Academicians believe that courses in gender studies and women’s studies can play a big role in sensitising students to this issue along with workshops and discussions and other such activities. Many universities across the country already have women’s studies centres and gender sensitisation committees that offer courses and help students to be more proactive and sensitive towards this issue. The University Grants Commission (UGC) had also issued guidelines in the eleventh plan for development of women’s studies in Indian universities and colleges.
Delhi University, for instance, has the Women’s Studies and Development Centre (WSDC) to address women’s issues in higher education. It offers short-term courses for undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates. Certificate courses in women’s studies are offered at colleges for undergraduates. Courses titled gender and society for graduates and advanced certificate course in gender studies for postgraduates are run by WSDC.
Another university that has been actively working on this front is Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI). It offers many courses or components of courses in gender studies or women’s studies by various departments in the university. These include introduction to gender studies, women in Indian society, women and development history, gender and society, women and society, and crime against women.
“The Sarojini Naidu Centre for Women Studies, JMI, has since taken many significant steps for awareness and sensitisation of gender issues in the Jamia campus and the surrounding communities. It endeavours to be a channel, promoting women’s empowerment and gender equity through advocacy, capacity networking within and outside the university system, socially relevant research, and gender sensitisation,” says Bulbul Dhar James, director, Centre for Women’s Studies, JMI.
James believes that education plays the role of a “catalyst” in gender sensitisation. “There is a realisation that there is an imperative need to change the stereotyped mindset, especially of men and the community at large, which can only be done by purposeful and effective gender sensitisation. At JMI, we conduct workshops on capacity-building, skill enhancement, legal advocacy, self defence, academic seminars, peace walks through the university campus and other outreach programmes,” she says.