Empowerment and Transformation : A Case Study of Communication Skills of Dalit Women in India
Access to basic needs such as food, water, shelter, etc. has been influenced by unequal gender, race and class relations. Inequality of power between women and men has inevitably led to unequal sharing of resources such as information, time and income. Women’s employment remains either within the traditional female occupations or within the domestic and farming sectors, often as casual workers. New opportunities are available only to few women, who’ve had access to skills development, education and training. Empowerment of women is therefore an essential process in the transformation of gender relations because it addresses the structural, underlying causes of subordination and discrimination. // In India and other South Asian countries, people have been systematically discriminated against, on the basis of their work and descent for centuries. About 200 million such people called Dalits, also known as untouchables, experience violence, discrimination, and social exclusion on a daily basis. The situation of Dalit women in India needs special attention as they are one of the largest socially segregated groups anywhere in the world. These people are thrice discriminated on the basis of their being poor, women and Dalits. // Indicative of COL’s vision of understanding development as the process of increasing freedoms that people can enjoy, is the story of a fortnightly newspaper called Khabar Lahariya (KL), meaning News Waves, brought out by a Dalit-women team, for other women like themselves. Dismantling the two most pervasive of social hierarchies – gender and caste, this group of poor, rural, ‘low-caste’ women who have been striving hard to put an end to their suffering have received one of the highest journalism honours in India. This study aims to share the examples of these brave Dalit women who have successfully brought the written world – news, information and knowledge – into the rural hinterland in India. // Paper ID: 364
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