An engaging conversation on ‘Gender Equality’
Difficult Dialogues, an annual conference held in Goa, saw intense discussions on gender related issues, between diverse stakeholders ranging from policy makers, academics and civil society, to politicians and international organizations as well as rising young leaders. Cafe takes a look at some of the highlights
Over the last three days leading international academics, policy makers, development experts, NGOs and grassroots gender workers got together in Goa for the Difficult Dialogues2018 summit where they discussed and debated several key issues around Gender Equality – For Everyone’s Benefit? Attendees at the summit witnessed leading minds from academia, development experts and a host of celebrities discuss new policy directions in the area of gender equality. Filmmaker Nandita Das who was on a panel discussing the ‘MeToo’ hashtag message to raise awareness about sexual assault and harassment which had received an overwhelming response on social media. She said, “The #metoo movement has created more than catharsis for women. (It is) a space for truth to come out. While the initial reaction was ‘finally the time has come,’ it has gone on to become more nuanced, adding many other perspectives to the conversation. We need to deeper into the issues of violence and silence. There are many unanswered questions… why it took so long, from here to where and why this deafening silence in India?” Actor Gabriella Wright weighed in about her insight into gender roles in Hollywood, “The whole crisis reflects on what any woman in Hollywood has to deal with on a daily basis. The levels of gender related consequences differ. Sadly enough all of the women I have met in the industry have had to deal with all levels of harassment, whether its emotional, mental, and physical pressure and harassment.” UK politician and teacher Baroness Shreela Flather provided insightful international perspectives to gender inequality issues in the western world. Professor Sarah Hawkes, the academic lead of University College London (UCL) added, “Disruptive thinking about difficult issues is in the DNA of UCL and we are immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in and observe dialogues both difficult and demanding on what gender means to us all. Throughout the conversations it became clear that gender equality is for the benefit of all of us, everywhere” As a finale to the proceedings Arif Mohammad Khan, former Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament delivered a talk on ‘Why has Gender Equality Not Been Achieved Despite Our Constitutional Framework?’ which was well appreciated by the audience. Another interesting highlight was the initiative of the Goa University to promote gender equality through the Gender Champions programme. As part of this pioneering step, colleges under Goa University have created a team of ‘Gender Champions’ comprising the pairing of a student and a faculty member towards spreading the message of gender equality. These gender champions were awarded certificates by Professor VarunSahni, the Vice Chancellor of Goa University to encourage them to carry on this important work of sharing knowledge on gender equality. To capture the voice of students, the grand finale of Daring Debates, was held on the second day of the summit. The topic this year was ‘Masculinity Affects Gender Equality’ and the regional winners from Delhi, Manipur, Goa, Pune, Ranchi and Puducherry battled it out for top honours. After the end of a pulsating and keenly contested session, Shubhangani Jain of Savitribai Phule Pune University was declared the winner with Fenil Sadaiya of Xavier Institute of Social Sciences, Ranchi as the runner-up.
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