Round Table Conference on Woman Empowerment at AMU

Aligarh: Aligarh Muslim University organised International Women’s Day by organising a round table conference to mark celebration today. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has advised all institutes to hold various programmes as a run-up to the International Women’s Day on 8th March 2020.

The Conference cum Discussion Programme headed by the coordinator Prof Naima Khatoon (Principal Womenâ??s College, AMU), was held in the Conference room of the Social Science Faculty.

The principal, JNMCH Prof Shahid Siddiqui and Director, Centre for Women’s Studies Prof Azra Musavi chaired the Conference. The Panel of the discussion consisted of a number of prominent faculty members from the Medical College, Mathematics, Psychology, Wild Life, Commerce and Education.

Dr Hamida Tariq, a renowned paediatrician and wife of Vice-Chancellor Prof Tariq Mansoor, presided over the discussion. Dr Juhi Gupta welcomed the guests and, Prof Naima Khatoon introduced the theme of the discussion. She said that the participation of women in every field is important and the mere presence of a woman can make a great change in any decision-making body. “There has been an affirmative global initiative to help women of all classes and sectors in the last few years and yet women empowerment seems to elude its goals by a wide gap,” she said. Prof. Khatoon reinforced the need to bridge this gap and invited opinions of the members for a certain realization of the targets.

Prof Roomana N Siddiqui while moderating the panel turned attention to the misery of women due to lack of awareness and education, the lower strata people being unresponsive to the campaign for women’s education and empowerment in our country.

Dr Juhi Gupta discussed the drop-out issue of female students; how the care-work, supervision of siblings in the absence of parents, child labour, financial crunch and lack of vocational training in school curriculum has caused education of girls to be looked at as a superfluous activity by the labour class people.

The socio-cultural taboos on women, safety as a point of concern, lack of toilets, hygiene and sanitation, transport being some other reasons for girls’ dropping out of schools, in the opinion of Prof. Asiya Chaudhury, Aisha Munira and Dr. Tamkeen Khan. In this context, Mrs Vice Chancellor Dr Tariq emphasized on the importance of Outreach programmes run by the University as a medium of creating awareness. Director of Adult Education Centre Prof. Gulrez Ahamd referred to the health camps organised by his Centre in remote areas of the town as being quite fruitful.

The panel came out with suggestions to educate the poor girls through Online Vocational Courses, Add on Courses along with regular ones, Mohallah Computer Centres along with the need for a systematic change in the society.

The gendered role assignment, gendered syllabi and education system were held responsible for the consistency of patriarchy, the need to overcome that, by all means, was unanimously agreed to by all members.

Prof. Sheeba Hameed expressed her opinion that each one of the members was capable of helping poor girls by inspiring and giving them education, creating role-models for the poor people to aspire for change. A suggestion for all women universities, citing the example of Haryana, also dropped in for a focussed work on women’s empowerment.

Taking up the issue of economic self-reliance of women, Prof Pervaiz Talib pressed on the need for guidance and training to the skilled women engaged with applique work in the ghettos of the town Aligarh. He also suggested for an association of the Management Department and Adult Education Centre in this particular area, to begin a kind of vocational course, providing seed money as part of the Incubation department to the skilled people and training impoverished girls in embroidery and other arts. SEWA movement and Dr Salma Shaheen’s set up were hailed as successful models.

Dr Seema Hakim and Dr Tamkin Khan took up the issue of Women and Health, need for health awareness, the ways to help poor women in the health area, need of nutrition not only for women in reproduction phase but for girls reaching puberty, and old women were emphasised on.

Dr Shahid Siddiqui, Principal JNMC expressed his anxiety over the increasing cases of cancer among women, different kinds of it ranging from cervical to breast and lung cancers. He accentuated the need of awareness among women of all classes, for detection and prevention of these fatal diseases. Dr Fareeda Ahmad and Salman Shaheen underlined the fact that women’s health at every stage of their life is mostly neglected.

Dr Sadia Saeed, Forensic Department of JNMC drew attention to the rising number of molestation and sexual violence cases in Aligarh. Under-reporting of such cases, victim shaming, insensitive police service, and patriarchal mindset hinder victims of assaults, in her opinion.

The conference came to an end with a vote of thanks by Prof Azra Musavi. The Panel strongly recommended the introduction of gender sensitisation in the form of a short or compulsory course at undergraduate level along with frequent workshops aimed for the same.

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