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What Do The Youth Think: ‘Should There Be Reservation For Women In Educational Institutions?’

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By Campus Watch:

Reservation in Parliament for women is under consideration and is a debatable issue. But something we should think about is whether change at the grassroot level is needed for women first. And that includes reservation for women in educational institutions. There are two sides to this debate, one that reservation in education will boost the confidence of women and socially uplift them, but on the other hand, it will increase the gender divide. Here’s what the youth had to say about reservation for women in educational institutions:

1. Asmita Gupta, Young India Fellowship, Ashoka University, Sonepat, Haryana

My answer is a resounding NO. There are two broad aspects to it, one purely philosophical and one which emerges from statistical evidence. The philosophical take sees reservation as opposed to the fundamental idea of equality. Women are not a minority in India, and giving them reservation would be categorising them as someone needing protection. A major reason why we have so few women leaders is the lack of confidence they have in themselves. They see themselves as inferior, and thus become the agent of propagating the patriarchy, the ill effects of which we set out to address through reservation in the first place.

The second reason is that reservation is not needed. Female child shows much better enrolment and pass ratios across primary, secondary and high schools throughout the country. The unfortunate aspect is the high drop out ratio. This drop out is due to a mindset problem and not because the girls are incapable of getting admission without reservations. What is needed is a change in attitude, structural changes in terms of reservation hold little promise for Indian society.

2. Sreya Salim, M.B.B.S, Government Medical College, Kozhikode, Kerala

The question of reservation for women in education is surrounded by a plethora of arguments and counter-arguments. A glance at the wide gender gap in education would make anyone argue for reservation. However, it may lead to many unforeseen consequences; the most important being the inferiority complex it fosters in the minds of girls. It is a kind of positive discrimination which gives out a wrong message that quota route is the only way by which a girl can excel academically. There are also chances that reservation may become a tool in the hands of unscrupulous politicians. Moreover, the quota system takes away focus from the real issue, which is the festering wound of gender inequality. Hence, a better solution would be to apply a bandage on this wound and ensure basic education for all. Ensuring equal opportunities is indeed better than setting aside opportunities for women.

Image source: United Nations Photo/Flickr
Image source: United Nations Photo/Flickr

3. Nikita Azad, B.A English (Hons.), Government College Girls, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab

I think the question should be more concentrated on continuous cuts on education for all the marginalized sections, which of course includes women. As of now, yes there should be reservation so that women’s social status can be uplifted since they are oppressed because of their gender. It will increase democratic spaces for women in society, as a whole. Education faced rapid commercialization after 90’s due to which women suffered a major loss. In the recent decision of the UGC to discontinue non-NET fellowship, it is women who will suffer the most because they have only one resource to ensure their resistance for studying further against the will of their families. At an age when maximum women are married off, only a few put up a fight to study and achieve their individual goals. Reservation will not only bring quantitative change, but also qualitative change in educational campuses, such as the choice of topics for research, the sexist atmosphere of campuses, etc. But, reservation alone cannot give the solution, rather a consistent struggle should be done for free, equal, scientific education for all, beyond the farce logic of merit.

4. Anand Singh, M.A in Journalism and Mass Communication, Benaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Reservation has always been a sensitive issue in our country, be it caste based reservation or reservation for women. To the latter, I would prefer not to answer in the affirmative. For I believe that we no longer live in such times where reservation is what women need. Doing so would be akin to providing an oversimplified concoction to a malady which requires careful introspection. Any such move may have the potential to kick up an already burning hornet’s nest.

5. Priya Jadwani, PGPM, Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon, Haryana

It is rightly said that “The empowerment of women has to be social, economic and political“. It is believed that reservation for women plays an important role in bringing the women of the country forward as they play an insignificant role in general affairs. This should not be the criteria because if women empowerment is the sole issue then more focus should be driven towards providing basic education to women and giving them a life of dignity through education. The point to be stated here is that women in no way are unequal in comparison to men and giving them reservation is just to encourage them and to drive them towards a better life. This does not imply that reservation is given to women to treat them superior but it is just to treat them as equals. However, the criterion for giving reservations needs to be specified very carefully because the ultimate aim is to bring in positive developments in the society and it can only be achieved when each one of us exercises our privileges judiciously.

6. Yogesh Bhandari, B.Tech, University Of Petroleum And Energy Studies, Dehradun, Uttarakhand

The very first answer that strikes on reading words like ‘reservation’ and ‘education’ is a big NO. There should be no more reservation in education, because the government has already inducted too many castes and groups into the paradigm of ‘reservation’. and its not leading to a ‘better future’. Reservation is given to improve the status of groups living in indecent conditions, but in many cases we have found quite the opposite of that. Students belonging to the influential section of the society are using it for their benefits. Even though, many supporters of this idea would be claiming that it would improve the status of women, but extending reservation to all sections of society would be a preposterous idea. As again many belonging from financially strong backgrounds would be having an unfair advantage. Moreover, to understand the perspective of women I asked my female friend about her opinion, and according to her too it is unfair to have reservation for women, because getting admission into reputed institutions on the basis of reservation is not justified keeping in mind how much effort is put in by every student in cracking a medical or engineering exam. Instead of that, give financial assistance to women belonging to tribal areas or from economically backward sections. In this way, the question of reservation becomes insignificant and also educational status can be improved.

7. Samprikta, B.A, Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai, Maharashtra

Reservation doesn’t really mean much for the average woman. What is the use of reserving a seat if a girl is not allowed to attend school? Looking at the pathetic condition of women, especially in villages, there rises a question, “Is reservation enough?” Instead of just providing reservation in education, steps should be taken at the grassroot level. Awareness and strict measures should be adopted. The aim should be to change the mindset of the people. Maybe, then we can say that India is truly marching on the path of development.

8. Rohini Banerjee, M.A in English, Delhi University (DU), Delhi

Despite recent efforts by our country’s government to encourage women’s education with the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative, there is still a sizeable section of the female population who do not have access to education. The reasons for this are manifold—poverty and patriarchal suppression to name a few—and it is appalling that even in 2015, so many women, especially in non-urban areas are being discouraged from pursuing an education. In light of this, reservation for women in educational institutions might prove to be an important oppurtunity for these women, who would otherwise find it difficult to gain access to schools or colleges. It would also provide a much needed incentive for them to follow an academic career, and challenge the patriarchal pressure that prohibit them to do so. However, a reservation shouldn’t just be confined to one particular marginalized gender group. Gender does not function in a male/female binary, and there are many out there who do not conform to “traditional” understandings of gender (for example transgender, intersex or genderqueer people). An effort should be made to recognize and empower people of these gender identities as well—as they are often not given entry into prestigious institutions despite having academic merit. If there is a reservation, it should be inclusive of all marginalized groups.

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You must be to comment.
  1. G.L.

    Monistaf was correct when he said that women cannot compete fairly with men. That is why eveything is reserved for women – lifeboats in emergencies, seats in buses, compartments in metros, special quotas in companies, want reservations in the parliament, and now in colleges – and then they talk about ‘gender equality’!

  2. Spider-Man

    I was at a local clinic when a woman asked me to leave my seat for her. I learnt that women are incredibly selfish and want equality only when it benefits them.

  3. Just a human with no gender, no religion and no nationality.

    Girls do not need reservation. They are smart and independent. Girls and boys both have the power and strength to compete and achieve their dreams. The problem is that society does not encourage girls to take up some fields and boys other fields. The society fixes some particular roles for both boys and girls and many young people fail to see this cage built around them because people bind their wings since a really small age.
    All youth of India and abroad should break the barriers around our minds and let our wings fly. All of us are equally capable and all of us can achieve anything, does not matter if we are poor or rich, we come from liberal or conservative families. All that matters is that we should realize that we all are different individuals capable of anything.

    1. G.L.

      If girls don’t need reservations, tell them to raise their voice against the reserved seats in buses, and stop asking men to leave their seats. Society does not fix anything. Women want it easy in life, which is why they ask for reservations. It is why women are reluctant to leave their comforts and choose to work as school teachers instead of travelling to work in metropolitan cities and live tough lives like men. In college, women opt for humanities and arts as opposed to science and engineering. Women always take the easier route.

  4. Suraj Rathod

    True women should stop this bullshit things of gender equality what equality yar mens are working in hardship far from their families from years together as like me and all my female colegues at their home state is it called equality when i say this they say that they look after their family and children what bullshit they have kept maid in their homes for looking at household things and i do all the things by myself only to save money for my family who is too far from me in other state and at the same time work even for more time than girls so where comes the equality its total inequality for mens
    So mens life is moving in a negative direction and women’s life is becoming bit luxurious in such situation how come the matter of equality will come it will never and at the same time even the most intelligent and deserving boy will fail to achieve his goal because hardwork is nothing and meaningless without opportunity because if there is 10 vacancies if 9 is already reserved for women so where boys will work hard for what goal they will work for so either boys have to end up their life by killing some bastards who is involved in providing such bullshit reservation system as only that crime i think will atlaest will provide a small sort of satisfaction in such a meaningless life which is full of selfish coward and educated illiterate peoples

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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