Tuesday October 24, 2017
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Woman breaks age-old custom, offers prayers at Shani temple

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Ahmednagar:  A woman entered and offered prayers in the famous Shani temple at a village in Ahmednagar district to break the age-old custom of the prohibition of women entering the temple premises.

This defying act prompted temple authorities to suspend seven security personnel. Villagers resorted to carrying out the purification ceremonies for the temple. The whole temple was washed with milk.

On Saturday woman climbed on the ‘chouthara’ where the idol is placed and offered prayers before disappearing into the crowd leaving everyone awestruck.

A ‘bandh’ was observed by the villagers in the context of the incident. However, the woman received praise from different sections of the society for her act.

Congress MLA from Solapur, Praniti Shinde said that she should be felicitated for doing what she did.

The identity of the woman is still unknown, but she has definitely left a lot of people startled.

The lady is receiving praises from all sections, but it is also bit weird that no one ever had made any issue regarding such a dark-age custom.

The very fact that villagers washed the temple with milk proves that the custom is not going to end. This practice is not something new to Indian villages as it prevails in many temples across the nation.

Women activists across the country slammed this practice, but the question that should be asked is- how this temple and this prohibition on the entry of women were never talked about before. In the 21st century, such discriminatory customs practiced in our country is a disgrace.

While the government and the opposition are busy debating the ‘intolerance’ issue, this question needs to be asked how come this custom doesn’t get debated under the ambit of intolerance?

Apparently, the issues related to women are in waiting list. First, the government appears to solve its party issues which include how to win elections and then, if the need be, they would move on to the issues of minorities, corruption etc and, maybe in the absence of any other issue, they might feel like discussing these women-centric issues.

This leaves Indian women with only two options, one, wait for their turn or go out of their zone and replicate this woman who went and made a laugh out of this absurd custom.

The biggest impact of her act is that she successfully brought the issue in light and now it is up to authorities to do something about it. Today everyone is talking about it and yesterday people were not even aware of it.

This case should inspire everyone to break the rules that are not justified and redundant for a society claiming to become vishwaguru again.

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Gender Equality Charter Soon to be Launched in India

ECU and Indian National Science Academy collaborate to reduce the gender gap

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Gender Equality. Pixabay.

New Delhi, July 24, 2017: Women in STEMM India workshop which was held last year in November, was organized by the UK, Australian and Indian government highlighted the importance of promoting women in the field of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) academic and professional endeavors.

It was observed in the workshop’s Summary Report that there is a very limited data available on the number of women working in STEMM in India. They also cited many reasons as to why there are so few of them working in these areas; a lack of role model in the family often acts as a demoralizing factor. When they do take part in the education programs in these fields, they are predominantly softer subjects or more suitable for women. While the so-called ‘hard’ science like- physics, observes a lack of participation from women.

Often the intensive coaching programs, which helps invigilate student’s preparations for qualifying admissions in these courses see a lack of participation from women, or are often made unavailable to them. If somehow they manage to enter employment in STEMM field their opportunities decline as they climb up the professional ladder, limiting their roles and responsibilities.

It was also observed in a keynote speech, that not only to women fall behind in numbers in STEMM but they’re equally invisible in other fields – be it for the lack of support system or be it the cultural boundaries. Many women after marriage end up being stay-at-home wives while the man of the house is ‘manned’ up for these jobs.

The report’s first recommendation was to create a proposal to extend the Athena SWAN charter framework in India to the Indian National Science Academy. Athena SWAN Charter was laid out by ECU which is headed in the UK.

The UK based Equality Challenge Unit laid out a proposal co-authored by Indian National Science Academy to bring their Athena SWAN charter in India; the charter was established in 2005 to promote women in higher education, research, and employment in STEMM. It was later extended to arts, humanities, social science, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. Universities are promoted to encourage a progress on equality and diversity, and the Athena SWAN charter recognizes their commitment to bringing this change by awarding them upon monitoring their progress and contribution.

Women in STEMM workshop was attended by ECU’s Athena SWAN manager, Dr Ruth Gillian, who said: ‘At the heart of ECU’s Athena SWAN charter is the advancement of gender equality for all, therefore I am pleased to see a commitment to promote and increase the participation and progression of women in STEMM careers by proposing the introduction of an Athena SWAN framework in India.’

‘ECU looks forward to partnering with the Indian Science Academies’ inter-academy panel to develop this proposal’, she added.

The report was concluded on the note that uniform data sources in STEMM and gender equality be identified in India, Australia, and the UK so that the issue can be reported systematically.

-Prepared by Nivedita Motwani of NewsGram. Twitter @Mind_Makeup


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Shani Shingnapur Temple puts an end to discrimination

a door opened to equanimity

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the shani shignapur

A group of women on Friday created history when they prayed at the well known Shani Shingnapur temple here by pouring oil on the five-feet tall idol of Lord Shanidev.

The development took place shortly after the Shani Shingnapur Temple Trust declared that women would be allowed to enter and pray at the open-to-sky platform from now on.

Trustee Shalini Lande pointed out that the Bombay High Court had ruled that there was no law to prevent women from entering any place of worship.

“Yes, we have taken this decision. We shall now finalise other details like how and when women can go and worship there,” Trust chairperson Anita Shetye told IANS.

For over four centuries, women have been barred from stepping onto the high platform on which stands a black stone — symbolising Lord Shanidev, the personification of planet Saturn.

From 2010, even men were barred from climbing onto the platform on grounds of safety. But on Friday, a few village youths barged through the steel barricades and offered prayers.

Bhumata Ranragini Brigade president Trupti Desai, several women activists, women from the Sonai village and neighbouring towns trooped to the temple too after and Trust decision.

They were allowed to enter and pray peacefully in the evening, breaking centuries old traditions.

An unidentified woman had unknowingly done the prayers in November last year, setting off a chain of events which finally culminated in a victory for gender equality on Friday.

Trupti Desai, who was one week ago prevented and assaulted while trying to climb on the temple steps, experienced a sea change when she offered prayers, oil abhishek and flowers on Friday amid cheers by a large number of people.

Friday’s decision was welcomed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

In January, the temple trust overturned another old practice and unanimously elected Anita Shetye as its first ever woman chairperson and another woman as a trustee.

On April 1, a division bench of Bombay High Court had ruled that under the Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956, women could not be barred from any place of worship.

The court directed the state government to take pro-active steps to ensure compliance with the law, saying “it is the fundamental right of a woman and must be protected”.

The government said it was totally opposed to gender discriminaton.

A day after the verdict, a group of women were stopped from entering the temple complex.

The unique open temple has no walls or roof. A self-emerged (svayambhu) five-foot black stone stands on a platform and is worshipped as Lord Shanidev, in the centre of the small village.

Shani Shingnapur is known as the only village where houses do not have doors and locks, and yet it remains theft free.

Even the UCO Bank’s branch in the village does not have locks on its doors.

Belief has it that thieves cannot steal or burgle in the village which is protected by Lord Shani and misfortune would befall anyone who steals. IANS

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Women startups shine this International Women’s Day

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Image source: indiaspeaksnow.com

By Kavita Bajeli-Datt

Today is International Women’s Day and start-ups are the flavour of the season. When both combine, we get women who are impressively standing tall among a clutter of new-age growth drivers.

Filtering through the cliched slogans that resonate around International Women’s Day on March 8 are some of the shining stars who have made a noticeable impact — not through hollow words but with hard work to build businesses by thinking differently.

Some of these young women like Sanna Vohra, Aditi Awasthy, Shabnam Aggarwal and Ambika Sharma have scripted success stories in a short period of time.

Sanna Vohra was just 18 and studying at Brown University, when she was smitten by the idea of starting a business. And it was just last year, at 24, that she saw an opportunity in the online wedding industry and decided to turn her dream into a reality by launching Indear.in- a shopping portal for weddings.

For Vohra, who has grown up all over Asia — in India, Singapore and the Philippines, a chance chat with her friend led to the birth of her dream.

“I was working at Morgan Stanley in New York and was in Mumbai for a week in January 2014, when a good friend was planning her sister’s wedding. To give me a sense of the location, her outfits, decor ideas, and the invitations, my friend had to go through multiple email threads, WhatsApp groups, and a word document with pictures pasted onto it,” Vohra told this correspondent.

“I went back to my job but continued doing research, and realized that no comprehensive tool existed. A few months later when I was 23, I moved to India and Indear was born: an end-to-end inspiration, planning, and shopping portal for Indian weddings,” said Vohra, who is one of the youngest women founders and CEOs in the Indian start up ecosystem.

A recent report by the Centre of Entrepreneurship (CE) threw up interesting aspects about women entrepreneurs. The report concluded that women are better in taking calculated risks, less prone to being over-confident, seek consensus of views and show sensitivity to needs of clients.

If Vohra started alone, so did Aditi Awasthy, founder and CEO of Embibe. Aditi’s business is all about helping students prepare for competitive examinations. The competitive world has climbed up the toughness ladder because of the sheer size of population jostling for better career options.

She eases the process a bit, said Awasthy, who founded Embibe when she was 30 years old. Awasthy, now 34, feels that it is a wrong question to ask whether women could be good entrepreneurs.

“There are successful entrepreneurs and failed entrepreneurs who may become successful later. Some of them happen to be women,” she said. “I think at times women disadvantage themselves by perceiving life a bit too much through a gender bias during the early years,” said Awasthy, an MBA from the University of Chicago.

“I don’t have children yet so I can’t say what impact that would have for me personally but I have seen situations where women have been treated unfairly specially in corporate settings. Things are changing though,” she said.

Shabnam Aggarwal, founder CEO of Kleverkid.in, also feels that the mindset about women entrepreneurs is changing, albeit slowly.

The 30-year-old, who holds a Bachelors degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, launched her venture in 2014 as she was passionate about children and their education.

“It was really difficult initially. I had to go through a lot of rejection and when you hear ‘no’ from everywhere, trust me it can be emotionally exhausting as well as tiring. The Indian startup space is getting hotter but many ventures are also failing to survive,” she said.

Ambika Sharma, 37, founded Pulp Strategy Communications, an award-winning agency, with an aim to provide marketing technological solutions to the industry giants.

Her venture is barely five years old but has already been recognised as India’s youngest and most awarded agency with an impressive list of clients like Google, Yahoo India, Nokia, Philips and Renault.

“Being a startup is more about mental strength and confidence than about anything else. For me, the process of raising the bar has just begun,” Sharma said.

When not dealing with complex market issues, Ambika unwinds with her passion for bikes. Her stable has a Suzuki GSX-R1000 and a Harley Davidson Road King.

“Challenges have been and will continue to be in the path just as the fact that they shall be overcome,” said this serial entrepreneur, who has an experience of more than 17 years and feels that technology has made it easy for a person to be a “perfect multi-tasker”. (IANS)