Perceptions about girls going outside the home or local market or earning for the family are still far from liberal in our patriarchal society and are often considered taboo in many communities. Therefore, it is essential to eliminate the prevailing prejudices regarding women and promote gender balance and equality in society.
A couple of years ago, the PPEPP-EU project introduced ‘Couple Training’ for selected members and their spouses to improve gender relations and practices through male engagement. As time progressed, such training proved highly effective and led to a larger platform as the project recently formed ‘Couple Forum’, one in each of its 124 branches in 12 districts.
This forum is an innovative awareness-raising initiative PPEPP-EU took to bring positive changes in the knowledge, behaviour and practice of both men and women on the prevailing gender culture in the society. With the forum, the members are expected to play a pivotal role in uplifting positive attitudes regarding establishing women’s social status and empowerment in their respective communities.
Each ‘Couple Forum’ comprises 12 to 15 couples or 24-30 members of PPEPP-EU, of which half the couples have received the previous Couple Training. During regular sessions under the forum, members are made aware of the issues below to help change their mentality and familial responsibilities and practices.
These topic-wise sensitisation sessions and the learning shared among the couples are expected to reduce gender discrimination in households and the larger community. These activities will also help increase men’s engagement- a critical step to ensure women’s empowerment in work, rest, recreation, asset ownership, decision-making and other spheres.
“My husband and family members now think positively about my engagement in income-generating activities. I believe if we can stand together through this forum, we can bring change in attitudes of more families in our community,” said Laily Begum, PPEPP-EU’s Couple Forum member from Bhelumia union in Bhola.