Gender Equity Studies Center

CENTRE FOR GENDER EQUITY STUDIES

(Mission Statement)

Women are likely to face hurdles in their path that might prevent them from availing the same opportunities for personal and professional growth as men, from getting the respect they deserve or accessing the same social goods. Our young girl students must be encouraged to get a deeper understanding of these obstructive structures and arrangements that they are likely to confront as they step into adulthood. They must be helped to explore sustainable intervention strategies and measures that will address the longstanding inequalities and ensure parity between men and women and persons of the third genders in terms of career opportunities, access to health, improved living conditions and better prospects for growth.

LONG TERM OBEJECTIVES:

The general aim of the Centre is enabling women students in every possible way to make a place for themselves on an equal footing as everyone else, enjoying equal rights and opportunities and able to live without fear of violence or discrimination.

Keeping this end in sight the Centre will work on the following roadmap:

» Planning strategies and producing data and documentation to influence the thinking of government and non-government agencies, to reinforce their efforts and help them reorient their objectives and policies so as to be better aligned with the idea of gender equality.

» Rigorous Consciousness Raising & Sensitization programs will be planned to foster values of gender equity and social justice through a range of activities as outlined in the section on short term goals. These will be designed to encourage students to innovate and ideate ways of creating more equitable and just spaces for themselves at home, at the workplace and in public and private domains.

» Capacity Building will be a major focus. To this end the Centre will offer Certificate Courses, Workshops and Refresher Courses that will train women teachers and students to retain and improve upon the skills and knowledge they gain in college, and to maximise their performance to the fullest capacity.

Specific Long-Term Goals Over a Period of Five Years

» Building a Research Centre:

It is important that our students graduate with a sound academic background and some exposure to research. The lack of academic excellence and research experience is often what holds our students back.

Therefore, Research is a primary focus of the Gender Equity Studies Centre, which is aiming to cultivate a distinct domain of knowledge within Janki Devi Memorial College, devoted to Gender Studies. The Centre seeks to promote new directions in feminist scholarship by initiating and facilitating multi-disciplinary explorations by students and research scholars, of trends and issues relating to women in particular and gender in general.

The ultimate purpose is to motivate our young wards to develop insights and new thought processes to create a shift in the understandings and arguments that have been used for generations in the context of equality and justice, such that new and inclusive political visions of these goals can be formed. A continuous involvement in the gender research field and engaging in a critical dialogue with both academicians and civil society will strengthen their resolve to strive hard for the cause of gender-equality. In this way students will get an opportunity to become agents of change.

Research projects undertaken at the Center shall be done within an inclusive framework that integrates for example, queer, feminist, and intersectional research. A strategic aim of a research project will be to integrate assessments of sex and gender into the research process at every step, beginning with the formulation of the research problem through stages of data collection and analysis and culminating in the publication of the research manuscript.

The path of research has to be meticulously planned. Small but steady steps can and must be taken towards the ultimate goal. The details of the Centre’s research plans are as follows:

• Problem orientation. - It entails the concrete formulation of a Research Problem and a thorough analysis of its causes, historical and social background and its relevance and urgency.

• A self-critical evaluation of what changes in the status of gender parity they are aiming at and indicate what concrete steps can be taken towards these, and how they propose to assess the degree and significance of the change.

• Preparing a comprehensive range of gender indicators - measures upon which the data is to be collected and analysed. Gender indicators are relevant in the assessment of gender gaps in access to resources and opportunities in areas such as education, employment, health or decision making. Amongst underrepresented or disregarded groups are people who might belong to different gender identities, have different gender expression, sexual orientations, ethnicities. They might have disabilities. They might belong to different socio-economic backgrounds.

Indicators are also required to detect incidences of gender-based violence within the household and without.

Indicators are used to display positive or negative change in a given situation. They are also important to show progress over time, for example, changes in women’s participation in the labour force, prejudice towards third genders with respect to employment, safe environments at home and in public spaces etc

•Stating the methodology used-including data collection methods, mapping mechanisms, tables and matrices, gender surveys etc.

•A set of guidelines stating how their findings could be used to build skills of data analysis that could be co-opted by future research groups

Extensive orientation sessions will be carried out to help research students in developing a clear understanding of theory and the key concepts of Gender Equity research:

a) Understanding Gender - Sex refers to a set of biological attributes in humans and animals that are associated with physical and physiological features including chromosomes, gene expression, hormone function and reproductive/sexual anatomy. Gender refers to the social roles of men and women, and boys and girls, as well as the relationships among them, in a given society at a specific time and place. Biological differences can create different needs and capacities for women and men, but these differences do not ‘naturally’ lead to or justify unequal social status or rights.

b) Understanding the differences in expectations from girls/women and boys/men according to norms of gender. Thus, girls and boys of different social classes or different ages may be expected or permitted to do different things and behave in different ways. Students must also be helped to understand the hidden interactions between gender norms and norms relating to other social factors such as age, class, caste, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status, leading to differential treatment. Such social norms have great power to affect an individual’s aspirations often predisposing them to follow a certain course or determining the range of possibilities open to them.

c) Understanding the importance of gender representations in schools and colleges and exploring curriculum design, teaching approaches and ways of creating more gender equitable learning environments.

d) Understanding how education, poverty and geographical locations affect access to education and other resources.

e) Understanding the importance of raising children in a gender sensitized manner exposing them to progressive ideas, such as women and other genders are first and foremost human beings entitled to the full exercise of their human rights and freedoms, rather than as instruments, in their roles as mothers, for service delivery to children, or as sex objects or people to be ostracized.

f) Encourage students to explore how gender equality will benefit their families and communities. There is a strong case to be made that transformed gender relations will benefit men as well as women – in terms of overall family income, for instance, or men’s emancipation from imprisoning expectations and stereotypes concerning masculinity.

g) Understanding what is meant by Gender mainstreaming – “…a strategy for making the concerns and experiences of women as well as of men an integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal of mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality.” (A definition given by ILO - https://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/gender/newsite2002/about/defin.htm)

h) Understanding the difference between Gender Equality and Gender Equity? - The concept of gender equity refers to “fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs. This may”. It is distinct and different from the concept of gender equality, which is the effective equality between men and women, that entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypical views, rigid gender roles, and prejudices.

i) Understanding what is Gender Based Violence, GBV for short. It takes many forms, including sexual violence, domestic violence, sex trafficking, child marriage and ‘honour’ crimes. GBV disproportionately harms women and girls because of their subordinate status. Harassment consisting of sexist remarks, sexually crude or offensive behaviour, stalking, unwanted and lewd phone conversations, policing of women at the work place or at home and gender policing also comes under Gender Based Violence. Sexual harassment has been expanded into gender harassment as there is growing evidence of sexual and gender harassment against LGBTQ individuals.

A slow and steady progress in formulating the required understanding will lead to new ideas to promote equal treatment or treatment that is different to suit different needs but is equivalent in terms of rights, benefits and opportunities on the one hand and obligations of all stakeholders to maintain these values on the other.

Every Research candidate will work under a carefully selected supervisor who will guide their work and will attach with a mentor who will be responsible for overseeing their projects to completion. Guidance for publishing the results of their research will also be provided.

Efforts will be made to establish contacts with other institutions and scholars through collaborative research programmes, find new institutional partners as well as share research findings with a growing network of scholars and activists.

In pursuance of this end a major objective the Center has set for itself is to revive the WSRC (Women’s Studies Research Center) which was launched in the college in 2002. The WSRC is an integral part of the College Library and has an invaluable collection of books, pamphlets, journals and magazines containing feminist writings and sociological, economic, political and cultural research on Gender issues. Most books were gifted by the British Council and erstwhile Principal, Dr. Aruna Chakravarty. Systematic consolidation of the existing resources and fortification of these with added resources including access to E-Resources will give JDMC an opportunity to build a Public Research Center for Gender studies.

SHORT TERM OBJECTIVES

The Centre’s short-term objectives will keep in mind the objectives of the Women Development Cell which will now be a part of the GESC. The following will comprise its calendar of regular activities and events: »

Weekly/Fortnightly discussion sessions that will provide all stakeholders at JDMC a platform for meaningful and sustained discussions on issues that relate to Gender Equity.

» Lectures/Talks by eminent personalities/ film screenings and other such mediums that will encourage students to innovate mechanisms for Gender Mainstreaming –working on methods of integrating a gender equality perspective, a gender dimension in all that they do in their personal & professional lives. The focus will be on teaching students to use gender equity as a filter to evaluate public policy, laws, government programmes and the work of NGOs or other such organizations.

» A White Paper Writing competition will be held every semester to assess student responsiveness to such a challenge

» A series of regular activities will be conducted as usual:

» teaching slum children, especially girls

» skill development workshops

» career guidance sessions

» visits to old age/destitute women’s homes/ night shelters

» flash mobs

» street plays

» online competitions

• A team of students and teachers will be set up to investigate avenues for collaborations and alliances with Advocacy groups, Government Organizations, NGOs, Policy makers, District Authorities, and Educational Institutions with the purpose of initiating joint efforts to design and refine programs and projects for women’s safety and prevention of violence against women.

• To explore employment and career opportunities for our young students in the field of gender equity by engaging with Education, Art and Industry.

In all its efforts and activities, the Centre will keep in sight the following

Evolve Measures & Means appropriate to college students and teachers;

Set specific measurable identifiable Targets;

Work according to realistic Timeframes;

Work on sustainable goals that can be pursued by future groups of students.

Ruplekha Khullar Sandhya Garg Rajlakshmi Rama Debahuti Bramhachari