Placing Gender Equity in the Family Centre Stage: Use of 'Kala Jatha' Theatre
Publisher: Economic and Political Weekly, India
Publication Date: Apr 2003
Women's empowerment does not necessarily take place when incomes are generated, when livelihoods are enhanced or when groups are formed. This is because within families and households, hierarchies and structures do not alter. In fact, public interventions which result in new social activity or new avenues of income generation can actually accentuate tensions within households. It is at such times that supplementary initiatives are required. 'Gender Equity in the Family' is an experimental intervention from Andhra Pradesh, India which uses folk theatre to highlight traditional socio-cultural norms within the family. The performances do not blame the men or the women for gender inequality but show how both those who suffer from and those that perpetrate inequality are victims of social structure. The plays, skits, songs and accompanying workshops have been well-received by entire villages and opened up debate around husband and wife relationships, mother and daughter-in-law interactions and treatment of girl children. The intervention shows that in order to change the socio-cultural space of women in the home, other members of the household need to be involved with empowerment processes.