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Making Society Gender Sensitive, Dismantling Sexual Identities Crucial for Improving Women’s Status, Says V-C of Ambedkar University

Asha Shukla, Vice Chancellor, Dr BR Ambedkar University.

Asha Shukla, Vice Chancellor, Dr BR Ambedkar University.

Professor Asha Shukla talk about the importance of gender sensitisation and if the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape case led to improvement in the condition and safety of women in India.

Bhopal: Women empowerment has taken myriad dimensions in the last few decades and now gender sensitisation is emerging as an important tool for ending gender discrimination and offering women their due place in the society.

For bolstering gender sensitisation in the society, country’s first university of its kind, Dr BR Ambedkar University of Social Sciences, Mhow, has been pursuing gender sensitisation with topmost priority with an aim to work towards women’s empowerment.

Established in year 2019, Gender Studies Department at the university has been focusing on qualitative studies, teaching, research and gender sensitivity based trainings and symposiums in the last couple of years.

Among other things, the department is working for gender sensitisation and women’s empowerment in order to raise awareness on gender equality in the society.

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Started under the leadership of Vice Chancellor Professor Asha Shukla, a known advocate of women rights and gender sensitisation who was instrumental in establishing state’s first Women Studies Department at Barkatullah University in Bhopal in 2010, the department at Mhow university is the only of its kind in the state.

Professor Shukla talks to News18 about the presence of ‘glass ceiling for women’, importance of gender sensitisation and if the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape case led to improvement in the condition and safety of women in India. Edited excerpts:

Do you see an improvement in the situation of women in society in general?

Definitely, social awareness is on the rise and pro-women government schemes have increased. It’s also true that people with mental distortion remain present in the society but the important things is that gender sensitisation should increase and people should no longer be identified as men and women, and instead be identified as human beings so as to instil a sense of equality in the society. But this won’t happen overnight and it’s a continuous process. As you see in 60 to 70% crimes against women, the perpetrators are from within the family. So there should be a change in social mentality for things to improve.

How is the concept of ‘glass ceiling for women’ changing in the society?

Women need to challenge their colleagues with their grit and talent in workplaces. Another crucial aspect is that once in power, the women need to spread their clout in making fellow women empowered then only their power and position will be justified.

Do you see the status of women changing in our society?

Things are improving but unless the patriarchal mindset doesn’t alter, approach towards women won’t change. Progress of women depends a lot on their surroundings. Women are required to use double the talent and efforts to grow. For them it’s always a tightrope walk as a small failure which never stigmatises men, proves a major stigma in case any woman fails.

Do you find this trend concerning that certain women are lodging fake cases against men to settle scores?

Whatever legislations are there for the protection of women have come into force after a prolonged fight and struggle, maybe its norms against dowry, or harassment at workplace or provisions on sexual crimes after Nirbhaya incident. However, such fake complaints if not checked, could rob the sharpness of these legislations.

Do you see things changed drastically for women after the Nirbhaya gang-rape incident and related agitation?

The agitation post Nirbhaya incident was the first mass agitation post-independence era on women safety. Media, judiciary, parliament, NGOs and all stakeholders had their due share in it. However, stringent laws formulated afterwards could not be as effective unless a strong public mandate is there. We need to alter family mind-set. The sons are needed to be controlled and checked in the similar way our daughters are treated. Laws like property rights for women are there but it should not be a matter of debate but should be established as natural provisions in families.

Is there a marked improvement in situation of women in the country?

VC- Attempts are being made in the right direction. However, the situation of women is the same in MP as elsewhere. More than anything else, we need to bring a change in mindset that boys and girls are treated at par, and this should start in families. Once this sense of equality pervades in the society, approach towards women could be expected to change.

first published:March 08, 2021, 12:03 IST