“I used to follow the issues of child abuse, sexual harassment, rape and I observed that there were very rare activities to demolish the main causes behind these vices. It hit me hard while I was studying a course regarding gender, I came across a few things where I realised we should work on the cause rather than the remedy. And then I reached out to my friend and my seniors, and started building the team.”
It was Khadiza Tul Qubra Binte Ahsan, founder of WeMen View, telling the story of the stimulation which prompted her to build a voluntary social welfare organisation.
WeMen View is working against sexual harassment, putting the main focus on men/boys with the process of dismantling the reasons behind it. They try to uproot the base of toxic masculinity causing the vicious rape culture. To fulfill this purpose, they conduct workshops in schools where they try to teach children crucial issues.
WeMen View believes in equality and so they try to make the children believe in gender equality and make them realise that no gender shall be dehumanised. Furthermore, WeMen View believes that it is very important for a child to respect others’ opinion from a very early age and also, they must understand that it is always okay to say “NO”. One of their most important aspects of preaching surrounds good touch and bad touch; how a child will know that they have or have not been harassed sexually and where a person can and can not touch them.
Image: Good touch and bad touch being explained through posters
They also believe that It is a vital part for the children to understand and respect each other’s personal space. Apart from providing necessary knowledge about the above topics, they provide basic sessions of intervening techniques.
Image: The children are chanting NO as a practice for consent
Though the changes are slow, they have reached more than 1000 children through their workshops.
Apart from their organisational workshops, team WeMen View helped 50 families during the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides, they also partnered with ‘Alokito Shishu’ and ‘Gift for Good’ to raise funds to provide reliefs and sent food supplies to more than 350 families including indigenous people, sex workers, and transgender people.
Image: Providing food supplies to the indigenous people
After the vicious cyclone Amphan took place, WeMen View, under the ‘Project Ghor’, along with Footsteps and Alokito Shishu, raised funds for and rebuilt 12 houses and planned to do 50 more.
Image: Rebuilding houses under Project Ghor
The major obstacle that they faced to work for their cause was getting access to the schools due to the sensitive nature of the topics since the matters they were preaching were considered to be root taboos in a highly religious and patriarchal society. However, they never lost hope or the potential to work for their sole cause. They began to reach out to the school committees that they personally knew and apart from that, they also took help from the fellows of Teach for Bangladesh to organise the workshops.
On the other hand, as a voluntary organisation, WeMen View faced major hurdles continuously in seeking funding for the workshops. Despite the odds, they did not stop working for the cause.
Even after the struggles, they reached schools including Rayerbazar Government Primary School, Moneshwar Government Primary School, Gojomohol Government Primary School, Siddiq Miya Government Primary School, Ideal Muslim Government Primary School, Nayanagar Rafiq Government Primary School which are established in the remote areas like Kamrangirchar to Nayanagar.
In 2019, WeMen View won the “Best Volunteer Group Award” presented by the United Nations Volunteers Bangladesh, VSO Bangladesh and ActionAid Bangladesh. Following that, the WeMen View team was able to bring small grants, funds, and donations.
The August issue of TDA, Youth in Philanthropy, intends to honour those youth-led organisations which are working selflessly to bring about a change in the society.
Approached by Tasnim Zarin Adhira