I am Prakash from Nawalparasi. I am a facilitator for the project ‘Change Starts at Home’.
The radio program ‘Samajhdari‘ (mutual understanding) produced by Equal Access is listened by 10 members (male) in my group every week. After listening to the program, the group discuss different issues and subject matter raised during the program. The discussion is mainly focused on violence against women, its types and its prevention as well as ways to work towards building a community that is violence free.
I have been facilitating these discussions since June and this experience has proved to be very rewarding. When I talk to my members they often tell me that they never used to involve their wife in any decisions and that they never talked with their spouses about themselves and their relationship. Taking part in this project has made us all realize that it is very important to talk to each other to have a good, solid relationship and has succeeded in building a habit of having open and honest discussions with each other and our spouses
This has brought a significant change in their relationship and they have noticed that their relationship is more stronger than what it used to be. They tell me that they find themselves in a much more happier home these days just through open communication and empathy. They also tell me that before their wives were not included in financial matters and they used to haggle with their wives for even a small amount of money which was given by the husbands. However, these days the husbands have come to the understanding that their wives are spending the money for household purposes and are trusting their wives more (with money).
These changes have occurred in the members due to the weekly discussion. I think that it has been a cascading effect among the group members. We (facilitators) learn different skills and knowledge during the training and after the training we go to our village to share what we have learnt with the members, which in turn enables them to make their relationship healthier and happier. Talking about norms and values related to gender, the members no longer believe that only women should do the house work and they should only be confined to their homes. Listening to the radio program and participating in the weekly discussion, the members are more aware about the norms and values in our society, which have been contributing towards the gender based violence and which need to be changed.
At the beginning when the program was just about to start it was challenging for me to form a group and make people in my community understand the importance and benefit of taking part in this program. Many were very reluctant and made excuses to attend the weekly session. But as the weeks passed and people became more aware about the program, I have been receiving many positive feedback from the group members as well as other community members. Many people outside the group come to me and tell me how much they like the program and its objective and ask me to allow them to attend the weekly session. Many also tell me that this program should have started many years ago and should include more than 10 people from an area.
Not just the members, I have found so many changes in myself as well. I am more confident these days and am not nervous about talking in front of people. Before I attended the training, I always thought that violence was only physical violence. However, now I am well aware that it has other forms and you can also violate someone without hurting them physically as well. I came to know about the work division among husband and wife. Additionally, no roles and responsibilities should be defined according to gender, this is something that came in to existence due to our deeply rooted patriarchal society and needs to be changed. The community members also seek me out these days, which they never used to do before. They see me as one of the people in the community who is working towards the betterment of the community and I am well regarded in my village now that I am a facilitator of ‘Change Starts at Home’ project. Things have also improved in my marital life. Me and my wife are more open with each other. We don’t divide any work based on our gender, I myself do a lot of housework. I am more transparent with my wife and share all my activities with her. My relationship with my family has improved a lot compared to before joining the program.
The group is also seen as a positive thing by the community members. Many community members are often found talking about the group members who used to walk separately before, but these days our couples are often seen walking together and doing things together. We have been receiving positive feedback from the community members about the group and these changes.