The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Speaker’s homeland gains progress for women

John Koenig

Women’s rights in the United States have come a long way in the last century. There is another movement for women, however, going on in India.

As part of the Women on Wednesdays program, Manju Jaidka, professor of English at Panjab University in Chandigarh, India, spoke on the progress of women’s studies programs developing in her country.

Jaidka said India’s society is still predominantly patriarchal and men still have the dominance over their wives, sisters and mothers.

The first born girl in a household is looked down upon as families still have to pay dowry for their daughter’s marriage, she said.

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As for education, Jaidka said a third of girls are illiterate because it is tradition for boys to go to school while girls work in the home.

“Women have always had to earn their freedom,” freshman Teresa Arnold said.

Arnold, an elementary education major, said women will feel liberated when they are up to the same social status as men.

Another problem, Jaidka said, is the presence of wives, even those with prominent jobs, giving up their money to their husbands.

However, she cited that great strides in the past have brought more equality.

In 1962, both girls and boys were allowed to attend school, and by the 1980s, women’s centers and women studies’ departments were developed in the country.

The mission of these centers, Jaidka said, is to “challenge for justice and equality.”

“These women were brought up embracing the patriarchal society and to think like a feminist was wrong to them,” Jaidka said.

She described the university where she teaches as a small warehouse-type building with no floor and a leaky roof.

However, once given money, Jaidka said the department evolved into a department similar to the math or science departments.

Although these programs have come a long way from being non-existent, Jaidka said there is still much more to be done.

She said there is a hierarchy of power where more valued subjects such as math or English are regarded, but women studies is not.

In India many appointed positions in politics are driven on who you know and pulling strings, she said.

Many women don’t participate in government and politics, although Jaidka had cited India’s first woman Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as one of the few exceptions.

She said that it’s like a glass ceiling for women; they can only go so far.

However, with the great strides in women studies in India, Jaidka said the thought process is beginning to change.

“Women’s centers (and women studies) have started to begin writing her-story, rather than his-story.”

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Speaker’s homeland gains progress for women