Thursday, July 28, 2011

International Seminar & Call for Papers

We are pleased to announce an upcoming International Seminar being organized by Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, one of our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network partners. Please see below the organizers' seminar concept note and call for papers. Do submit your abstracts as soon as possible. 


"International Seminar on Gender, Violence, and Development: The South Asian Experiences

12-13 October, 2011 - New Delhi

Organized by Dept. of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia in collaboration with UNESCO/UNITWIN and Indian Council of Social Science Research
In 2001, the United Nations adopted its Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved by 2015. Goal 3 states to promote gender equality and empower women. Various states have formulated policies to promote gender equality and to bridge the gender divide. In no society women are treated equally to men. From childhood through adulthood they are abused because of their gender. In many parts of the world women and girls are fed less than men and boys, have fewer opportunities to secure an economic livelihood not because they are less capable but the societal structure is such. They receive less education; have no access to proper healthcare which increases their vulnerability.

South Asian region shares a rich culture and reflects multiculturalism, intermingling of various religions and ethnicities. Most of the countries in South Asia suffer from widespread gender inequalities and violence against women. These violence are multi-causal. The social structure and institutions of society, widespread militarization of the region and armed conflicts, neo-liberal economic reforms are some of the major players in the violence against women. Gender equality is a contentious issue of debate in countries where culture and religion feature prominently as regulating factors in social conduct. Culture and religion represent the two important bases for social systems and rules. What is more disturbing is that these structural elements have given rise to some of the worst forms of violence against women in the region. Traditional feudal and patriarchal social relations play pivotal role in most of the South Asian countries in defining the relation between man and woman. Man is the centrifugal force through which all other forms of power are articulated. Individuality of a woman is either ignored or suppressed. This is quite evident in the South Asian context in the manner in which fundamentalists are reasserting notions of masculinity and femininity, as well as chastity and modesty. The religious and ethnic identities are centrally constructed around the roles of women in order to protect the power and privilege of men, particularly of the dominant castes and classes. The oppression which a dalit women faces may be starkly different from the oppression experienced by a westernized women. It is patriarchy, along with class and culture, which defines, determines, and enforce the relations between men and women in family and in society.

South Asia is one of the most militarized regions in the world. Conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan have attracted global attention.Parts of India, Sri Lanka and Nepal have experienced long-running conflicts. It is a common knowledge that women, especially poor women, suffer most due to wars and conflicts. The impact of conflict on women is highly complex and varies widely in terms of cultural and political contexts. Studies reveal that sexual violence is the most common form of violence perpetrated against women during wars and conflicts. Targeting the women of ‘other’ involves rape, torture, and murder. Various UN security reports show that 90% of war causalities are civilians and amongst them majority are women, children and old people. Entire communities suffer from the consequences of war but women and girls are particularly affected because of the status that they are granted in our society. During the time of conflict their bodies become markers of their religion/ethnicity/caste and gender, a battleground. They are raped, forced to undergo sterilization, other forms of violence include sexual slavery, forced pregnancy & are forced into prostitution. After war, many women are left as widows and single parents. They need help to continue their lives, special support to rebuild their house and job training to support their families. Available data shows an increasing number of female-headed households in Sri Lanka among certain occupational categories.

While global economic integration has provided new opportunities for some poor women, overall it is further impoverishing millions of already poor people, and is creating new pockets of poverty. The ILO Report (2009) on Global Employment Trends for Women   observes that for women access to decent work is limited and are forced to move into more vulnerable jobs. In South Asia, women, out of sheer economic necessity and to meet the high cost of living, cutting across caste, community and religious lines, enter the labour market in a thousand ways which are still to be recognised a economic activity by the government. Available statistics reveal that the work participation rate of women is low which makes them dependent on the male members of the family which contributes to the perpetuation of violence against them. Development, without the involvement of half of its population, is impossible to achieve for any country. Millenium Development Goals Report 2010 (released in June 2010) observes “Gender equality and the empowerment of women are at the heart of the MDGs and are preconditions for overcoming poverty, hunger and disease. But progress has been sluggish on all fronts- from education to access to political decision making.” Women are discriminated against men in health, education and labour     market. Countries with high gender inequality also experience unequal distribution of human development. Woman should not be looked upon as merely a creature to complete their male counterpart. They should be considered as agents of change and central to the process of bringing education, development and prosperity to all. The seminar is an attempt to look into the various forms, contexts, and nature of violence against women in the light of the challenges to development that it poses. Papers can fit into the following sub-themes:

(1) Gender, Violence, and Development
a. Displacement
b. Forced labour
c. Feminization of Labour
d. Trafficking
e. Gender and Environment

(2) Cultural Violence
a. Institutional Violence
b. Domestic Violence
c. Honour Crimes
d. Fundamentalism

(3) Armed Conflict and Militarization
a. Gender and Conflict
b. Case Studies from South Asia
c. Women after War

(4) Social Responses to Violence Against Women
a. Legislation
b. Women’s Movement
c. NGO’s and Civil Society

Other issues can also be suggested but it should be in the context of gender, violence, and
development. Preference will be given to empirical based research. All proposals should meet the following criteria:

a. 300-400 word abstract of the paper by August 10, 2011.
b. Brief bio-note with email and complete postal address.
c. Indicate the theme of your paper.

Please send your abstracts or questions to: OR"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recognition of Women's Contributions goes Global!

This month, scholars and social activists across India are beginning to pull together their thinking and research on the contributions of representative Indian women to public service, education, literature, and the arts. This work is to be compiled into a "Women of Vision: India" publication.

This initiative follows on similar work in Burkina Faso (read more here). 

The pioneer work in this Women of Vision series took place in the Boston neighborhood of Brighton-Allston. Recently, the Brighton Allston Historical Society hosted the 3rd Women's Heritage Trail Tour to recognize and publicize 15 remarkable, local women and women's organizations.

For more on this Women's Heritage series, see the BAHS publications: "Women's History Initiatives: Gender, Culture, and People-Centered Development" (Ed. Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney) and "Women of Vision: Brighton-Allston Women's Heritage Trail Guide" (Co-Eds. Dr. William P. Marchione and Dr. Linda Mishkin)

Historical Society Promotes Recognition of Brighton Novelist's Achievements

On Saturday, July 9, 2011, The Brighton-Allston Historical Society celebrated the 200th birthday of author Fanny Fern. Fanny Fern was one of the country's most famous 19th century writers and the first woman columnist in the United States. Fanny was the highest paid newspaper writer of her time, earning $100 a column in 1855. At the height of her career, in the 1850s and 1860s, her columns reached over a half million readers weekly.

From left to right: Quiz Contest Guest, Dick Marques BAHS Board of Directors, BAHS Visitor-Kevin, Peg Collins-BAHS President, and John Stenson-Master of Ceremonies

A history quiz game on Fanny Fern and other notable Brighton women was the highlight of the celebratory event.

For more photos, please visit the flikr site

Monday, July 18, 2011

News from The Women's Studies Centre at Visva-Bharati

We wish to share with you that The Women's Studies Centre at Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan recently released its Annual Report for 2010-2011 (from April 2010 to March 2011). The report includes a section on their extension activities and in particular, mentions several projects carried out in local villages:

"A number of meetings with the members of self help groups (SHGs) and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) representatives from Islampur, Basapara, Halsidanga, Mollarpur, Lavhpur, Govindapur, Ahmedpur, Ilambazar jungle (tribal villages) and other villages near Santiniketan, Birbhum, and panchayat (local government) representatives were organized during April, 2010 – March, 2011 by the Director, Women's Studies Centre, Prof. Asha Mukherjee [at left above] and the Research Assistants of WSC. The purpose was to identify and monitor the village problems and issues which can be taken up for empowerment through training, workshops to be organized by WSC, and also to inform them about WSC's activities and its role in the extension activities for women and the girl child."

For more pictures of village workshops and related Women's Studies Centre seminars, please see the flikr set here