On 20th September 2019, FII Campaign Manager Asmita Ghosh conducted a gender sensitisation seminar for first year law students at the National Law University of Delhi (NLU Delhi). The seminar was organised by the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle, NLU Delhi, in order for first year students to learn the fundamentals of gender, patriarchy, and feminism. It was attended by the entire first year batch, comprising of 50-60 students.
The workshop began with a basic understanding of the differences between sex and gender, and how the latter was a social construct, and went on to discuss the massive impact that gender norms had on all of us. Students were encouraged to give examples of how they had seen gender discrimination play out in their daily lives and their families. Some spoke about how women were expected to eat only after the men were done eating in their households. Others talked about how daughters were expected to stay indoors while sons were allowed to roam free as they pleased. The workshop discussed about how gender roles constrain women, and also spoke about how it imposed the burden of masculinity and strength upon men, leading to emotional repression and stoicness being praised as manly virtues, while sensitivity was derided as “gay” or “girly”.
From there, Asmita talked about the foundations of patriarchy and patriarchal control on women’s mobility, sexuality and choices being the forms in which patriarchy ensured its propagation and control. As the conversation was centred around identifying and acknowledging oppression, it was important then to explain the concept of intersectionality and how oppression plays out differently for different women, due to their caste, religion, sexual orientation or disability. Students were encouraged to identify their own social locations and their various privileges and oppressions. The workshop stated how the struggle for women’s rights could not be divorced from the struggle for LGBTQIA+ rights, Dalit rights, disability rights, etc.
From the conversation on privilege came the discussion on allyship. Using the many male students present as an impetus, the audience was asked how they could use their privilege to aid the struggle without eclipsing or sidelining the role of the women.
If you would like to invite FII for similar workshops in your academic institution or workplace, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.