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''National Workshop on Gender and Development''

July, 2019

Organised by - Women's Studies and Development Centre with Institute of Social Studies Trust, New Delhi

February 11 - 16, 2019

RAPPORTEUR’S REPORT

Compiled By: Niyati Sharma

 

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THEMES DISCUSSED:

Introduction and Orientation to the Workshop by Dr.Manjeet Bhatia (WSDC) and Dr.Rajib Nandi (ISST) was followed by Keynote Addressby Devaki Jain, founder ISST sharing her experiences of working as a feminist economist and scholar both at the domestic as well as International level. She noted the importance of thinking about gender studies and feminism as highlighting issues of socio-economic political rights and justice and how it could pose a challenge to hegemony of ideas by creating a new vocabulary to raise women’s concerns as well as contextualise meanings of concepts like Development. She also traced a history of how women’s movements travelled from popular discourse to reference work of mainstream scholarship.

Keynote Address by Devaki Jain, Founder ISST

1. Gender and Economy:

  • Globalisation of 1990s changed the terms of engagement with gender in India to make it more women-centric, using terms like empowerment of women as opposed to earlier concerns with women as part of development and nation-building framework, as exemplified by the Towards Equality report of 1975.
  • Historically, women’s economic role remained largely an issue confined to conceptual fields of academic research, never becoming issues of political mobilisation.
  • Issues around women’s work were discussed in terms of defining and measuring it. Alternative methods like “Time-Use Survey” were identified as crucial for gaining a comprehensive picture of women’s work.
  • Contrasting the data from NSSO and “Time-Use Survey” highlighted how representations of women’s participation in workforce depended upon the method of counting, with NSSO data undercounting women involved in economically productive activities while Time-Use Survey depicting a more accurate representation.
  • Women working in informal sector were found to face additional problems, double burden of earning and providing care, lack of access to proper conditions of work, discriminations over caste as well as continuing gender-stereotypes.

2. Gender, Law and Feminist engagements with jurisprudence:

  • Discussions broadly focussed on CEDAW, the recognition of women’s rights as human rights at the World Conference on Human Rights held at Vienna in 1993 and recognition of rape as a war crime at the international level and laws in India like Domestic Violence Act 2005.
  • Practical problems in accessing the legal redressal mechanisms and attitudes of legal machinery towards women were also discussed.
  • The focus of Law’s language was found to be more on the criminal remedies like punishments and deterrence, instead of the restorative side of justice, hence “protection” not “empowerment” remains on the agenda of the State.
  • The tremendous transformative power of the Indian Constitution was discussed. Recent judgements around homosexuality, section 497 and Hadiya case and documents like the Verma Committee report’s Bill of Rights were interpreted as creating a space to talk about rights to intimacy, choice of partner, sexual freedom and autonomy.

3. Theoretical frameworks on Gender and Development:

  • Under this, frameworks of gendered analysis like Harvard analytical framework, the Moser framework, Social Relations Framework among others were understood through interactive sessions and group activities.
  • Various approaches to women’s development were discussed like the welfare and anti-poverty approach (or Women in Development), efficiency approach (Women and Development), and equality and empowerment approach (Gender and Development).
  • Practical and Strategic Gender needs were discussed and the intersectionality between various concepts like class, caste, gender, market, state, family was highlighted through an innovative group activity.

4. Gender and Health:

  • The discussion traced the relationship between gender and health and offered feminist critique of gender-neutral claims of medical science textbooks.
  • Socio-cultural, economic as well as political determinants of health need to be factored in when making health policies.
  • Group Activity: Based on fact sheets from case studies of Malaria and TB, participants applied the Gender and Health Analysis Framework to analyse and present the differential impact of diseases on men and women.
  • Differential impact was analysed in terms of biological factors, access and control over resources, access to healthcare and social factors, for example, stigma attached to particular diseases.
  • Discussions also highlighted that though women’s child-bearing ability is a biological fact; her relegation to the sphere of child-rearing is a socially constructed gender role.

5. Gender and education:                                          

  • Education was realised to be a double-edged sword which could reinforce as well as transform gender stereotypes and norms, deeply tied to power systems.
  • Factors leading to drop-outs, education paradoxes were identified along with practical problems in access to quality education like poverty, lack of teachers, mobility and infrastructure issues among others and their varied impact on boys and girls.
  • Role played by textbook and pedagogic processes in construction of gender identities showed the links between gender, education and politics of knowledge.
  • The way forward was identified as inclusion of gender in text-books and curriculum across educational institutes, taking into account diversities of lived experiences and contexts.

6. Gender, Violence and Media:

·         The discussion with grassroots activists revealed the deep-seated nature of patriarchal mind-set across societal institutions. The intersectionality of caste, class, gender, politics, economy, culture, education and health came into sharper relief.

·         The case of Haryana represented the insensitive attitude of police in rape cases and the operation of strong caste networks in protecting perpetrators of crime. Rajasthan’s protests against the dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, depicted the praxis of feminism and Dalit activism.

·         Informal nature of interaction in workspace and extreme competitiveness in the field of media and a general environment of economic insecurity were identified as precluding complaints against harassment. In this backdrop, MeToo movement was discussed as offering a catharsis and solidarity.

7. Gender and Policy dimension:

  • Gender budgeting and gender mainstreaming were discussed.
  • Gender budgeting was identified as a necessary corrective to gender-blind policies and budget allocations.
  • The five steps framework was discussed as a tool for deepening gender budgeting. Its scope was identified as a continuous process, engaging with policy at all stages of formulation, implementation as well as evaluation.

FEEDBACK AND THE ROAD AHEAD: RESEARCH SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE

  • Participants appreciated innovative group activities and interactive sessions that helped them in opening up and resonate on the discussions under consideration.
  • Themes like Gender and Environment, women in knowledge and service sector were identified for inclusion in the future.
  • A sharing of sources on research methodologies and theories was recommended.
  • Making certain technical terms more accessible in meaning to bridge the gap between scholars within and outside certain disciplines.
  • Further possible directions for inter-disciplinary research were identified especially at the level of grassroots in terms of how gender is implicated in socio-economic and political life.
  • Need for a balance between quantitative and qualitative research.
  • Research towards gender and equity in the times of increasing per capita income.
  • Idea for a future workshop on understanding and equipping students with research tools like research mapping in collaboration with IIT Bombay was floated for which the response was positive.
  • A Possible introduction of a course on Gender and Development at the Masters level in University of Delhi under WSDC.
  • A reader based on the proceedings of the workshop.