Haiyya’s campaign on women’s access to public spaces has caught its grip with two dynamic women, of two different age groups, and belonging to two different neighborhoods of Malviya Nagar. Manpreet is a homemaker bringing up two beautiful teenagers and Mansi is a 15 year old-school going girl. Despite the hinted variation here, both of them are powerful change-makers in their respective neighborhoods and are bent upon making public spaces freely accessible to all women; they ask “why does gender decide our access?” Both of them want to change this scenario by bringing their respective neighborhoods together on this issue and have joined hands with Haiyya to model community organizing for collective action and sustainable change. Read more about them and to support them on this journey of “people power change”, get in touch with us at email@example.com
“Safe and equal access to public spaces is not just my right, or my daughter’s, it’s everyone’s.” said Manpreet at a power packed action planning meeting. Manpreet has been associated with us for over a month now. She got to know about Haiyya from other community women who were using the same public park as her. Manpreet then encouraged her daughter, Surpreet, who is 15 years of age, to join our campaign. Manpreet willingly came forward and in a state of excitement and fervor in the vision of the campaign, enrolled her daughter for the set of workshops Haiyya was executing with the young community leaders. She herself enrolled for one of those workshops and has been associated with us ever since.
Manpreet strongly believes in collective power and how importance it is for neighbors, who live right next to each other and still don’t know each other, to come together to realize action around issues that need us and gender based violence definitely tops that chart for her. Having lived in Delhi all her life, and now raising two teenagers here, she has seen Delhi go from bad to worse for women.
Manpreet wants to live in a city where she doesn’t have to worry about the time she is stepping out, the clothes that she wears, the harassing gazes of men, the abusive catcalls and whistles her daughter is the bearer of on her way to tuitions and much more that comes in tow.
Haiyya has given her a direction to lead to that change for making our public spaces equally accessible and safer and she believes that collective action will realize that change for all of us. She was one of the community women who conceived the idea of action planning meetings where a group of women from two neighborhoods, DDA and Panchsheel Vihar, meet every Saturday to decide on community events to be undertaken to build community power. These meetings and her vigorous efforts in bringing the neighbors together is directed at dealing with the issue of gender based violence and the resulting lack of equal access to public spaces. Manpreet rides high on the importance of participatory democracy and wants to see neighborhoods moving forward on an accountable relationship with the local police to correct what is wrong, provide what is missing and ascertain equity which is irrespective of gender. More power to her!
“If there is heaven anywhere, bring it down here” said Mansi to the crowd gathered around her in the Malviya Nagar market, where this 15 year old with a bunch of ten more young leaders from her neighborhood, performed a street play (popularly known as nukkad nataks) on gender based violence. Mansi not only actively scripted the street play but also conducted the rehearsals, took care of the coordination with the other participants, managed the logistical aspects of their performance and together with her team ensured a successful event. This was her first ever initiative in her neighborhood and she has decided to not let her spirit waiver. She believes in the utmost importance of doing such events and bringing the community together to realize the urgency around the issue.
Mansi resonates with a lot of other youngsters in the community that “youth can power change” and she is already on that track with her friends to regularly organize dance workshops, street plays, awareness days and much more. She believes that these continuous efforts will bring the citizens closer to the system and allow the community to realize their true potential and the power of collective action in seeing the much needed change that women need to gain equal and uninhibited access to public spaces.
At a tender age of 15, Mansi herself realizes that she is constantly under scrutiny for what she is wearing, for what time she is headed out to play or for where is she going. She with the other active youngsters in the community wants to stir a change in the generic and restrictive mindset of the people and also reach out to the local police to work in tandem with them to ensure that they are able to access the public spaces around them freely. She is motivated to bring her community together on this issue and she strongly resonates with the idea that a collective community effort will be able to achieve this.
Zor Lagake Haiyya!