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AUD partners the citizens of Delhi—the quest for Women’s Dignity and Freedom

On the occasion of International Women’s Day (March 8), AUD is initiating an outreach programme that aims to bring to the citizens of Delhi, especially the women citizens of Delhi a life of dignity and freedom.

As a social science and humanities university, Ambedkar University Delhi is reaching out and partnering with the young citizens of Delhi to engage with questions of access, safety, dignity and freedom in public spaces within the backdrop of increasing crimes against women in the city as well as increase in juveniles committing crimes. Like 2012 in Delhi, the year 2019 saw the gruesome rape and murder of a young woman professional in Hyderabad.

Prof. Anu Singh Lather, VC, AUD said that the University considers it as a moral responsibility towards society to initiate attempts towards prevention of such crimes. Accordingly she requested the School of Human Studies to recommend appropriate preventive measures.

As a response to this, Professor Krishna Menon (Dean School of Human Studies, AUD) and Professor Rukmini Sen (Professor, School of Liberal Studies, AUD) had written an essay ‘Lessons from Hyderabad: yesterday, today and tomorrow’ published at an international blog post Gender Politics at Edinburgh https://genderpoliticsatedinburgh.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/lessons-from-hyderabad-yesterday-today-and-tomorrow/. The proposed activities through the outreach initiative of the University are seen as concrete ways of exploring some of the concerns raised in this essay. While on the one hand sexual violence has increased as per NCRB data, on the other hand resistance to everyday patriarchy has also increased. One main reason for this is the increased presence of women students in higher educational institutions in Delhi and India. Women students when assured of safety in public spaces tend to perform better in higher education. Ambedkar University Delhi always has more women graduates than men over the last decade. Through free-ships for single girl child, having a policy on sexual harassment in the university as well gendering different curriculum besides specifically having a programme on Gender Studies, AUD has institutionally in many ways made efforts to create a sustained culture of dignity and freedom.

Prof. Anu Singh Lather, VC, AUD further informed that through the outreach programme, the attempt will be to converse with young women and men as partners in ensuring safety and freedom for all. She elaborated on some of the activities through the outreach which are as under:

  • A series of workshops on masculinity is proposed, to engage with young school boys of Delhi government schools located in the Kashmere Gate area. The workshop will sensitize boys how to conduct and built friendship with girls, how to understand their own sexuality, privileges of being boys and the challenges the girls face due to experience of violence.
  • Students of AUD will work with Safetipin (http://safetipin.com/about/whatIsSafetipin) to digitally map the safety quotient of the neighborhood of the Kashmere Gate campus, through their smart phones
  • A digital safety workshop with special focus on cyber safety and cyber laws ensuring privacy and data protection is proposed. Both ethical and safe ways of engaging with social media will be the focus of the workshop
  • Access to public higher education has been an important history in the city of Delhi, with various women only colleges playing a very important role towards instilling values of freedom and dignity among the women students. An online graphic representation of this history will be a way of archiving this rich history of access to higher education
  • Collective walking of young women at night, overcoming fear and claiming equal rights to recreation and leisure in the city will be another activity
  • Professor Krishna Menon, Professor Rukmini Sen, Dr Niharika Banerjea and Dr Shelly Pandey have conceptualized this outreach programme and will be the key facilitators of these activities.