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Breaking barriers, Claiming spaces: LSR Academic Congress opens with 'Hum Mukhtara'

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“Breaking Barriers, Claiming Spaces: Women, Leadership and Change” from March 8th – 10th, 2015. A considerable success in its opening year, the Congress had hosted personalities like Bhanwari Devi and Kamala Bhasin. This year, it will see panels on law and gender and the changing equations of gender along with simultaneous student panels called “Youthspeak”. The Congress also features a number of performing arts workshops along with self-defense workshops. As a prelude to the Congress, the college also held a totem carving workshop where students and teachers were invited to carve out a totem from a log of wood, a symbolic gesture in many African societies. The Academic Congress, presented by the Aung San Suu Kyi Centre for Peace, LSR, was declared open by the Principal, Dr. Suman Sharma, to much applause and enthusiasm amongst the students and teachers. Dr. Sharma spoke about women breaking barriers and claiming spaces citing the example of the all-women contingents during the Republic Day parade, she also juxtaposed this show of courage with the condition of women in South Asia owing to their systematic discrimination. She talked about the Khap Panchayats and how eradicating such a mentality is the collective task of society at large, its many public and private institutions and the mind and heart of every person. She also thanked all the staff and students who organised the Congress and said that, “the Congress was not a male versus female war but a fight for equality and to acknowledge gender-sensitive male voices.”

The inauguration was followed by the staging of a play titled “Hum Mukhtara” which enacted the story of Mukhtara Bibi, a poor, illiterate woman from Punjab in Pakistan. The story follows Mukhtara Bibi’s trials and tribulations to which she is subjected after her brother is found in another community’s fields by a woman who had forcefully taken him there. In retaliation, the community in question demands apology from Mukhtara who goes to seek forgiveness but is subsequently raped and abused. After much grit and grief, she fails to get justice but decides to continue to fight instead of giving up. The play is a comment on society and its institutions like the police and the courts and also on the prejudices that we hold in our minds. A provocative play, Hum Mukhtara hit the right notes and set the cadence for the Congress which seeks to explore women’s leadership and change.   Alankrita Anand [email protected]   Image Source: Official Facebook Page of LSR Academic Congress  ]]>

[email protected]; Alankrita is a student of Journalism at Lady Shri Ram College for Women. Technology is one thing that terrifies her and at the helm of a good old newspaper is where she hopes to be one day. Reading, writing and holidaying (not necessarily in that order) are her favourite things to do. If not a journalist, she would be a politician, as goes the trend.

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