Women’s development cell


A look at the controversy and the arguments surrounding the decision to field an all male panel during Day 1 of Kirori Mal College’s Women Conclave, organised by National Service Scheme unit’s Women Empowerment Cell, Sahas.

The annual Kirori Mal Women Conclave was held on the 23rd and 24th September in the college campus. However, when the speakers for the panel discussion to be conducted on Day 1 was revealed, it turned out that an event which claimed to celebrate ‘Women and womenhood’ did not have a single female panelist, with the only one keynote speaker being female, Ms. Ira Singhal. The speakers announced for the panel discussion on Day 1 were Mr. Kanishk Priyadarshi and Mr. Pavitra Paruthi from Scoopwhoop, and Mr. Ankush Bahugana from MensXP. This decision was heavily criticized profusely on social media, as many came forward with the irony in representation in an event organized by the Women’s Develpoment Cell, and on the topic “Women and womenhood”

The repercussions of this event were felt on Day 1 itself, when Mr. Bahugana backed out from the event, citing that the panel discussion should have had female representation. Alongside this, the event was also met with protestors holding up banners during the panel session protesting against the lack of female representation. On speaking to one of the protestors, Adrija, a first-year student, she said, “In every panel, every field around the world, men are the dominant people who are part of these discussions, so I feel that in places like women conclaves which is on women’s issues, women are severely needed, So kya point hai discussion ka (What’s the point of a discussion).” She also stated that the discussion got derailed because the panel didn’t talk about major issues. She mentioned that there was no representation of transwomen or the queer community in this year’s event.

On 23rd September, the instagram handle of Sahas uploaded a post reaffirming their ideas, and justifying their decisions.

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We have witnessed a certain backlash regarding our all male panel for the day 1 of the Women Conclave 2019. Yes, it is true that the panel consists of all men but we took this subsequently intentional and bold step to convey and put forward certain views. Firstly, we believe that it is not only women who have the responsibility to empower other women. Voices of women are heard. But is not only the duty of other women to echo those voices. Next, Women Conclave is simply about celebrating womenhood and supporting hardworking women. Is women empowerment so sacred that only women have the right to talk about it? We certainly disagree. Furthermore, we did try to contact certain women we thought would make this panel even more admirable than it already is. However, due to certain reasons and their prior commitments, it could not happen. We cannot ignore the fact that for the past 2 Conclaves, we have had only women talking about women’s issues. This year also, majority of the sessions are dominated by strong women. The all male panel is indeed a controversial step but we do not regret it and are rather excited about it because at the end of the day, everyone has something to say. Nevertheless, we do have a female panellist who will be moderating this panel. So we request you all to kindly attend the session. We promise to answer all your questions. Yours sincerely, Arshita Chaurasia Head Coordinator

A post shared by SAHAS (@sahas_wec) on

On speaking to Arshita Chaurasia, the head event coordinator for the event and the treasurer of the NSS unit, it was mentioned that women speakers were invited for Day 1, but they weren’t available.  She stated that the idea of all male panel was taken to the Convenor and the Principal and they felt there was no such issue, as men should speak on these issues and be educated as well on women empowerment. Dr. Benu Gupta, the program officer for NSS said “What we are looking for is of course women empowerment and capacity building of women. But ultimately society is made equally by men and women so if we only keep on empowering women and not sensitizing the men and we won’t hear men about what they are experiencing, then it doesn’t make any sense. You are biased if you are not taking men on board.” It was also pointed out that six of the ten speakers were women, when taking into consideration both days of the event. To strengthen her argument, Dr. Gupta also pointed out that for something like the keynote session held by Mr. Rakshit Tandon on Day 1, on the topic of cyber security, expertise and knowledge was the determining factor and not gender.

Feature Image Credits: Stuti Srivastava for La Voice KMC

Prabhanu Kumar Das

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After the Supreme Court’s judgment to decriminalise consensual sex between homosexuals, the nation’s idea of love has been redefined. But redefined to what? 
In the seven shades of the rainbow, we have found a deeper meaning to love. On 6th September, in a historical statement, CJI Dipak Misra said, “I am what I am. So take me as I am. No one can escape from their individuality.” As millions of hearts swelled, enjoying this enhanced inclusivity in our society, there were others who were left to fend for their moralistic ideals. However, despite a widespread dissent, the celebration of love was awe-inspiring. Celebrations erupted in various colleges in the varsity. Within a week of the ruling, a couple of pride parades had already been organised successfully. In all their vividness and vibrancy, these parades are so much more than just colors, upbeat performances, or pretended interest. These parades are a celebration of love – an emotion that is warmly dynamic and passionately transparent, yet enigmatic. To celebrate this complexity, it requires more than just organizational skills. It requires heart.

Feature Image credits: Chandrika Mairh - Abstractions
Feature Image credits: Chandrika Mairh – Abstractions


CJI Dipak Misra, speaking for himself, and Justice A M Khanwilkar, said denial of self-expression is akin to inviting death. A delayed legal apology in garb of this decriminalization has been heartily welcomed. Notwithstanding sensibility, there has also been a backlash at the same ruling. The idealists and social intellectuals of their own makings have suddenly risen to a debate on the ethics of ‘unnatural sex’. It is necessary to mention this regression to completely understand how futile this movement will be, if we change only the law and not our thoughts. How can an act be called natural or unnatural? Is it because we indulge ourselves into believing that we can categorize all things, even humans? The problem with categorization is that it fails to hold true to its base model. Categories once defined, become distant over time, to grow into alienated, ostracised siblings, lost and forgotten. We cannot do away with categories completely, but we can understand how they form. For instance, the categories of humans based on their sexual orientations are structured on humanity; let us not forget this. If we hold this, we will know what it means to be human and that is to love.

Palak Kothari - WDC, Hindu College
Palak Kothari – WDC, Hindu College

Take, for instance, the Hindu College Pride Parade which was organized on 25th September. The Women’s Development Cell of Hindu College organised the pride parade in the college campus. With an active participation of performing and fine arts societies for exciting performances and face paintings, respectively, along with an Open mic on Homosexuality, the day was all colors and glamour, like many other parades around the varsity. When questioned about the struggles faced by the WDC in organising the parade, Palak Kothari, the General Secretary, said, “People sometimes make these parades only about the performances, forgetting the real motive behind them. Our biggest concern as a team was to make people understand the entirety of the issue in all its seriousness and sensitivity. Through this, we wish to lessen the slight homophobia that we seem to harbour despite everything. That we should be accepting, and that this acceptance should come from within, that was the biggest concern.” The pride balloons were shades of a rainbow, and in its roaring success, the campus saw a beautiful victory of love when the hearts were colored a rainbow too – for some time, certainly.

Sampriti Rajkhowa - WDC, Hindu College
Sampriti Rajkhowa – WDC, Hindu College

So, is it wrong to say then, that in recent times, our supporting a cause is because it is a fad? Does marching in a pride parade mean just painting rainbows and not be accepting? To say the least, to run away from this reality is denying yourself an identity. “Morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality. Only Constitutional morality exists in our country,” said CJI Dipak Misra. The idea of morality looms, always. Among the biggest challenges of organizing a pride parade is the challenging of this skewed idea of morality, ethical framework, and social prejudice. It is the challenge to our acceptance, and that’s all there is –A constant battle. You will decide how you rise up to this challenge, and you are the society. Indeed, the revoking of this ‘irrational, indefensible, and manifestly arbitrary’ law was necessary, but this is just the first step. Joining a movement should not only be about dressing up yourself, but also dressing up your mind.


Choose to see love. Choose to choose it and take pride in it.

Feature Image Credits:

Kartik Chauhan
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Gender Equality Mela is one of the key annual events conducted by the Women’s Development Cell of Miranda House. It is a celebration of the will to survive and thrive. It is a part of the efforts at generating discussions and creating a space for saying what is often left unsaid and for including those who are often left behind in the ideas and plans of ‘development’. The Gender Equality Mela is a part of MH-WDC’s campaign with One Billion Rising (OBR).

This year’s Gender Equality Mela was based on celebrating feminist conversations towards equality, the central theme being ‘Gender and Work’. There was also the celebration of MH-WDC’s Coffee Table Book, ‘Azaad Labon ki Guftagu’ which strives to provide with snapshots of MH-WDC’s journey and their tireless efforts at ‘engaging with wanting to create a more equal and free world, a world where gender equality becomes a live reality for us’, as the book reads.

The 3-day event played host to numerous speakers and panelists like Suneeta Dhar (feminist activist, Jagori), Bulbal Das (legal feminist activist, All India Women’s Conference), Jyotsna Chatterjee and Padmini (Joint Women’s Programme). These speakers emphasised on the introduction to the history of the feminist movement. The topic of manual scavenging was taken up by Bezwada Wilson (National Convener of Safai Karamchari Andolan) and Bhasha Singh. The session on Child Rights and Child Sexual Abuse was taken up by Vaishnava (Bud Foundation), Veronica Xavier (Child Rights and You) and Natuve (dramatics society of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College). The round table discussion on Students in Politics consisted of speakers from Pinjra Tod and Ramjas students. An ‘unconference’ was also organised which placed emphasis on feminism through art, language and music.

On Day 2, the session on Gender and Intersectionality was taken up by Dr. Chandra Sagar and Kusum Ji (All India Network of Sex Workers) and Renuka Bhagat. The session on Trans Community and Work was taken up by Rudrani Chettri. A session on Women and Work through development framework was also conducted by Neetha N. (National Labour Institute). The interactive session on ‘Queering Workplaces’ along with Lafz 2.0, the open mic featured speakers from Nazariya and Delhi Queer Pride. Day 2 also showcased nukkad natak performances by children from SMS (Srijanatmak Manushi Sanstha), LSR dramatics society and Anukriti, the Hindi dramatics society of Miranda House.

On Day 3, the first session on Taking Feminist Conversation Forward was hosted by celebrated author and feminist Kamla Bhasin, wherein she presented her letter to patriarchy. The second session on Women and Media was conducted by Rakhee Bakshi (Women’s Feature Service), Shrey Ila Anasuya (Feminist and Freelance Journalist), Radha Rani (BBC) and Deepajana Pal (fiction writer). The session on Gender and Masculinity was taken up by Pavel (Breakthrough India), Ahmad Farz (CHSJ, Centre for Health and Social Justice) and Apurv Jain (worker on issues of gender and sexuality). The 3-day mela ended with a screening of the movie Hidden Figures.


Image Credits: Miranda House Women’s Development Cell

Joyee Bhattacharya

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