Knowledge Cafe, organised by Red Dot Foundation, aims at uncovering, analysing and discussing a wide range of issues that plague the society we live in. Furthermore, with the recent completion of the 2020 United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in mind, the Knowledge Cafe sessions were closely in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). The issue concerning gender, as covered by SDG 5: Gender equality, of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, was a central theme in many of the Knowledge Cafewebinars.
The ‘Knowledge Cafe’ webinar on the 7th of July was led by Jagruti Wandrekar who guided the discussion on gender issues and mental health. Being a member of SAAHAS, a free therapy group for people from the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, Jagruti explains the vulnerabilities of queer individuals who live in a society that encourages heteronormative culture and stigmatises individuals who break exceptionally rigid societal norms.
While Jagruti Wandrekar acknowledges that India sits in the middle of the scale on societal attitudes toward s queer individuals, she asserts that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of protecting individuals who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community. One of the suggestions put forward by the Jagruti was that a culture of acceptance and greater awareness about the conditions of LGBTQIA+ individuals and the spectrum, in general, must be created.
Queer Dalit Affirmative Psychotherapist, Ipsa James, attempted to shed light on toxic personalities resulting from problematic parenting during her Knowledge Cafewebinar held on the 14th of July. She emphasised on the deep consequences resulting from parents’ over-involvement or being missing from their child’s lives. She further emphasised that gender issues, such as toxic masculinity, are often an outcome of poor parenting.
Anti bride trafficking activist, Shafiq ur Rahman Khanshed some light on the Anti-Human trafficking movement in India, during his session which was held on the 21st July. In his discussion, Shafiq identified the historical context of trafficking in India. He also emphasised on a survivor specific approach when dealing with the issue of human trafficking which focuses on supporting and empowering victims of human trafficking.
With around fifteen to twenty participants attending each of the Knowledge Cafe sessions, the webinars enjoyed a high level of engagement and discussion. Furthermore, through these webinars, a greater awareness of the sustainable development goals and the global community’s resolve in achieving the 2030 goals, was created. The ‘Knowledge Cafe’ webinars I attended were highly informative and personally, provided me with a greater awareness on the various facets of mental and emotional health, and the support available to those suffering from such issues.
Author: Rian Alva
The views expressed are that of the writer.