The Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted a Three-Day Immersive Online Certificate Training Course on ‘Feminism: Fundamentals, Facets and Future’ from February 23rd to 25th, 2023.
The course, spread over three-consecutive days, introduced the participants to the origins and trajectory of feminism, its contemporary and European aspects, intersectional feminism, feminist theory in India, and the intersection of law and feminism. It initiated a dialogue on the fundamentals and core values of feminist theory and encouraged a feminist consciousness within the participants.
On the first day our second speaker, Dr. Leena Pujari Department Head, Sociology; Professor of Sociology and Asian and Asian American Studies, University of Connecticut, USA opened the discussion by talking about
Dr. Pujari initiated the session by pondering the fundamental question of how to locate the origin of feminism, which is a rich and vibrant body of knowledge, a movement, and a thought process. She acknowledged that feminism is not a static concept, but rather one that has evolved over time. She emphasized the importance of understanding the concept in its various dimensions and how it intersects with other aspects of identity, such as caste, class, and disability.
Dr. Pujari introduced three prominent scholars who have contributed significantly to the understanding of feminism: Bell Hooks, Sarah Ahmed, and Nivedita Menon. Each scholar’s perspective offered unique insights into the multifaceted nature of feminism:
Bell Hooks: Dr. Pujari highlighted Bell Hooks’ definition of feminism as a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and institutionalized sexism. Hooks argued that feminism is not about gender equality but about understanding the interconnected nature of oppressions and interrogating systemic injustices.
Sarah Ahmed: Dr. Pujari discussed Ahmed’s perspective, emphasizing the politicized understanding of one’s lived realities and the importance of creating more equal relationships with others. Ahmed stressed that feminism should be everywhere, as sexism has not been eradicated.
Nivedita Menon: Menon’s view centered on the idea that feminism is not solely about women; it’s about recognizing how gender intersects with other aspects of identity. She highlighted the need for an intersectional understanding of feminism.
What Feminism Is Not:
- Dr. Pujari also dispelled some misconceptions about feminism:
- Feminism is not about gender equality, as this concept may perpetuate privilege.
- It is not about assuming a commonality of oppression, as it disregards the diversity of experiences.
- Feminism is not about women alone; it encompasses various gender identities.
The Essence of Feminism:
- Dr. Pujari emphasized the essence of feminism, drawing from the scholars mentioned:
- Feminism is about understanding the interconnected nature of oppressions and interrogating systemic injustices.
- It’s personal and resonates with everyday lived realities.
- It is intersectional, recognizing the power dynamics at play.
- It is reflexive and responsive to challenges and critiques.
- It requires a critical political consciousness, commitment, and political action.
- It stands for transformation, solidarity, and a collective vision.
Dr. Leena Pujari’s session on “Feminism: Fundamentals, Facets, and Future” provided a comprehensive understanding of feminism’s core principles and the diversity of perspectives within the movement. The session highlighted the evolving nature of feminism and its potential to bring about transformative change in society. It left the audience with a deeper appreciation of feminism’s significance and its ongoing relevance in the contemporary world.
This session report serves as a valuable reference for those seeking to grasp the essentials of feminism and the potential it holds for shaping a more equitable future.
Acknowledgment: Trisha Shivdasan is a research Intern at IMPRI.
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