Even in today’s time, the identity of a woman is often formed as a mother, grandmother, or wife. Her talents and capabilities are measured by the food she cooks and how far the house is cleaned. So how do we see women as individuals, individuals with an identity, individuals with their talents, capabilities, desires, and aspirations? We never get time to sit and talk about what she likes and what makes her happy. Seldom do we move beyond questions like “Aaj khane mein kya banana hai” or “ye saman Kahan Rakhahai”.
Sanchetana has been working with women for a very long time. Their interaction and discussion include all women across the banner of class, caste, religion, social-economic division, educated, uneducated, etc. Some women join centres for short-term vocational courses, some come for health groups, and some as health leaders. Sanchetana has been connected to a thousand families. Its close association with women helped the team understand society and women better.
Many women have been part of the Sanchetana vocational training programme and Health Group. Initially, they can come as mothers or wives, but they leave as individuals, individuals with their own identities and independence. Sanchetana nourishes them with skills and creates a space where they can talk. Talk about her body, her feelings, emotions, well-being, desire, and fascination, and rediscover the identity that she had forgotten long ago. It never ceases to amaze the team how much untapped and limitless potential women possess; how quick-witted they are; how bold they are; and how bold their choices are. They are kind and strong at the same time; they’re self-sufficient; and they dream of the sky, mountains, and beaches. They are fighters and multitaskers. They have stories and histories of strength. They are fearless, they have opinions, and they want to talk about art, politics, and everything else. And some even want to challenge gender stereotypes.
During the interaction, team Sanchetana met one such 19-year-old, Modan Nargis, from Bombay Hotel (Narol), Ahmedabad, who is an inspiration to all. A second-year B.Com student from Gujarat University is quite quick-witted with a charismatic personality and fills the room with enthusiasm and excitement. She constantly pushes herself to be stronger and better every day and strives hard to bring her desires into reality and desires to learn everything. Initially, she joined Sanchetana Vocational Training Centre in 2016 for a computer course. She knew the basics already and had enough research about the scope of computer skills and the demand in the job market for it. She completed the course religiously. Later, she completed her desktop publication course (DTP), also from Sanchetana.
When Nargis also joined the Health Club, the discussions were very engaging with her presence. She motivated other girls to join and participate in the discussion. The Health Club made her happy as she could talk about sexual and reproductive health in the group that she couldn’t speak about anywhere else. She also joined the Non-Violent Communication (NVC) training organised by the team Sanchetana. The training helped her to learn more about herself. She was an active participant in various workshops and trainings organised by the team; she never missed any. In one such program, she got to know about driving licenses, and from there she was determined to learn to drive. It didn’t take her long to get the car driving lessons and get a license. She is also fascinated by the English language, and after considering the benefits of other vocational training programs, she enrolled in the English-speaking course at the Sanchetana Vocational Training Center. She worked hard and, till the end of the course, grasped all the grammar rules and she spoke quite fluently. This improved her confidence and communication skills.
Modan Nargis is now working as an English teacher at the vocational training centre in Sanchetana. She is independent and confident. Her father, Kadar Bhai and mother, Modan Rashida Banu, are proud of her, and her siblings see her as a role model. She always encourages girls to join the Sanchetana and she expresses her gratitude for the organisation.
“I felt that I had all the potential. All I needed was a push and a direction, and Sanchetana did that. I am happy that I am independent now and I have an identity. I am still looking forward to learning more from here, said Modan Nargis.”