Q&A with Suniti Neogy of CARE India

Q&A with Suniti Neogy of CARE India

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Suniti, tell us about your job.

I've been working for CARE for more than 10 years. I focus on gender and health issues, and work with families, service providers, NGOs and the government – all at the same time!

Based on personal experiences, what do you think are the best ways to shape and improve attitudes about gender?

When CARE works only with women, we don't see much behavior change. But when we bring in their spouses and sensitize them to the issues, we find the men willing to learn and do their part. Over time, values change and the couple starts to respect each other, even becoming best friends. That's the most interesting part of my work.

Has the rape and murder in December affected your job?

It left us all numb. Women suffer from inequities, assault and oppression, but this case went beyond the norm and brought the masses together. I was in Delhi at the time and could see all of the candlelight vigils. Without knowing the people who were, I felt so close to them as we were all there for a cause.

In January, I held a workshop with school leaders on teen safety and gender sensitivity in Barabanki. The organizers planned to include only all-girl's schools. I asked they bring in boys' schools principals because boys must learn respect for the girls and women around them, if things are to change.

At the start of the day, we asked the principals to reflect on their lives and gender roles – and the pressures they've felt. When we hear these stories, it's not hard to imagine how frustrations can come out as violent behavior.

We encourage the principals to live as role models, and to create an environment of dignity and respect towards women when around children, especially boys.

At the end of the workshop, each participant wrote down one change they intend to bring about in their school. When we meet again in two months, we will hear their stories. Women suffer from inequities, assault and oppression, but this case went beyond the norm and brought the masses together.

Do you see hope for the future?

Yes, I do! Roles are changing. One father says, “Let the other men laugh at me for cooking and washing clothes. It's my house and my family. And why should my wife alone do all the things?” Best of all, he shows their children – the next generation – that he respects his wife and sees her as an equal.

Know the Facts:

  • In India, 2,000,000 girls and women die every year from violence and discrimination.
  • It is estimated that, worldwide, 1 in 5 women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.
  • CARE works with Indian women and men to foster attitude and behaviors to prevent gender-based violence.

© 2013 CARE India