An Editathon for social change

Prajnya and Red Elephant foundation are conducting the ongoing campaign gender violence.

Published: 27th November 2016 10:48 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th November 2016 03:48 AM   |  A+A-

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(Top — From left) Archana Venkatesh, Archanaa Seker, Kirthi Jayakumar, Ragamalika; (below) Snakes n Ladder peace board game

Express News Service

How about learning some lessons on social issues through our classic Snakes n Ladders game? Well, here are a few ladies from Prajnya and Red Elephant foundation who are conducting the ongoing campaign against gender violence

CHENNAI: Prajnya, a Chennai-based trust that works in areas of peace, justice and security, has started their annual 16-day campaign against gender violence, highlighting various issues endured by women. Kick-starting their campaign during the weekend, most of the events are aimed at addressing the lack of representation, sexual harassment, women’s safety, and gender equality.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that has its origins from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. The dates, November 25 — December 10, include significant days such as International Women Human Rights Defenders Day (November 29), World AIDS Day (December 1) and Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre (December 6).

Imbibing innovating methods in their campaign this time, Prajnya along with Red Elephant Foundation held an ‘Editathon’ this time to edit and create pages of several women activists from the south of India in Wikipedia. For the uninitiated, an Editathon is essentially when a group of people unite for a scheduled time (sometimes unscheduled, depending on the topic) and try to improve Wikipedia’s content as much as possible based on their information and research. While the concept isn’t new, the number of women in Wikipedia articles is low compared to that of men.

“There are so many amazing women who work tirelessly for many causes; yet a lot of their work goes unnoticed. About 15% of the real articles on Wikipedia are on women, the rest 85% are on men and their achievements. And especially when you look at activists, many from Tamil Nadu go unnoticed,” says Kirthi Jayakumar of Red Elephant Foundation.

In a bid to feminise this, the Editathon devised a comprehensive list of organisations that work on gender violence and issues as well as that of women who are relentlessly dedicated to the causes. Around 40 each in the lists, many of the women are known faces in the field, such as freedom fighter and social worker Durgabai Deshmukh, Rani Annadurai, theatre personality and teacher Mangai Arasu and more. “There is very little out there about local organisations. We talk about digital India or access yet a lot of them have their own webpages or a well-functioning archive. Much of the list includes activists who have a large internet presence, where they focus more on the social change rather than the social cause,” says Swarna Rajagopalan, political scientist and the brainchild behind Prajnya Trust.

With the Editathon given two time slots — a morning and afternoon session — participants were found rapidly typing away for the pages. While it’s no easy task to gather enough information to meet Wikipedia’s protocols, a lot of the existing pages of women activists, however, were updated. The 16-day campaign against gender violence will go on until December 10, housing activities, workshops and events pertaining to the cause.

To know more about the events, visit: prajnya.in or their FB page

Climb a ladder to spread awareness

R emembered the last time you saw an Asian or a non-Caucasian person in the fun board game ‘Guess Who?’ Or how about when Snakes and Ladders taught you a lesson or two on consent? Working alongside Prajnya’s 16 day Campaign Against Gender Violence is Red Elephant Foundation, an initiative for peace and gender equality. Kirthi Jayakumar, a lawyer and an activist, and her team have developed an original method of addressing issues on gender violence, inequality, inclusion, and other social issues by reworking a range of familiar card and board games.
Kirthi chose to introduce these reworked games at the same time as it resonated well within the theme of the campaign. “A lot of children play these games. The point is to let children get sensitised to issues such as racism, privilege, safety, sexual orientation, and more,” says Kirthi. Melding fun and awareness at the same time, a lot of these games were reworked in a bid to create a space for discussions.
Developed by a team of five namely Sharda Vishwanathan, Akhila Jayaram, Elisa Gabelieri, and Rupande Mehta, the games were created using a user-friendly website called Canva, designed by Kirthi herself. The games include Pictionary with the four different categories Place, Object, Action, and All Play reworked to Person, Organisation, Action, and Difficult Word. Similarly, a game of Snakes and Ladder sheds light on gender equality and consent, teaching the player what’s fair and what isn’t. “We have also come up with smaller books or handouts written on sexual orientation, safe touch-unsafe touch, check your privileges among others. Currently they’re only available in our website where you’d have to print it out to play,” says Kirthi.

The games are available on the site: 16daysatref2016.redelephantfoundation.org

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