of this work, we have also produced various public space interventions to create further awareness on the issue and engage with diverse publics. One such intervention is a multi-media walk we have designed, to create a space of provocation and discussion around experiences of sexual harrassment.
To know more: https://radioinapurse.wixsite.com/radioinapurse/listen