Gender Issues & AID: Brief Chronology
Chronology of attempts to raise women’s issues in AID meetings / discussion groups (work-in-progress)
May 1997: All chapters meeting (College Park) – talk about how women can participate more. Informal survey found that women were fewer than 10% across all AID chapters at the time. Some noted that often a woman who would come would be the only woman at the meeting, she would come for a few meetings and then stop coming, and not be there by the next woman came, so that she too would be the only woman during the time she attended. Difficult to reach critical mass of even two women. May intersect with other factors such as attracting only from NRI or otherwise limited communities (engg grad students). [Same issue comes up from time to time afterwards]
May 2000 AID Conference in Boston. Guest Speaker Mythili Sivaraman, President of AIDWA.
Savita Kini – conducted a survey – when??
Savita began by explaining the motivation and goal behind the discussion and survey. “There aren’t enough women participating in AID, and women’s issues aren’t being addressed enough. We can not speak about India’s development without the development of India’s women. It is fairly obvious that ther is no gender equality in Indian society …
… These social problem exist even in educated populations. The gender biases have to also be eliminated from the education imparted in schools.”
July 2000 Volunteers form yahoogroup “aid-women” to follow up on women’s issues such as family planning, dowry, child marriage, bride burning, early marriages, forced marriages, binding stereotypes that women are pressured into adhering, harassment and rape, female infanticide, domestic violence, prostitution. Sought to identify more projects in women’s empowerment and addressing sterotypes in textbooks, and addressing lack of support for alternative lifestyles, like working women’s hostels that allow children. Read complete message at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aid_women/message/1
Group message rate (number of msgs per year in AID Women yahoogroup
2001: 171 – discussion on dowry. linking to ECAAL campaign. na lenge, na denge
2002 – 401
2004: 348 – much cross posting
Apparently from above numbers, cross posting and many members’ “write-only” participation may have led others to stop reading as well and activity rapidly declined.
April- May 2002: Kalpana Karunakaran visits AID chapters, talks about “Women & Urban Poverty”
2002: P. Sainath brings photo exhibition on Women and Work.
May 2002 College Park. Anti-dowry skit based on volunteers’ true stories and anti-female foeticide dance set to Gaddar song performed at India Beckons. Video available?
May 2002: Aruna Roy is keynote speaker at AID conference, Bay Area. Volunteers pass resolution to ake anti-dowry pledge.
December 2002 AID India conference Bangalore, volunteers take Anti Dowry Pledge.
2003: Calendar on “Women and Work in Rural India” featuring photographs of P. Sainath.
2006: AID Delhi report: “Prayas has now started holding classes for the ladies in the community. This is a significant achievement since women are foundation of the home and society and can make a marked impact on the thought process of people around them. ”
2006: Women write to BoD about absence of women in BoD. Some members of BoD take part in informal discussion in Columbus conference on how to encourage more women to join Executive board, and take more leadership in inter-chapter teams.
2006: Discussion at TX-LA meet (in Houston) on “why women’s empowerment is important” reveals extent of gender gap and need for awareness.
2007: Men and women volunteers raise issue of “ad” perceived by some as demeaning to women. No consensus at chapter level, ad remains. Volunteers feel need to raise more awareness and sensitivity and make some kind of policy similar to pluralism policy, on gender equality and common respect or standards of decency.
2008: forum discussion on dress code, segregation in education and public transport, and sexual violence raises issue of gender gap and need for awareness
2008: gender survey and private email thread brings out bias, stereotype, harassment, violence women volunteers in AID have faced, limited avenues for acknowledging / dealing with these issues. Feel need to break silence.
2008: Session on gender sensitivity in Buffalo conference. Follow-up session in College Park. Nafisa Behn from Uthaan present in both sessions, raises critical questions. Volunteers express need for explicit policy on gender equality and sexual harassment.