Monday, December 8, 2008

My Name is Kaamaylaa: Presentation at Visva Bharati

My name is Kaamaylaa.
The name of my project is Sreehasani [sic]. Sreehasani means "Creative manual skills for self-reliance".

I have been working for 10 years in 9 villages (3 Muslim, 3 Hindu and 3 Santhal Villages) in 3 communities. The villages are Saatt tore, Khiruli, Kendradangal with Muslim community; Taltore, Darposhila, Baadh baubo with Hindu community; Baansh pukur, Kauaayte pukur, Bidya dharpur with Santhal community.

Our objective has been to create awareness, mainly about:
Nutrition related organic farming in household garden patch,
through several group-oriented activities.

Our main activities for Nutrition related organic gardening, has been:

a) To support 15 families in each village, to start nutrition related vegetable garden, through organic farming.
b) To become aware nutritional value in vegetables.
c) To cook nutritional vegetables and gain knowledge about several recipes of nutritional values of such vegetables.

My main responsibility is to look into the nutritional factor. When I first met the mothers in the community, they were not even aware of the word "Nutrition." I showed them pictures of vegetables with their nutritional values and discussed about nutrition. They learned about the components of Sugar, Proteins, Vitamins, Fat, Iron, Salt and Water in vegetables. For example, they came to know about 6 divisions of Vitamins... A, B, C, D, E, and K.

The groups learned to cook 35 varieties of nutritional vegetable recipes. They also learned to cook 2 or 3 oil free recipes.

The groups learned the names of the vegetables that were grown in their organic vegetable garden and trained to plant herbal trees for medicine purposes on the bamboo fences of their houses.

Most of the families had Papaya trees in their garden, but the papayas on the tree were mostly wasted. The groups were trained to make food like Haaluwa and Morobba with papaya. Now these trained groups come to the center and train other new groups.

So far, awareness of vegetable organic gardening and nutrition has spread among 200 households in the nine villages.
There are now about 200 organic vegetable gardens in the nine villages.
The groups now have the knowledge about nutrition and can discuss with others about the good qualities and nutritional values of organic vegetables in the garden.

Photo by Brenda Gael McSweeney

Gender, Peace, and Conflict by Dr. Arvinder Ansari

Presented November 15, 2008 at the Visva-Bharati International Conference on Women

"Women bear multiple identities and these identities are defined and re-defined in context of nation, race, gender, community and ethnicity. it is a well-recognized fact that women suffer in social-conflict on account of their gender and on account of their religion. Women may serve as the symbolic figuration of a nation. They are also seen as embodiments of male honour and as such become a site of contestation for this honour. Hence, the defense of women and children becomes and rallying slogan of men going to war, as women from opposing factions fall victim to rape and other sexual atrocities when represented as guardians of the 'race' and nation.

Women not only signify and demarcate juridical, political, cultural and psychic boundaries of a national collectivity, but they inscribe these boundaries in and through a myriad of cultural practices, their assumption of particular feminized subject positions, their relationship to the upbringing of children and involvement in religious and other ritualistic practices that construct and reproduce particular nations of tradition.

Women are considered a property and their sexuality is the most prized possession of the patriarch she suffers during the collective violence due to her sexuality and in the aftermath on account of her gender. During the times of collective-violence, ethnic-conflict and civil war, women become target of attack not as women but as the property of the Patriarch or as the icon of community honour. Women's sexuality is here attacked so as to teach men of the community a lesson that, as the natural guardians of women, they are not able to protect their women and must suffer the loss of their social property.

Women are very important for the reconstruction of the community. It is true that they witness the killing of their male members: their kith and kin are wiped out and the entire fabric of their socio-cultural existence is torn asunder. Women are left companionless and shelter-less and thrown into an alien environment. Under riot-torn conditions, when women's emotional and material world is destroyed, they are left with additional burdens. Thus, violence and social conflict not only affect women physically but also increases their responsibilities. As the scale of ethnic and social-conflict causalities has risen, both women's suffering and their responsibilities have increased.

Making visible women's experiences in situations of violent conflict, their agency in managing survival and reconstruction and women's notions of security and peace, is necessary to get due recognition for women's experiences as a resource and a space in formal politics for mainstreaming gender in the peace building process."

Dr. Arvinder A. Ansari
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
Jamia Millia Islamia

Agenda from the 2008 International Conference on Women after Independence, Visva-Bharati, November 2008

2008 International Conference On:
Women after Independence: Politics, Development, Law and Media.

Jointly sponsored by UNESCO and Women's Cell Visva-Bharati

15th- 16th November 2008

Day 1, 15th November 2008

Inauguration: Vice Chancellor, Prof. Rajat Kanta Ray

Welcome Address: Prof. Asha Mukherjee

Address by the Chief Guest: Prof. Brenda Gael McSweeney

Conference note: Sm. Swati Ganguly

Vote of Thanks: Prof. Kumkum Bhattacharya

Session I: Women and Politics

Chairperson: Prof. Maitreyi Chaudhury


Prof. Bonita Eleaz

Dr. Sarika Tyagi

Sri Achyut Chetan

Sm. Krishna Bandopadhyay

Session II: Women and Development with special focus on Work

Chairperson: Prof. Aparajita Mukherjee

Speakers: Prof. Mukul Mukherjee

Prof. Samita Sen

Dr. Nirmala de Abreu

Sm. Nilanjana Sengupta

Session III: Women and Development with special focus on Reproductive Health

Chairperson: Rajashri Dasgupta


Dr. Azra Abidi

Sm. Jharna Panda

Day 2, 16th November 2008

Session IV: Women and Development with special focus on Education

Chairperson: Professor Mukul Mukherjee


Dr. Paromita Chakravarti

Sm. Joyeeta Bagchi

Session V: Women and Media

Chairperson: Ms. Swati Ganguly


Sm. Rajashri Dasgupta

Sm. Ananya Chatterjee

Sri. Abhijit Roy

Dr, Somdatta Mondal

Prof. Sutapa Bhattacharya

Session VI: Women, Law and Violence

Chairperson: Prof. Asha Mukherjee


Dr. Ruchira Goswami

Dr. Rukmini Sen

Prof. Shamita Dasdasgupta

Sm. Anchita Ghatak

Session VII: Women and Development

Chairperson: Prof. Kumkum Bhattacharya


Prof Brenda Gael Mc Sweeney

Presentation by members of Srihaswani Project

Sri Krishno Dey
Prof Asha Mukherjee


Sm Swati Ganguly