The Asian University for Women
Women in Public Service Project Summer Institute
Day Eight: August 10th
Transforming Gender Roles: Achieving Work/Family Balance
“Women’s empowerment requires overcoming a number of hurdles –including the gender stereotypes that relegate disproportionate responsibility for household caregiving to women…” - Michelle Bachelet- head of UN Women and former President of Chile
Women leaders across the world have identified their dual responsibilities in the public sphere and the family life as being one of the major impediments to their advancement in public life. It is thus important to create new policies that ensure that both men and women choose caregiving responsibilities and both receive similar treatment.
Questions for Discussions How can workplace policies be drafted to recognize the role that both parents play in child rearing and caregiving? How do we honor the value of caregiving, cooperation, and responsibility? How can we celebrate the responsibility of both sexes to fill caretaking and nurturing roles. Discuss mandatory and non transferable parental leave as a way to transform gender roles; quality child care services are also incentives for women to reach their full potential in public service. The patriarchal construct of the male head of household is often carried over and replicated in politics and public service. How do we address women’s disenfranchisement as heads of household? When women are denied agency and full citizenship and decision making powers in the home, how can they achieve leadership in the public sphere?
Transformative Strategies for Women Leading Change
Dr. Rangita de Silva in discussion with student leaders
Progressive Interpretation of Religious Texts: Women Reinterpreting the Koran
One of the most exciting developments around the world is the new initiative of women reinterpreting the Koran. Feminist scholars are drafting model family laws based on a framework of equality and justice. These interpretations reconcile the reality of women’s lives with the secular human rights framework and the principles of justice in the Koran. Some of this research brings to the surface the negative impact of polygamy on the family.
Reformist efforts to create a model family code have burgeoned in Indonesia and Malaysia. Siti Mulia, as a special expert at the Ministry of religious affairs in Indonesia led the drafting of a model family law (the Counter Legal Draft) based on the principles of equality in Indonesia. The counter Legal Draft is an attempt to move away from a patriarchal interpretation of Islamic principles to an egalitarian interpretation and calls for equality in marriage, guardianship, custody, property and inheritance.
On the other hand, the plural legal systems in South Asia have resulted in family laws that discriminate against women. Till recently, under Indian and Nepalese family law, certain groups of women did not have equal inheritance of property. Although the Indian Constitution enshrines the right of the State to promulgate a Uniform Civil Code to all its citizens, separate religious laws govern women in family matters.
Students will Discuss Opportunities and Challenges for Emerging Reform in their Communities and Countries Students will help to make recommendations to the Bangladesh Shadow report to the CEDAW Committee