A world with gender equity
Every girl with agency
THEORY OF CHANGE
When the burden of safety is lifted, girls begin to explore their true abilities.
In January 2011, the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) Questionnaire reported that 24% of Indian men had committed sexual violence at some point during their lives.
Crime patterns have a definite social orientation. It is therefore important to break the social orientation to expect any change in the crime pattern.
Self-defence training takes embodied empowerment as its focus and purpose.
Unlike much safety advice which may limit women’s freedom, self-defence seeks to expand it.
We have come a long way. Or have we?
As Searles and Follansbee (1984) wrote,
Traditionally, women have been socialized to believe that they are the “weaker sex.” Females socialized into the conventional feminine role have been taught to be passive, dependent, emotional, helpless, inadequate, ladylike, inactive, and incapable of protecting themselves. In order to avoid being victimized, they have been encouraged to limit their mobility and to rely for protection on men—fathers, boyfriends, husbands, police officers—or other external agents such as large barking dogs or burglar alarms. The emphasis on being soft, gentle, and ladylike has further hampered women as it has discouraged them from developing their physical potential and from expressing anger or aggression in any active or physical way. Taught not to rely on themselves and discouraged from developing the capabilities to be able to do so, females have thus been trained to be good victims.
Self-defense training changes women’s interactional patterns with strangers, even when those interactions do not threaten violence. In this way, self-defence training also acts as a deterrent to gender based violence. Thus, effective self-defence training arms women with the skills to avoid, interrupt, and resist assault.
The personality constellation that occupies assertion, physicality, non-traditional gender role, and physical self-efficacy, is quite similar to that of an athlete (Blinde, Taub, & Han, 1994; Salminen, 1990; Wrisberg, Draper, & Everett, 1988). These traits are associated in varying degrees to rape resistance.
In order to defend the self, a woman must perceive herself as having value over and beyond that of an attacker. Women must first feel entitled to be safe and respected. This is a pre-requisite for effective self-defence.
Given the current statistics of Crime Against Women (CAW) in India, and the flawed social structure that enables it, it is the need of the hour for the society, along with the government, to take prompt and strong steps to ensure the safety of women, and girls. Self-defence training plays a significant role in putting the power where it must be, directly in the hands of the girl.
We think it is extremely important to equip our girls not just with self-defence but also with the ideology behind it, one that teaches courage, one that teaches to be self-reliant, one that teaches respect for one another and one which we see as true em’power’ment for our girls. To achieve this end, as opposed to other self-defence training programs, which teach few skills over a couple of hours, we use a long-term engagement program, using physical practice as a means to access the mind. Unlike life skills program which teach skills like resilience, confidence and courage, where the participant must ‘think’ before ‘doing’, we use a ‘do’ approach with the physical body that organically changes the ‘think’, without resistance.
If a girl has reason to believe she is strong, for example, she can do push-ups, she will believe she is strong.
MukkaMaar exists to ensure that girls can connect with something that allows her to feel strong, not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well.
We implement our programs through collaboration with government education departments, providing training to girls in 6th, 7th and 8th standards, as part of the school curriculum, during school hours, through 3 academic years; giving us enough time to bring significant change in the physical self, as well as attitudes.
We have a collaboration with MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) to deliver the program to all their 1100+ schools. MukkaMaar classes are held twice a week for every batch (50 girls), during school hours. The program is being availed by all girls, unlike optional hobby classes.
Parent-teacher meetings are organised on a quarterly basis and during crises. With every passing month, we hear incidents of rape, rape threats, abuse, assault from the girls and parents, and we use that as an opportunity to time our interventions.
We celebrate International Women’s day as an opportunity to bring together the entire MukkaMaar family, by means of competitions and performances by the girls, to encourage them and also provide a platform to showcase what they have learnt and how they ‘feel’ after the training.
Through Equity Labs, we train educators to create gender equitable classrooms and provide the MukkaMaar training to girls, enable the ecosystem.
Trainers – We scout for and nurture candidates who are state and national level medallists in any martial-art and train them to become role models who carry and further MukkaMaar values with them to the schools. The preliminary induction and training is a 1- month ‘Teacher Training’ program, based on self-defence techniques and ideology. Through drama-based activities, games, group discussions and debates, we encourage them to introspect and sensitise themselves towards the multi-layered problems they will be resolving by means of an essentially physical class. There’s a specific module for consequence handling too, where they are taught to efficiently address problems of girls in distress, and communicate, report them effectively to the core team. Our trainers are the backbone of MukkaMaar.
Seminars – We partner with a team of qualified counsellors and child psychologists (Open minds Open doors) who deliver modules specifically designed to address mild to severe issues through the academic year gently guiding the girls towards better understanding of their rights, and how to claim them.
Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)– Lack of awareness in this area is one of the biggest roadblocks in the development of girls and women. We try to nip this problem right at the start and are proud to say that girls walk up to our male instructors, telling them they have periods, and most of them also take part in the class even during periods. Our faculty for MHM have worked extensively in urban and rural India with women across age groups.
Parent Interventions– Our core team, program heads, and mentors interact with schools, parents and girls directly to put context to what the girls are taught in class, and to share an overall perspective of what MukkaMaar stands for, and how we can be approached for any problem that parents of girls want to address. We do this to ensure a strong sense of availability and connectedness to the cause.