“If you wish to know how civilized a culture is, look at how they treat its women.”– Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan
Women and mother Earth have been worshipped across cultures and centuries. As the times turn and civilizations churn, the struggle for hegemony and dominance has led to the stifling of many voices. These are the voices of the marginalized genders as they are not adequately represented at the decision making tables. This results in their issues and sensitivities not being comprehensively addressed. Women despite constituting half of the worlds’ population, find themselves not being able to stand up against the injustice of the social order. With evolving gender identities coming into play and voicing their concerns, there is a necessity for empathy and safe spaces where diverse genders can communicate freely. This requires compassion, knowledge sharing and capacity building.
Thus Gender Justice becomes essential, a cause around which One Future Collective is centred.
Founded in 2017 by Vandita and her colleagues in Mumbai, the organization aims to give voice to marginalised genders including, but not limited to women and LGBTQIA+. It is a feminist, youth-led not-for-profit organization that promotes the cause of Feminism & Social Justice via community care and kindness. It advocates for Gender Justice, Mental Health and Feminist Leadership. They conduct comprehensive and in-depth workshops and training in corporate, educational institutions and indulge a plethora of stakeholders. It aims for nurturing radical kindness by activating empathy to address the root cause of stigma and stereotypes against females and LGBTQIA+ community. This is essential in contemporary times with emergent micro realities and personal beliefs shaping the identity of the individual in a hyper-connected world.
One Future Collective encompasses 3 main areas of work:
First is the Queer Resource Centre that provides safe and verified queer-friendly resources like doctors, educators, legal aid and mental health professionals. It’s a sad reality that despite their education and degrees, many professionals continue to harbour gendered stereotypes and discriminate against the members of the queer community. Thus an easily accessible resource is of great help for those in need. One Future Collective also sensitizes people and addresses the stigma and myths among groups like teachers, students, etc via workshops and training around queer rights to create empathetic future leaders.
Second is the FemJustice Legal Centre. It provides an alternate and compassionate way for victims of gender-based violence to access justice. The modern-day justice system is still adapting to sensitively deal with victims who suffer trauma. Thus a survivor-centric, rights-based approach is promoted by the organization via workshops and training for lawyers, institutions and other stakeholders. This helps to equip the latter with feminist justice practices and understand the evolving socio-cultural contexts and policies. The FemJustice Legal Aid Helpline is a part of this vertical. Anyone with a query on cases of gender-based violence like domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment; acid attacks; grievous injuries, forced marriages, online violence, rape – can call the helpline to get in touch with experienced lawyers.
The third area is Feminist Leadership comprising of workshops, institutional training, leadership labs for organisations, and the One Future Fellowship. The intensive, 3 months fellowship imbibes and nurtures feminist leadership. The program is open to youth from all genders and is an amalgamation of conceptual knowledge and groundwork for aspiring social leaders. The fellows are provided with a nurturing network of mentors and coaches via which they learn to create impact. The participants are equipped with strategies for organizing communities, fundraising, communication, program evaluation, etc. This approach helps to build people and not just ideas.
During their journey, the primary challenge that they faced was not being taken seriously because of the young team. Their clients generally consist of experienced professionals in their respective fields. With a dedicated team comprising of core team members and volunteers, they stood up to the challenge. Because of their thorough expertise and the willingness to act for change, they were able to dispel such doubts. The organization continues to impart the knowledge and values that they stand for in the times of the corona virus pandemic. They have shifted their workshops and modules to online mode from the earlier mix of offline-online interactions and activities. The team continues to work with stakeholders and bring out diverse resources that address pressing issues like domestic violence, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, etc. The individuals and communities are empowered to act compassionately and responsibly.
One Future Collective is thus working to realize the vision of a world based on social justice led by communities of care.