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Radcliffe Institute Exploratory Seminar

Gender, Civil Society and the State in Contemporary India: Preventive Approaches to Gender Based Violence

Harvard University
August 26-27, 2014

Recent high-profile sexual assault cases in India have unleashed a torrent of media attention on pervasive gender based violence across South Asia. Less attention, however, has been paid to one of the precipitants of this epidemic— a serious deficit in opportunities for healthy and caring adolescent social interactions. This deficit correlates with massive unmet needs of young people of all castes and classes in understanding interpersonal relationships, reproductive rights and sexual health. Moreover, much of South Asian society still possesses entrenched patriarchal norms, and narrow views of gender roles — half the population of India believes
that it is sometimes appropriate for a man to beat a woman.

This exploratory seminar is organized by leaders at the FXB Center, SAI, and HBS. This meeting forms part of a multi-year, interdisciplinary project involving school based programs that can transform gender interaction and promote healthy and caring adolescent interactions.

Goals of the project include understanding how healthy gender roles can be shaped, within and outside the classroom, among adolescents, families, and social networks. A central objective is to identify the mechanisms through which the Indian state can adopt and replicate innovative school-based programs on a larger scale. Keeping in mind the diversity of India, this project will engage in productive conversations regarding opportunities and challenges facing the Indian state’s implementation of such programs.

Participants include key professionals from health and education sectors, policy makers, and scholars. Through discussions with key players, this initiative intends to foster new partnerships and generate innovative ideas and strategic thinking. With an ultimate goal of contributing to policy development and enhanced social justice for Indian adolescents, this project aims to assist with implementation of reforms for key government and educational stakeholders.

Workshop Agenda

Full list of participants and bios

Resources (password protected)