Will the New Male Hero Please Stand Up?

10947244_422563931240010_5132917642879937700_nWhen a 10 year-old girl in Haryana, India can see that her community is in need of more male heroes to protect the safety, livelihood and rights of women and girls, something must be done.

In October, “The Hero Project” – a campaign that aims to prevent gender-based violence in India by challenging harmful gender stereotypes – launched the #ChangetheStory Contest. Hundreds of rural communities in Pune and Beed and slum communities in Bombay and Delhi watched a series of three documentaries about various forms of violence against women, shared their thoughts about them in lively conversations, and were then challenged to develop their own solutions to gender-based violence. In January, four of the 190 participating communities were awarded $1000 in seed money to implement their projects. Among the winning ideas: a strategy for tackling the drug abuse that is provoking violence in boys and men, and a plan to develop a playground reserved for girls.

Now the campaign has developed an online companion contest with the goal of reaching a wider network. The digital version of #ChangetheStory asks netizens to share their ideas about what the new male hero should look like, in the form of a painting, poem, short film, short story, illustration or other form of art. To see some of the fantastically creative submissions “The Hero Project” has received, visit the Facebook page.

One of the most poignant submissions came from a ten-year-old girl, who submitted her version of the new male hero – a policeman who is committed to protecting the women in his community even when that means standing up to his superiors.

If a young girl understands that policemen need to be the catalysts for change, it is time for her vision to be brought to life. With new global initiatives such as the HeforShe movement, we are seeing more and more campaigns that bring men and women together. The movement to create a safer world for girls and women cannot be led exclusively by women. Everyone needs to help. If a 10 year-old can #ChangetheStory, why can’t you?

To submit your idea for the New Male Hero and win a mobile film projector that allows you to create your own movie theater wherever you go, please visit http://theheroproject.in/

Film Inspires Indian Father to Send Daughters Back to School

A reflection on intergenerational organizing, in honor of AWID’s #ICommit Tweetathon!

revopts_3_Priyanka Mandal leads the Allhadi

A scene from Women of the World film “The Revolutionary Optimists”

When you ask many parents in Indian villages about education, they’ll tell you that it’s an investment – and beyond that, that it’s more valuable to invest in a son’s education than a daughter’s.  That’s what Bhagwat Thorat would have told you before he went to a community screening of the film Revolutionary Optimists. He had pulled each of his three daughters out of school when they reached puberty, fearful that if he waited too long to find them husbands they would have fewer prospects, that they would become victims to sexual violence, or if nothing else, that his investment would end up benefitting the husband’s family and not his own. Continue reading

Film about South Indian Poet Inspires Menstrual Health Movement Among Women & Men Alike

SALMA_Still_hires4

Salma – the film’s title character

Salma, a Women of the World series film chronicling the extraordinary story of South India’s most famous woman poet and the violence she endured as a young woman, has stirred an incredible response among villagers in Maharashtra, India. One female health worker in particular has seen remarkable changes in the community she serves. Continue reading

Rickshaw Puller Becomes Role Model to Parents across Bangladesh

 

Most poor families in Bangladesh who marry off their daughters before they turn 18 – the legal age of marriage for girls – say that poverty forces them to make the choice. They can’t afford to keep their girls in school or otherwise provide for them, so they withdraw them from school and find a man who can care for them.  The result, for most girls who marry early, is more poverty, as well as higher rates of maternal and infant mortality, and increased susceptibility to violence and disease.

But what happens when a poor family makes a different choice – to keep its girls in school rather than marry them off? Continue reading

Town of Runners

Long-distance running is a way of life in the Arsi region of Ethiopia. In a country well acquainted with poverty, famine and war, world-beating athletes are a source of intense pride. Many of the world’s greatest runners hail from Bekoji, a small remote town in the Southern Highlands. In the Beijing Olympics, runners from the town won all four golds in the long distance track events–more medals than most industrialised countries.

Town of Runners follows three children from Bekoji keen to follow in their heroes’ footsteps, as they move from school track to national competition and from childhood to adulthood. Set against the background of the seasonal rhythms of this farming region, and the impact of increased urbanization and globalization on agriculture the film shows rural young Africans striving to make their own future.

Hero Project Launches in India With Film About Real Life Heroes

The Hero Project, WGLG’s social change campaign in India, was created in the direct wake of the tragic gang-rape and murder of a young female medical student (affectionately called “Nirbhaya” – fearless one – in Indian media) on a New Delhi bus – a story that sparked outrage and action among communities all over India and across the globe. Encouraging young men and boys to take heroic actions against gender-based violence and discrimination in their own communities, The Hero Project was built to evoke personal reflection, a sense of responsibility, and a fresh perspective on masculinity. For those present at The Hero Project’s launch on December 16, 2013, exactly one year after “Nirbhaya’s” tragic assault, the room crackled with the urgency of these messages for young Indian men. Continue reading