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India and gender equality

10 May 2011

Last week I attended a meeting with Vartika and the girls working with her project and after the actual project meeting we somehow started to talk about their frustration about the expectations on Indian women of today. That even if you are highly educated and have a successful career the career of many Indian women end the day get married or atleast then they have children. Women are expected to stay home with the children and that men are having the responsibility for babies is almost non-existing. Atleast as I interpreted it.

The girls also told me about some societies in Rajasthan were women are not aloud to be in the same room as the men, when even a man, especially one of the elderly men enters a room, she must leave.

Today and yesterday I have been reading reports about the situation of women in rural Gujarat. There exist societies were the women are to aloud to leave their home without consent of their husband. There was an example of woman that had got to a village as bride and since then she hadn’t seen more of the village than the courtyard of her of house. That was 12 about years ago.

I also read a report by WASMO’s former AIESEC intern Sarah Glück what WASMO’s water supply programme means for the empowerment of women. And as positive it is that progress is made, as depressing is it to read about the reality of these women and their daily life. I just want clear that I don’t pity them, they must be very strong to have that life.

But as my end note: Feminism is the radicial nation that women are people.

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Getting ready for the public (HOT) bus

8 May 2011

Tomorrow I will have my first normal day at WASMO, so no more homework.

One of the I reasons I like WASMO is that their method seems to work. What they do is that they transfer the responsibility for the water provision from the government to the local communities, including planning, construction and operation & maintenance. The government only takes the role of facilitator. And the reports I have read strongly supports that this method is better at providing adequate water, especially improving the daily lives of women and the people in the lower castes groups. Of course I have some questions from them, like how they statistically measure the end result: how many does have adequate water provision.

Since I will go between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar by public bus every day two of the guys from AIESEC Ahmedabad will accompany me on the first bus ride tomorrow. Today I bought a shawl to cover my shoulders and face and I will look something like on the picture.

Now I have to go to bed, goodnight!

First meeting with WASMO: homework and a slight change of living plans

5 May 2011

Yesterday I went to WASMO for the first time. I met the board, expect the Principal Secretary who was not there. It turned out to be very open what I am actually going to do there. I got some material to read as home work, to know which of their projects interests me the most. But I will probably to some kind of research for the resulting in a 50-70 page report on the topic. It feel a little bit like I am going to do my master thesis before I’ve done my Master, but at the same time it’s very existing.

Another thing is that the people at WASMO recommened me not to live in Gandhinagar, since the community there is very hindu/gujarati and that I would rather lonely there. So yesterday I moved to the trainee flat in Ahmedabad. We will see if I will continue to live here, since there is a company in Gandhinagar which AIESEC also has interns at which has a intern flat there. It’s good to be here, but I miss Vartika, her family (and the AC during the night).

Now time to start reading!

Ahmedabad induction

3 May 2011
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After the long wait at Bombay’s airport I arrived to Ahmedabad and I’m still here. Probably I will go to Gandhinagar tomorrow to meet with WASMO. This far I’ve had homestay with a girl from the LC, Vartika, and her family. They are so very nice to me and I get a lot of nice Indian food 🙂

Monday afternoon I met some of the members of the Local Committee and yesterday we went and did some sightseeing. First we visited a sikh temple and after that replica of the Vishnu Devi . It’s a little bit hard forme to follow all goods in the Hindu belief. I remember quite some for religion class in upper secondary school, but  that is almost ten years ago (omg, time passes by).

The last place we visited was Adalaj Wav Step Well, an fantastic limestone construction around a well from the 15th century. There are apparently some different stories about how and why it was built, everything from a widowed queen built for supplying her people with fresh water to that is was a hide out for a king and his knights during the time they were planning wars.

I took pictures, but I have to fix a USB cable in order to be able to transfer the pictures from my camera to the computer. So I borrow a picture of the step well from the net. I want to give cred to the real photographer, but I can’t find her/his name, but the picture can be found here.

We all end up in India

30 April 2011

Right now I’m sitting at Mumbai Airport’s Domestic Terminal. This far the flights have went well, but I’m really tired and my brain feels like Jell-O. Judging from this first experience with them, Kingfisher is a really good airline. But a note to self for the future is not sit close to the engines if it’s avoidable during long flights. It makes it even harder to sleep. I have flown so many times in my life that it would impossible to remember them all, but I still very scared when the plane takes off. It’s better now than a couple of years ago, then I could be horror-struck days in advance of taking a Swedish domestic flight to Umeå. But in that very moment when the plane doesn’t touch the ground any more I’m always convinced I will die.

The transfer from the international to the domestic terminal is here by bus and during that ride I saw real slum for the first time. Of course I knew that it would be here in Mumbai, and I am aware that there are probably worse areas than the ones I saw. But the contrast between me in the flight bus and a man that sat on the roof on his building became very, very obvious.

So now I’m here. When I started to plan for an internship I had no plans of going to India. Or more correctly: I had plans to not to go India. It didn’t appeal to me. My friend Alia went to Chennai 2008 and it was clear that she would go already in the summer of 2007. Already when she started to talk about it I thought that I didn’t want the same country destination. It was not until the end of my MC-term 2009/10 (MC= Member Committee = national board) that I started to consider it. Upon the question what I wanted to do after that term was finished I answered “internship” and the follow-up question was almost always “Where do you want to go ?” and I had to “correct” people a bit: the most important was not where, but what. I wanted to do an internship connected to water management, that was what I knew. And in the end of my MC-term were some of these and the most of them were in India and started to atleast think about it. In May an internship at WASMO became available and I really liked the job description, even though I didn’t apply due to that I need to finish my Bachelor thesis during that time. But I read about the city of Ahmedabad and the local committee and I felt that was a place I really wanted to go to, not only inure. When I was almost done with the thesis I started to stubbornly e-mail AIESEC Ahmedabad about the possibility of re-raising with WASMO. The first months it went slow, but after they changed their leadership team I got a really positive response…

And now I’m almost there…

Last hours in Uppsala

29 April 2011

My things are packed, everything is bought. The only thing that is I can’t find is my sleeping eye mask, so that I need to buy at the airport. I’m not that nervous, but I don’t forward to the 10 hours and 45 minutes I will spend in Bombay’s airport tomorrow. Thank you Kingfisher Airlines for re-scheduling my flight times, both from London and to Ahmedabad. Time to pack down my computer….

Candy Lent is over – now what?

23 April 2011
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In the beginning of March I felt that I were eating far too much sweets, so for a personal challenge I promised not eat any sweets at all during the time of Lent, this year March 9th to Easter Saturday (April 22nd). And just to clarify, as sweets I considered candy, desserts, cakes, crips, cookies, soft drinks, ice cream and all types of chocolate (inclusive hot chocolate). Already from the beginning I allowed myself one exception: waffles on Waffle Day. Besides the waffles I cheated twice: firstly, on a dinner for a girl celebrating her 30 year birthday I ate the dessert, a cloudberry mousse. Secondly, on the previously mentioned Night of Sustainability I ate three pieces of organic jelly candy, simply because I was extremely hungry.

So how has this experience been for a sweet tooth as myself?

I can very stubborn and I dislike giving in. The desire for sweets never went away, every time I went into a grocery store and saw the buns and candy or the promotion for new ice creams or my flat mate offering my a piece of his candy bar I felt “OH MY GOD, I want that!!!”. But even if the desire never disappeared I felt unattached from it, for example seeing people eating ice cream in the spring sun. It was simply not for me.

So today is Easter Sunday. Sweets are back. I ate something like six Anthon Berg marzipan eggs before I went out off bed. And they are, as always, delicious. But on the other hand it feels little bit like “now what”? I know that I can abstain sweets, so I think I will continue with some rule for myself also afterwards, something like only sweets once a week. Maybe not to start with when I come to India, but definitively when I come back to Sweden for the autumn.