Different local problems similar mindsets?
During the Amplify Team's research trip we found out that women and girls in India and Nepal have an immense curiosity about the reality of women in the US. This made us realize the importance of having a dialog amongst individuals from different backgrounds. Through this dialog we are able to compare and contrast mindsets and behavioral response around threats to women's and girls' safety so that we can identify patterns and opportunity areas to shift mindset and affect behavioral change that could have a global impact.
The importance of maintaining a diverse global conversation:
During our talk with the confident and outspoken group of girls from the
Bhaktapur Youth Group we asked them if they had any questions to ask the OpenIDEO community. They immediately asked the following questions:
1) Do women in other parts of the world confront sexual harrasment?
2) How do you defend yourselves?
Check out the first video in the gallery to hear the questions. To respond use the comment section and paste links with contributions.
These questions instigated a conversation between the research team and the young women, who were surprised to find out that women in the US are also victims of harassment and face threats to their safety. Members of the Amplify Team explained that harassment in public transportation wasn’t such a big issue in the US, however, women in the US still don’t feel safe walking alone in certain public spaces.
Reflecting on this conversation, I think of different occasions when riding the NYC subway I felt sexually harassed and kept silent. I also think about the
episode I witnessed in Delhi, when my colleague Marika was a victim of harassment in a Rickshaw. During all these episodes I, a Colombian raised woman, who lives in the US, and Marika, an American woman, both remained silent and did not confront the issue in the moment. Perhaps, in the US, women don’t experience the level of sexual harassment that women in Delhi and Nepal do. But it seems that even when some of us confront it we still abstain from addressing the issue in the moment. We heard many stories in India and Nepal when women kept silent, were silent witnesses or defended themselves by poking their agressors without calling attention to the issue. We – women who don't speak up when harassed in public – share a similar mindset of fearing confrontation and accepting harassment.
Can we link this type of response and behaviour to other threats to women's safety?
What are the causes and origins of this type of reaction?
Even though specific behaviours that affect women’s and girls’ safety aren’t universal, mindsets and response mechanisms can be. Starting a conversation amongst women from different backgrounds– geographical, economical, educational amongst others– it’s vital to compare and contrast how we respond and think about episodes that threaten women’s safety, create support and allow for us to identify patterns and behaviours that affect mindsets.
The girls from the Bhaktapur Youth Group didn't keep silent when harrased. I learned from their confidence and strenght. This is evidence of the potential for these conversations to have an inspirational and strenghtening effect on their participants.
Let’s keep the conversation going and start becoming aware, changing our behaviour and learning from each other.
This post is part of a series of interviews with the Bhaktapur Youth Group check the other posts here: