My Internship Experience at Oxfam India

My Internship Experience at Oxfam India

Shraddha Sivaramakrishnan is a second-year student at Flame university (Pune) and worked as an intern in Oxfam India’s Gender Justice department for around a month.

The internship was a life changing experience. Before I started it, I was a little hesitant about how much I would learn since I could not go to the field to understand the work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the amount of knowledge and perspective I gained in the one month of my internship was tremendous. I have always felt passionate about social and gender issues but once I received the exposure that I did, I realized that there was so much that I did not know. The issue of gender inequality is much deep rooted than most people realise. When it comes to issues around the topic of gender, it is one thing to read it in the newspaper and on the internet, but it is completely different when you explore more. The resources and opportunities that were provided to me by Oxfam India really helped me gain perspective and understand the issues better

In my first week, a report on Bollywood was shared with me as part of a reading package. The report elaborated how Bollywood movies have always demeaned women and how that has an impact on its audience. I always knew that Bollywood cinema has had an impact on people - in my public speaking and debate class in college I gave an entire speech on how movies like Kabir Singh should be banned but after reading the report, I realized how big that impact is. It made me realize how women were being objectified and were being used as nothing but props in so many of my favourite movies. And even though I am a woman, I was ignorant about this occurrence. Not just that, I promoted this behaviour by watching those movies not once, but numerous times.

The report also had interviews of people along with statistics that showed the movies that they watched and unfortunately all of them were male centric movies. This is not just true for movies that were watched in rural India but also urban India. Even amongst the most educated and rich section of the society, people give box office space and money to movies like Dabangg or Kabir Singh and naturally the movies that make the most money or are most popular, will be the ones that are played in smaller cities. Before the report, I also thought that female centric movies are making big changes and are becoming popular, but I realized that they are not making as substantial a change that I wanted or expected them to. It is just a certain section of the society (which is especially concentrated in urban areas) that watches them and gives them the value they deserve but this is not true for rural areas. The report also brought to light the hardships that females go through in the Bollywood industry. Female actresses are extremely talented but are not given due credit in Hindi movies.

I was a part of another assignment where I supported the gender assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic that was done by Oxfam India. The assignment taught me a lot about research, coding of transcripts. I learnt a lot more about the various issues women face around violence and the varied forms of violence. The research interviews made me aware of the hardships that women faced (both at home and outside the home) during the government-imposed lockdown which included increase in domestic and mental violence. In many families, the financial burden has also come on women. Additionally, the medical facilities available to women were not even close to what was required. This work also made me realize my privilege, acquainting me to so many things that were happening on the ground.

Personally, I think my overall experience at Oxfam India was one that I will never forget. It broadened my perspective about gender issues, made me aware about social issues, taught me how to work in an organisational environment where I interacted with varied people. But most importantly, it made me more passionate to work for the betterment of the society.

 

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