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Act to Prevent: A Sutradhar-Gendersense Collaboration

Written by Natasha Poonawalla-Mandke



Women’s Day was here and the media was sure to remind every woman to ‘celebrate the woman within’. Every media platform is most likely flooded with a list of successful women who have made it to the top. Ever wondered why it's a bigger deal than usual for a woman to climb the career ladder? Why are her achievements celebrated a tad bit more than her male counterparts? While men have their fare share of competition, financial responsibility and stress to deal with, women in India have an entire list of deterrents to add. Everyday, women still have to fight their battles against Gender bias, Gender discrimination, lack of family support and the most unfortunate of all - an unsafe work environment.


Every media platform is most likely flooded with a list of successful women who have made it to the top. Ever wondered why it's a bigger deal than usual for a woman to climb the career ladder?


At Sutradhar, we’ve had the good fortune to collaborate and work closely with a team of 3 women lawyers, who selflessly hope that someday, their work in the area of women safety and child protection, will no longer be needed in India. These three power women, Adv. Divya Chavan (co-founder), Deepika Panicker (co-founder) and Alisha Poonawalla (associate) together form, Gendersense.

Gendersense is a socio-legal consultancy dedicated to the cause of gender sensitivity and spreading legal awareness about anti-harassment and child protection laws. They provide training and solutions to small, medium and large-scale organisations and educational institutes in India, to help understand and apply recent Acts of Law like POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace) and POCSO (Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences). The relevance of these Acts in our country today, needs no explanation.


Sutradhar had the good fortune to collaborate and work closely with a team of 3 women lawyers, who selflessly hope that someday, their work in the area of women safety and child protection, will no longer be needed in India.

‘If you are an organisation employing more than ten employees, then it is mandatory to have an ICC (Internal Complaints Committee) to address issues of sexual harassment at the workplace. Many do not even know that this rule can apply to their own organisation.”, explained Adv. Divya Chavan, to our surprise! To sensitize audiences and emphasize the importance of following this compliance, Gendersense conducts interactive workshops on a variety of platforms – corporates, schools, colleges, associations. Very often they conduct these sessions for social organisations and government schools at very little or no cost.


Keeping the format of the sessions interactive – having Q & A sessions, discussing case studies etc. have made the technical and legal side of the subject easier to understand for their audience. However, the hesitancy to openly talk about sexual harassment and largely, the discomfort to say the unsaid part of it all, was still evident. To help ease the social stigma, Gendersense decided to leave the unsaid, unsaid. Instead, they decided to get innovative with their format and use the art of dance-drama to ‘say’, loud and clear, what needs to be heard.


This is where Sutradhar’s intent – to use art as a medium of social impact, met with the social intent of Gendersense. Based on real life scenarios, case studies and legal information provided by Gendersense, Team Sutradhar – a team of four Kathak dancers trained by Guru Maneesha Sathe – put together sensitively choreographed yet boldly honest dance-drama acts. An attempt was made to step into the minds of the victim and express emotions like anxiety, fear, anger, disgust which manifest in everyday incidents at work or school. These acts were then thoughtfully positioned in the flow and format of the legal workshop.


Sutradhar’s intent to use art as a medium of social impact, met with the social intent of Gendersense. Based on real life scenarios, case studies and legal information provided by Gendersense, Sutradhar put together sensitively choreographed yet boldly honest dance-drama acts.

This helped the male audience better understand the plight of a female victim while helping the female audiences feel expressed and aptly represented. It also brought to light underlying gender stereotypes and biases which otherwise go unnoticed in daily life. Most importantly, it moved audiences into a space of sensitivity rather than information-gathering. The impact, thus, was definitely at a deeper level.

And that is the magic of Art! The ability to strike that chord, touch that heart and speak that universal language that each one of us understand. The strength to unite its audience, solely on the basis of the emotion they share, the impact they feel.


It moved audiences into a space of sensitivity rather than information-gathering. The impact, thus, was definitely at a deeper level.And that is the magic of Art!

This journey of social impact through Art with Gendersense continues to be one of the most insightful and gratifying projects of Sutradhar. And what better way than Women’s Day, to celebrate this beautiful all-women collaboration! Here’s to more women standing up for women, more women standing up for themselves and more men standing up for women safety in India.




#womensday #gendersense #sutradhar #genderbias #genderequality #artforgood


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