NARI KI CHOUPAL

Nari Ki Choupal 

The concept of a choupal is a public space where men gather during their leisure time, to engage in discussions on various topics. This engagement with their peer group has played a vital role in their formulation of opinions, information exchange, creating networks beyond family and kin etc. In fact, men’s public engagement in rural areas is pivoted on this choupal.

Choupals have remained a male preserve. Women’s participation in the public domain has not been encouraged, and has consciously been thwarted in most places. This is also the case in Mewat, where purdah is practiced and women’s cultural constraints are severe.

A Nari Ki Choupal means literally a women’s choupal. CEQUIN has initiated Nari Ki Choupals in 10 villages, in the Mewat district. The purpose of organizing the Nari Ki Choupal is twofold. Firstly, to create the concept of a public forum for women. Social acceptability of these women breaching the ‘lakshman rekha’ of stepping out from the private to the public space needs to be established. Secondly, the ‘safe space’ that the choupal provides, helps to encourage women to come out of their shells and talk freely without any inhibitions. The conversation is free flowing and not agenda driven, with the main objective to make these women confident and articulate. In the initial choupals, CEQUIN staff have played the role of trainers and facilitators. This is required at this early stage, since the women have had no exposure and find it hard to engage effectively. CEQUIN hopes that as these choupals get institutionalized, the role of facilitators will become minimal.  

Nari ki choupals were conducted in 10 villages in the Mewat District.

Village

Date

Number of

participants

Badhas

25/08/ 2014

35

Khanpur Ghati

27/08/2014

27

Maroda 

29/08/2014

36

Mandikhera

09/09/2014

40

Dihana

10/09/2014

32

Saakras

11/09/2014

26

Akhera

15/09/2014

36

Adbar

16/09/2014

26

Nasir Bagh

17/09/2014

21

Aamka

24/09/2014

21


Impact and challenges of the Nari Ki Choupal:

The women had never encountered a forum like the NariKi Choupal before. They were expecting a one-sided interaction where they would be subjected to a lecture. However, they were taken aback when they realized that it was a forum for them to speak. Given that Mewati women seldom step out of their home to speak publicly, it was quite challenging to initiate them to talk. Their capacities are extremely low, due to lack of education, lack of self-esteem and no exposure. They however started opening up gradually.

A critical outcome of the Nari Ki Choupal project is the development of women’s leadership capacities. An ongoing activity of the project is to develop a consolidated resource kit for women. 


     
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