Shadhika Shadhika

March 10, 2024 was a historic day for gender justice in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

The first Gender Fair in Varanasi

July 1, 2024

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March 10, 2024 was a historic day for gender justice in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

To commemorate the International Women’s Day and Savitribai Phule Parinirvana Day, Shadhika’s partners Asian Bridge India (ABI) and Grameen Punarnirman Santhan (GPS) organized Varanasi’s first ever Gender Fair.

For 15 years, Asian Bridge India has been dedicated to promoting gender equality and a violence-free society in Varanasi. The Gender Fair was another initiative aimed at challenging societal misconceptions. The Gender Fair was held at a location where ABI works closely with local communities and involved ABI staff members, volunteers from local colleges, selected local schools and community members to organize the event.

Through fun and thought-provoking activities that raised awareness on gender gaps in education and employment, skewed gender roles, unpaid domestic work, and gender-based violence, the organizers were able to engage over 500 men and boys, and over 600 women and girls as part of the fair. 

The fair was a huge success and extended well beyond the planned time frame of three hours to accommodate the interest from the participants. The environment was free of inhibitions, and participants challenged societal norms, acknowledging that such beliefs lead to inequality and violence. A lasting image from the event was that of women and girls playing a game of cricket enthusiastically, while men and boys competed in draping sarees and applying kajal and mehendi. Activities such as this provided women a space to engage in play which is otherwise difficult to access, and men an opportunity to explore the nuances of gender, sexuality, and masculinity.

The Gender Fair not only highlighted the importance of gender equality but also demonstrated the power of community engagement and the potential for societal change through innovative and inclusive events.

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