Destroying ‘boys don’t cry’, one tweet at a time

Being candid: Aangan has been working with boys in Govandi, Dharavi, Reay Road and Mumbai Central.  

Activists and experts working in the field of children’s mental health will participate in a conversation on Twitter on Wednesday to discuss the mental health of male children and the stigma associated with it due to the ‘boys don’t cry’ narrative that has been spun over the ages.

BoyTalk programme

The conversation will be curated by Aangan Trust, a non-governmental organisation that has been working with children’s issues across the country since 2002. It is a precursor to the official launch of Aangan’s BoyTalk programme, an initiative conceived two years ago to empower boys to have candid, vulnerable conversations with one another on gender, trauma, and healing.

“We saw the need for creating this curriculum because of the stories that the boys we work with were sharing with us,” said associate director Smita Dharmemar, who leads Aangan’s work in Mumbai.

She said, “They started to speak openly about the burdens they carried, given the amount of responsibility placed on them by gender norms that see boys as infallibly strong and incapable of vulnerability. That’s when our founder, Suparna Gupta, created the BoyTalk curriculum based on Promundo’s Program H curriculum.”

Program H is a curriculum that encourages critical reflection about rigid norms related to manhood and encourages transformation of stereotypical roles associated with gender developed by Promundo, an international organisation.

The panelists participating in the discussion include Harrish Iyer, human rights activist; Ravi Verma, regional director for the International Center for Research on Women Asia; Aaron Gouveia, activist in gender-neutral parenting; Nikhil Taneja, founder of Yuvaa; Mihir Parekh, convener of Bangalore Men’s #MeToo Meets; Sagar Galani, feminist blogger from Cornell; Manish Kumar, advisor at Center for Communications of Child Rights; Hakim Bellamy, spoken word poet from New Mexico; and Abhijeet Dipke, social media lead with the Aam Aadmi Party.

For the past two years, Aangan has been working with boys in areas such as Govandi, Dharavi, Reay Road and Mumbai Central through the BoyTalk curriculum, which aims at dismantling toxic masculinity.

World Mental Health Day

“We never really had a formal launch. The curriculum just developed and took off organically. As October 10 is World Mental Health Day, we wanted to launch the programme online and the Twitter conversation will be a prelude to it,” said Ratna Gill, head of government advocacy at Aangan.

As part of its effort to dispel the traditional notions of toxic masculinity, Aangan is also enlisting Twitter users in spreading the word. Twitterati is being requested to share graphics and tweets put out on Aangan’s official handle on October 10.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 10:01:29 PM |

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