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Delhi to host seminar on 'Stree-Shakti' in Indian context

New Delhi [India], Jan.26 (ANI): The Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA), a forum of socially active professional women, the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) and Prajna Pravah, are jointly hosting a two-day national seminar on the theme of "Stree Shakti" or "Women Empowerment" here from tomorrow.

The weekend event will be held at the IIMC campus.

According to a write-up prepared by the organisers, the theme of "Stree Shakti" is relevant in the Indian context as the western feminism that has come to the third world in three waves has well defined issues and positions on women.

Broadly, suffrage and political rights were the focus of the first wave, the workplace, sexuality, family and reproductive rights formed the agenda in the second wave and the third wave has been looking at the micro-politics of gender.

Third World feminism has been largely influenced by theories and paradigms in feminism, coming in from the First World.

These have not been accepted without critique. It appears that in India contemporary feminists have been manipulated through marketing and mainstream media and sold a cliched lifestyle as politics and political opposition.

Thus, while it is feminist to consume the latest clothes and addictive substances that the market offers, these remain lifestyle choices rather than opposition to patriarchy.

In India 'the idea of women's rights and dignity has a much longer history of individual women's assertiveness in India.

This is linked to India's traditions of goddess worship, where "Shakti" or female power is recognised as an embodiment of the feminine. This in fact "allows Indian society to be far more receptive to women's assertions and strengths" then western societies are. This, is the reason why, unlike the West, in India, men too have historically participated in the women's rights movement. Men have taken a leadership role in the abolition of practices like sati, and the institution of laws to allow widows to remarry.

Because of the tradition of goddess worship, Indian men are socially adjusted to the idea of women in positions of power. It is important to undertake a critique of as well. This deepens the contradictions that Indian women face.

In the present age, women have been pushed into terrible corners and confronted with terrible choices. The main issues that confront today's Indian woman have been defined by the feminist movement in India. Broadly speaking, these are as follows:Patriarchy and related hurdles and questions of Identity- Who am I?

Thus Indian women are today faced with changing social conditions and social questions related to women. These changes bring new set of challenges. Where does one look for answers to these circumstances? Are there any philosophies and thoughts from Indian Philosophy that offer us possible resolutions?

A large number of young Indian women have been trying to understand these challenges by taking recourse to notions of patriarchy that perpetuates a social structure wherein men dominate, oppress and exploit women (in varying degrees).

The thrust of the seminar, therefore, will be on discourses on Stree-Shakti in India to understand the notions of feminism that are our own, and thereafter, suggesting indigenous models of Stree Shakti and policy recommendations as per the needs of women in India. (ANI)

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