MAVA- a men’s organization to reform our male dominated society by standing against violence on women
Ours is a predominantly male dominated society, where women still have to face violence from men. With the passage of time, things have changed a lot; yet gender based violence on women is still prevalent in our society. But now we can hope to witness some real changes in the age-old mindsets of men. Because, a Mumbai based organization called ‘MAVA’ or ‘Men Against Violence and Abuse’ has come up to directly intervene against violence on women in India.
Harish Sadani is the man behind MAVA, who was one of the 205 men who answered to an Indian newspaper advertisement posted by a Indian journalist that read – ‘Wanted: Men who believe that women are not for battering’. After a year of meetings with those like-minded people, Sadani decided to launch MAVA. Started in 1993, MAVA is a voluntary social organization and India’s first men’s organization to directly intervene against violence on women. For his initiatives, Harish Sadani has been accorded with many awards including the prestigious Maharashtra Foundation award in 2010, Karmaveer Puraskar award and also Muktaa Sanman Award from IBN.
As a man, I always felt uncomfortable when we were tagged as the perpetrators. I felt that I could get a mechanism in place that would work closely with men that this would help change their societal stereotypes. Men have always been viewed as the problem, but I think that it is necessary to involve them in the solution making process too, said Sadani.
MAVA is now working to create a movement to explore the role of men as ‘partners’ and ‘stakeholders’ in addressing the gender issues of our society, including the issues of women’s empowerment through cultural advocacy, direct intervention and youth education initiatives. Sadani firmly believes that gender based violence against women is a human rights issue and as well as a public health concern that has serious consequences on both physical and mental health of women. MAVA’s instigating works addresses these serious issues by creating a men’s movement that break down the masculinity. MAVA’s approach is totally isolated from the traditional methods to tackle gender based violence on women.
MAVA launched a new initiative called ‘Yuva Maitri’ or friendship among youths in 2006, in order to encourage young men to see women as friends and treat them equally, rather than as subordinates or as sex objects. Yuva Maitri chooses young people between the age group of 18-20 from colleges and rural communities, who have the leadership skills and creativity to become communicators. These trained communicators provide a safe platform for other men to comfortably share their thoughts, fears, dilemmas and concerns. They get new ideas on gender matters such as men and masculinity, sexual health, male-female relationships etc. Till date ‘Yuva Maitri’ has reached out to 20000 young men and 5000 young women through some interactive awareness sessions.
Now, many young men have easy communications with the girls in their colleges and that has brought an end to teasing and harassment on girls. Even, many young men have started sharing household works like – sweeping floor, washing clothes etc. which were traditionally considered as ‘women’s work’.