Ananta Centre launches a series of Dialogues on Women and Gender Issues on a platform developed by women, for women and dedicated to women. We are calling this series: The Woman Speaks.
This forum provides a safe space for open discussions which bring forth the true conflict within, focusing on both the inconsistencies in how a woman is viewed and her own battle to define her identity outside of society’s norms. We wish to draw attention towards a woman’s challenges, her experiences and her own affirmations of worth, power, and vulnerability in a period of underrepresentation and prejudice and her struggle to transcend the image thrust upon her to struggle for wholeness and find her voice.
We intend to bring together multiple panels, each with an eclectic mix of speakers who will share their lived experience, and open a dialogue on the changing role of women in influencing the course of social reform in society and moving from the dream, outward.
It has been said that women hold up half the sky. They are our progenitors and earliest guardians. Women play many roles – mothers, friends, wives, sisters, comrades and, increasingly, breadwinners. Yet, in our Indian society, women, to whom society owes such a deep and ancient debt, are often sidelined – refused equal access to myriad opportunities and public spaces.
Such matters are often brushed aside as being “gender issues or women’s issues”, however, whether our society celebrates women or denigrates and holds them back – that is a reality that affects not only women but all people – the best societies are those where women are free to flourish and explore; the poorest societies those that seek to constrain and define them.
This incredible and indelible impact of women and their actions on the socio-economic outcomes of all communities and nations is a key finding of numerous research projects which have demonstrated through concrete evidence and data the pervasive nature of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere and how – on reversing and combating these inequalities – communities begin to prosper and thrive.
Aims and Objectives
Inspired by this commitment and in the same spirit, the Ananta Centre plans to conduct a series of Dialogues on Women and Gender Issues which will highlight areas of concern to women – on a platform developed by women, for women and dedicated to women. These areas include developing strategies for increasing a woman's access to opportunities, resources and public spaces, her power and control over her own life – in the homestead or workplace, and, most importantly, her ability to affect change wherever she is situated. These dialogues will also serve to bring to the fore women of substance in various professions.
Since our inception, the Ananta Centre has believed in the aphorism: “Nurturing Women, Transforming India”. The ultimate objective of these seminars is so that Ananta Centre may put forth actionable recommendations on how to best empower women and support their ambitions - and to ameliorate the situation and lived experiences of women in India. Indeed, it is a principal objective that we will release a white paper of recommendations imbibing the lessons and spirit of this series.
Structure of the Series
Each of the five public sessions will revolve around a panel discussion with an eminent selection of celebrated personalities who care and are deeply engaged with the question at hand. The inaugural session will aim to bring Indian women from different walks of life together – and to use their example and experience to motivate and propel the discussion and debate on women’s concerns. The inaugural session will be titled, “The Woman Speaks, Part 1: What Glass Ceiling?: Indian Women in the Workplace”.
Issues and Concerns
Issues that will be highlighted during these dialogues include, and are not limited to:
- Economic and Political Empowerment and Achievement: Though women comprise around 50% of the population, they only own 30% of the world's private wealth. Getting more women into the workplace through positive reinforcement will add to GDP and lead to greater economic empowerment, better family life and improved over-all quality of living.
- Gender Equality: Gender equality means that men and women have equal power and equal opportunities for financial independence, education, and personal development. It is important that an environment is created whereby women find it conducive to work.
- Share in Decision-Making Power: At all levels, including at home and in the public arena, women are underrepresented as decision-makers. In legislatures, while the refrain is for 33% representation, several decades of discussion have reached nowhere even though women's political participation is crucial for achieving gender equality and authentic democracy.
- Women in the Workplace: It is important to ensure that a woman is ensured equality at work. Along with financial equality, it is important to provide policies that ensure that the workplace environment is helpful and allows her to work at ease without extraneous irritants. Some standards at the workplace include:
- Equal work for equal pay
- Workplace harassment and Strong redressal policies
- Infrastructure, freedom of mobility and public safety
- Gender friendly policies like maternity and paternity leave, etc.
- Education and Vocational Skill Development: Are the skill development programmes of the government catering to this need for women to upgrade their skills for the job market? Is the market forces responding adequately to deal with issues such as:
- Participation of girls in STEM fields and in formal education generally
- Adult education and upgradation of skills
- Post-partum re-entry into employment and bridge courses
- Urban and rural divide in the context of appropriate vocational training
- Promoting gender equality in the workplace as well as in the homestead
- Create public debate based on this seminar and find consensus solutions to the most salient concerns of Indian women
- Creation of a policy document or white paper suggesting actionable strategies for introducing real and lasting improvement in women’s situation
- Create content and resources on women empowerment which is freely available for those engaged in this space to lend uniformity in approach
- Creating a common platform where NGOs and change-makers in this space may meet, interact and share their experiences
- Influencing decision-makers and helping them make better informed choices in the favour of Indian women - driven by open debate and consensus
- Fostering a community of women leaders who may propel the learnings of this dialogue series into the real world of practice.
Find Out More
To know more, please click on the link below to read our blog about the inaugural The Woman Speaks seminar on What Glass Ceiling?: Indian Women in the Workplace”.