Tuesday, December 14, 2010

International Seminar on Gender Equality and State Intervention: Issues Ahead

We are delighted to advise you of a very exciting International Seminar on Gender Equality and State Intervention: Issues Ahead that was held at Punjabi University at Patiala, Punjab, India on October 28th and 29th, 2010. This event was organized by one of our "TWINS," the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Punjabi University at Patiala with support from UNESCO/UNITWIN (Paris).

From left to right: Chandana Dey, Malkit Kaur, Nandini Dey, H.S. Bhatti, and Gurmeet Rai in a pre-Seminar strategy session
The Seminar Coordinator, Professor Malkit Kaur, and the Head of the Department, Professor Harvinder Singh Bhatti, did an amazing job in pulling together experts and practitioners, spanning generations, from across India and beyond to discuss and debate, in plenary and working sessions, promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. In all, 50 papers were presented by Faculty and Degree Candidates on a range of timely issues, including:

  • Gender Equality and State Intervention
  • Gender, Culture & Violence
  • Gender Gaps in Access to Health, Education and Employment
  • Gender Responsive Planning and Gender Budgeting
  • Stories of Success and Struggle: Experiences of NGOs, Researchers, Academicians and Media
The inaugural address was given by Professor Pam Rajput of Panjab University, Chandigarh; Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney of the Women's Studies Program, Boston University that anchors our UNESCO/UNITWIN on Gender, Culture and Development, gave a special address as the Chief Guest; and the Punjabi University's Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Jaspal Singh, gave the Presidential Address. The Seminar participants also included our UNITWIN Network Partners Dr. Arvinder Ansari from Jamia Milia Islamia University; Gurmeet S. Rai, Director of the Culture Resource Conservation Initiative (CRCI); and Chandana Dey, Co-founder of the Bhab Initiative.

The 50 substantive presentations brought out fresh insights, and we understand that a number of the papers will be finding their way into a publication. From our vantage point, and that of so many people who gave us feedback, the International Seminar was a 'smashing success', right from the substantive and moving opening ceremony, clear through to the valedictory session. The ensuing publication will doubtless constitute an insightful and important contribution to the field.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Letter from UNESCO Paris: Soojin Min (Boston University)

Soojin Min in Paris during her UNESCO HQ internship
Dear Prof. McSweeney,
Hello! This is Soojin. How are you?
It was such a great pleasure to meet you at UNESCO!
As I mentioned, I would like to share my summer internship story with you.
I completed my internship at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, at the Section for Basic Education, Literacy and Non-Formal Education in the Division for Basic Education this past summer. Assigned to a literacy team, where six other people were working, I assisted with projects related to literacy prizes and conferences. I mainly worked on the UNESCO Database on Literacy Projects and Programmes, which was a pilot project. Based on UNESCO's criteria, information and details of literacy programs run by NGOs and governments were collected for knowledge sharing. 
Professor Brenda Gael McSweeney and Soojin Min, Paris
I also worked on press release documents for the International Literacy Day(ILD). Every year, on September 8th, the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize & the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy are awarded to a total of four entities that have made a difference in fighting illiteracy. Additionally two entities are honorably mentioned. The King Sejong Prize is sponsored by the Korean government and the Confucius Prize is sponsored by the Chinese government. Complying with the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD) thematic calendar, the theme for this year is “Literacy and Women’s Empowerment”. The award ceremony will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on September 8, 2010. This year's recipients demonstrate the power of achieving women's literacy through their amazing programs.
During my internship, I realized that the role of international organizations in integrating and supporting education projects is something that should not be underestimated.  I also learned that the best possible way to promote gender equality is through education, and I therefore believe literacy education should be the very first step towards it. 
UNESCO Headquarters lobby: promoting Gender Equality
I'm attaching my pictures at UNESCO, in front of its famous statue of Giacommeti and a picture of the UNESCO lobby and another one with you at the Comptoir. And this is the link to UNESCO's literacy prizes:
Have a wonderful semester!

Best wishes,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Education Specialists focusing on the Girl Child/Spécialistes de l'éducation axée sur les filles

Pictured below are Maria Malevri, Programme Specialist in Basic Education, Literacy, and Non-Formal Education of the Division for the Promotion of Basic Education, UNESCO, Paris (at left); with André Lokisso, President of AIED (Assistance to the Integration of Demilitarized Children). Maria was on mission in Burkina Faso in March 2010 on pressing issues of literacy and basic education. André's NGO is now also focusing on street children and other children in difficulty. Both experts give great attention to the particular challenges facing girls. Watch this space for more information!

 Sur la photo on voit Maria Malevri (à gauche), Spécialiste du programme en matière d'enseignement fondamental, l'alphabétisation et l'éducation non formelle de la Division pour la promotion de l'éducation de base, UNESCO, Paris; avec André Lokisso, Président de l'AIED (Aide à l'Intégration des Enfants Démilitarisés). Maria était en mission au Burkina Faso en Mars 2010 à propos des questions urgentes d'alphabétisation et d'éducation de base. En outre, l'ONG d'André met désormais l'accent sur les enfants des rues et autres enfants en difficulté. Les deux experts accordent une grande attention aux défis particuliers que doivent affronter les jeunes filles. Visitez de nouveau cet espace pour plus d'informations!

(Translation by/traduit par Aminata Kiello) 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Women’s Autobiographies in Islamic Societies: The Ultimate Unveiling?

With funding secured by Dr. Siobhan Lambert-Hurley an international research network was founded in January 2010 to foster an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to women’s autobiography in Islamic societies. The group first met in Austin, Texas and assessed the source materials used by members of the group in order to consider terminology and definitions. In December 2010 the network will meet in New Delhi to discuss ‘context and construction.’ Quite simply the network will discuss who writes, why, how and for whom? The third phase will take the network to Abu Dhabi in 2011 where the topic of discussion will be the content of autobiographical narratives.
By Dr. Roberta Micallef, Women's Studies Program and Modern Foreign Languages Department, Boston University.

Monday, January 25, 2010

'Women of Vision' Published by UNESCO, Paris!

Stories of 'Women of Vision' in a Boston neighborhood, written up by members of the Women's History Group of the Brighton Allston Historical Society (BAHS), have just been published on the UNESCO website!

Some highlights:

"The Coquette" at left was the pioneer novel of Hannah Foster - the first American-born woman to write and publish a novel - and was one of the best-selling books of the eighteenth century.

"Fanny Fern", a widely read and influential American journalist of the nineteenth century, reached over a half-million readers weekly through her columns at the height of her career.

A Paul Revere Pottery catalog is pictured here, showing the 80 Nottinghill Road English-style stucco workshop in Brighton, Massachusetts, USA, in the early twentieth century. In the foreground is Lily Shapiro, an original participant in the "Saturday Evening Girls Club," decorating a soon-to-be famous Paul Revere bowl.
Photos courtesy of the Brighton-Allston Historical Society.

According to UNESCO, Paris:

"The goal of these twin publications, 'Women's History Initiatives' and 'Women of Vision: Brighton Allston Women's Heritage Trail Guide,' is to showcase the significant and compelling contributions that women have made to this New England community over the past three centuries.

These volumes capture the complementary actions of historians and researchers who focus on women's achievements, and of local activists committed to preserving these remarkable women's legacies to inspire future generations. BAHS Women's History Group members researched and hosted advocacy events over a period of six years.

The first publication documents this journey, while the second is a guide to 16 notable women and women's organizations that have enriched the life and history of this corner of Boston and beyond.

Material at the links below gives a vivid picture of the evolution of these Women's History Initiatives over time.

This body of work has also served as a catalyst for similar initiatives underway around the globe, in Burkina Faso in West Africa, and in India."

-- From the UNESCO website.

UNESCO's Division for Higher Education also plans to share the Women of Vision initiatives via its Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet). This global network groups more than 8500 educational bodies in 179 countries, ranging from pre-schools through to teacher training institutions.

Click below for direct links to the Women of Vision publications, as well as other related links on Women of Vision in Burkina Faso, the Women of Vision exhibition website, the Brighton Allston Heritage Museum blog, and the Brighton Allston Historical Society website:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Launch of the CRCI's "Conserving Sikh Heritage" Calendar!

Gursharan Kaur, CRCI Director Gurmeet Rai, and Sikh leaders at the heritage calendar launch.

Portrayed here is the launch of the Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative's "Conserving Sikh Heritage" 2010 Calendar, which took place both in California, USA and in Punjab, India! These photos of the India launch show the director and founder of CRCI, Gurmeet Sangha Rai, presenting the calendar to Gursharan Kaur, wife of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Mrs. Singh is also known in the Sikh community of Delhi for her kirtan singing. You can see more photos from the CRCI calendar launch on our Flickr site here.

Gursharan Kaur and the 2010 "Conserving Sikh Heritage" calendar. 
From Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney, currently of Boston and Brandeis Universities and former head of the United Nations in India: "Conservation architect Gurmeet S. Rai is the founder and director of the unique Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative  that preserves and enhances India's cultural heritage. CRCI effectively bridges from helping forge international and national cultural heritage policy to grassroots action, notably in Punjab and other states in India... Gurmeet and the CRCI are the recipients of numerous local and global awards, and are partners in our UNESCO Chair/University Twinning Network on Gender, Culture, and People-Centered Development."

The preparation and publication of this rich heritage calendar is most timely, given that 2010 has been declared the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, for which UNESCO has a lead role.

For more information on the CRCI, you can visit their great website here.

Photos courtesy CRCI.