SANAM sees the effectiveness of violence prevention in a constant dialogue between theory, experience, intervention and change. It also sees the long term importance of developing several nodes of resistance and prevention, a rainbow coalition that can address the hydra headed monster of gender-based violence from different positions and routes.
SANAM is a rainbow coalition, a South Asian regional network
The first phase of SANAM was dedicated to developing a curriculum on understanding gender- based violence and its intersection with masculinities and rolling out an action oriented fellowship programme based on this curriculum.
The idea behind formulating this curriculum and its implementation was that effective primary prevention requires the generation and application of skills that facilitate
i) a critical understanding of methods, tools and theories that formulate violence prevention programmes,
ii) a knowledge base that sharpens the understanding that masculinities, gender and violence need to be located at the intersection of social, historical and economic processes
The SANAM focus was arrived at through a series of discussions that took into account the current range of interventions in the region, the tools that were employed within these interventions, available training programmes and theories of social change & transformation. The group decided that since this was a melting pot of groups and individuals who had been working in the field of violence prevention through various means for more than a decade, the pooling together of knowledge and experience could be a significant contribution in catalysing and developing violence prevention efforts in the region. SANAM thus, defined its role as a catalyst that would generate more effective and critical knowledge on prevention methods, skills and approaches and at the same time create an ever expanding pool of activists, researchers and academicians who would develop interventions in different social settings and expand the body of knowledge around masculinities.
The SANAM curriculum and fellowship programme on masculinities and gender-based violence was thus formulated to create several fronts of prevention and the success of this idea became more than apparent through the projects that were undertaken by the fellows, who participated in the capacity development process. The range of knowledge pieces and prevention strategies on violence that have emerged from these projects is a clear indicator of the importance of multiple sites of resistance as well as a rigorous engagement with knowledge on masculinities, methods and tools. The fifty projects on masculinities and violence prevention that have emerged include, in addition to development of training manuals and tools, explorations of themes such as conflict zones, political spaces, religion, media and popular culture, mental health, gender based violence, sexualities and diverse sexual identities. The diversity of the social settings of the projects also represent a fascinating portrayal of the complexity of the subject that masculinities intervention seeks to address; from specific ethnic and indigenous groups of men across South Asia, school going boys, male marriage migrants, transgender persons, to male sex workers, truckers, boys living on the street and families coping with bereavement in war.
Besides contributing to prevention strategies, SANAM is also a demonstration of effective and democratic network organising. Marked by a spirit of volunteerism and minimal administrative expense, SANAM has emerged as a unique space of collaboration and comradeship. All the members have contributed to the SANAM process and programme without any financial or other benefits accruing to them or their organisations. All decisions regarding SANAM are taken through a discussion and endorsement of all the members in face to face or online platforms. In a season where agendas are set in distant global platforms and then collaborations sought of groups willing to toe the line, SANAM offers a different approach to decision making and agenda setting through debate and prioritising the regional and the local.
The SANAM design is an evolutionary process which responds to debates and discussions within as well as a reading of the state of violence prevention mechanisms outside. In its short existence, SANAM has served as one of the few platforms that have attracted the best the region has to offer both in practice and in theorising change on gender, violence and masculinities. The SANAM study programme drew in several resource persons (RPs), many of them the best minds in the region on gender violence prevention, to join the team in teaching the modules of the study programme. The fellows projects drew in subject experts to act as mentors. The SANAM core membership comprises of twenty four people who have contributed significantly to violence prevention through their organisations, institutions and ideas. Add to this the fifty fellows who were selected for the two rounds of fellowships from across the region who have completed their projects and are now networked nationally and regionally to start integrating their learning into their organisational programmes and in many cases start fresh interventions. Thus SANAM in a short span of time has created a large community of over seventy people across the four countries of Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan that is thinking and contributing to knowledge on masculinities and designing prevention strategies.
This is the strength SANAM wants to build upon and become, both through its design and effectiveness, the regional hub that raises, addresses and shares knowledge that can be translated into violence prevention efforts. The curriculum developed by SANAM is now being made available as a public document that can be accessed, utilised and implemented by anyone regionally and internationally. SANAM design has kept it as an open and alive document that will be under constant revision and not a closed final project document that disappears and gathers dust once a project ends. Internally and through external comments the curriculum will be seeking amendments, changes, additions and revisions. SANAM sees this process linked to four aspects of its design, one, a process by which the scope and influence of SANAM increases through the implementation of the curriculum, two, creating tools and viable frameworks that can be applied addressing issues of GBV in different socio-economic, political and cultural contexts, three, by an internal mechanism of developing a pedagogy that will constantly sharpen the skill and knowledge base of core SANAM members, and four, sustaining a strong & vibrant pool of activists, practitioners and researchers from the region through continued opportunities for knowledge and experience exchange.