The Centre for GENDER, Martin Luther Christian University, Shillong in collaboration with Faith Foundation, Shillong organized a consultative workshop on ‘Creation of a Glossary of Khasi Words and Phrases on Reproductive Health’ on December 13, 2023 at the MLCU University Hall, Nongrah. The workshop was conceptualized based on the lack of local words to describe reproductive health and positive sexuality. People in general and children in particular are not encouraged to name their sexual reproductive organs aloud let alone talk about sex and sexual reproductive health rights. The workshop started with words of welcome by the Chancellor, Dr Glenn C Kharkongor. He mentioned that according to the book, The Languages of Meghalaya, brought out by the People’s Linguistic Survey of India in 2014, there are 20 varieties of Khasi spoken in the state. Dr Lavinia Mawlong,  Associate Professor ,MLCU set the context for the workshop. She hopes that this consultative workshop will be a safe space to share and learn from our daily fields of practice, to create indigenous terms and phrases to address reproductive health and sexuality. Through community engagement, the aim was to start at the root of that engagement, by together finding ways to address that which is hidden, shamed or silenced. This was followed by sharing of experiences of Faith Foundation’s work by Ms Shannon D Massar, Director, Faith Foundation. She emphasized on the coining of respectable and safer terms for children to use in the context of child sexual abuse. Dr R Jennifer War, Head Centre for GENDER, MLCU described the journey of the Centre for GENDER. She informed that along the way many themes have emerged such as concepts of sin, guilt and silence when discussing sexuality with university students. The workshop saw the participation of 40 experienced groups of people such as ASHA workers, nurses, doctors, social workers, counsellors, advocate, linguists and academicians.

The objectives of the workshop are to list the terms associated with sexuality, to translate English terms pertaining to sexual reproductive health to Khasi and to publish a booklet of suggested and recommended words and terms in Khasi with diagrams. The day’s workshop was divided into three group sessions: On names, what exists-gaps and  needs, and  pooling of  resources: mapping, insights, way forward facilitated by Ms Mary Kurkalang, Board Member, Faith Foundation. Probing was done as to why we need a glossary of Khasi words and phrases on reproductive health, who are we addressing and for what purpose. Through brainstorming session it was concluded that there was a need to prioritise key areas such child safety, family planning and awareness for parents. It was also noted that whilst listing and attempting to translate English into Khasi terms, we need to bear in mind not only the structural components but the functional components as well. The workshop ended with a  road map and a suggestion to include all Khasi dialects and coin the most neutral and acceptable terms related to reproductive health.