From identifying pulses and cereals to cooking rice to even changing their children’s clothes – the men are becoming more hands on.
There’s a Bengaluru college offering courses specially for male students to teach them how to cook and share household responsibilities. Now, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write! For the first time, Samvada, an NGO that set up Baduku Community College, is organising a free workshop called Reserved For Men. The course aims to teach students of the college and other working men skills like cooking, taking care of elders and feeding children. The brains behind this brilliant idea is Murali Mohan Kati who is the principal of Baduku Community College.
A team of four faculty members have been taking these free sessions for men since September 22 and it will continue till November. Mandeep Kumar, a faculty member at the Baduku Community College says, “Samvada is an NGO that works towards sensitising youth towards various social issues. Baduku Community College was started in 2007 when the members of Samvada wanted to start a programme to address young people’s aspirations for meaningful livelihoods which can empower them socially and economically. Since then, we have been conducting workshops as a part of the students’ curriculum under various themes. One such theme is ‘Gender Nota’ where there are workshops on sustainability, equality and leadership qualities. Reserved For Men also comes under this nota.”
He adds, “Initially, when we started the project, we were a bit sceptical of how men will take to it. Every man might not like to cook food or share the emotional burden of women or even responsibilities at home. Ego comes in the way or they might think that people might speak ill of them. But everything is an experiment according to us. As we started exploring ways to convince men to attend the course and also the methods to teach them, we framed a curriculum and now, we go according to the modules assigned in the curriculum.”
Reserved For Men happens in two different phases — one workshop happens during weekends for working professionals, while the other is conducted only for college students in Bengaluru. The curriculum includes cooking skills, handling relationships with elders and children, and taking care of women during menstruation and pregnancy.
But living in a male-dominated world, one cannot expect only a positive response from men when it comes to gender sensitisation workshops. “Some believe that they don’t need to learn all these skills when there are women at home to look after daily chores and family members. They believe that men are better at handling the finances. We help them realise that caring for a family goes beyond earning money.” Despite the initial resistance, the faculty at the community college has observed a drastic change in the participants after the workshop. “Now, they come and tell us personally that women too are human beings and that men have to share the work at home. Whenever we finish teaching a particular module, we ask them to note down what they have learnt and also the changes that they observe. For instance, the previous module that we taught was cooking. The feedback was wonderful. There are many women who go to work and return home to cook for their families. Becoming more understanding, the men have started to share the cooking responsibility and this keeps a family happy.”
From identifying pulses and cereals to cooking rice to even changing their children’s clothes – the men are becoming more hands on. Going forward, they have requested to involve women in some of the workshops and sessions too. “Thoughts of gender bias and sexism not only exists in men, but in women too. It is essential to drive gender sensitisation in women as well,” says Mandeep.
First published by Deccan Chronicle on 31 Oct. 2018, under the title This Bengaluru Community college is running a workshop to teach men how to cook, share household chores