On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Office of the Dean Students’ Welfare (DSW), Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) organised a Panel Discussion on ‘Women in Science & Technology: Assuring Access, Participation & Aspiration’ at the CIT Conference Hall of the university today. The underlying objective was to attract attention to the abiding concern regarding inequalities and gender imbalances that continue to persist in subtle ways in the field of science & technology. This was the first event of the International Women’s Day celebrations which are being held between 1st to 8th March, 2023.
The panel consisted of three women scientists- Prof. Qamar Rahman, an internationally renowned scientist & educationist, Prof. Prerna Gaur, Director , West Campus- NSUT, and Prof. Seemi Farhat Basir, Dean, Faculty of Natural Sciences, JMI. JMI Vice Chancellor Prof. Najma Akhtar (Padma Shri) presided over the panel discussion.
Prof. Ibraheem, DSW, JMI delivered the welcome address in which he highlighted that despite the policy initiatives and facilitative on-field mechanisms, several stereotypes continue to persist and many barriers remain unbroken. He emphasised that the need now was to focus on eliminating the imbalances at higher levels of professions.
Prof. Najma Akhtar began her presidential address by spanning the international scene and highlighting how gender equality has always been a core issue for the United Nations as demonstrated through its sustained adoption of resolutions pertaining to access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science, technology and innovation. The observance of 11th February as the International Day of women and girls in science is another step to keep the issue in global focus.
The Vice Chancellor further said that at the national level, our government has been proactively taking steps to bridge the gender gap. Initiatives such as the GATI ( or Gender Advancement for Transforming institutions), Vigyan jyoti scheme and Indo-US fellowship for women in STEMM found mention in her address. She followed this up by sharing that the issue of gender equality is very close to the heart of the administration of JMI. Until recently three highest positions of the university- those of the Chancellor, of the Vice Chancellor and Pro- Vice Chancellor were held by women. Currently three Faculties of the university are being headed by women Deans. She also recounted the achievements of some of the brilliant women students of Jamia who continue to make the institution proud.
Prof. Qamar Rahman drew upon her own work with women in the unorganised sector and her work on the physiological effects of nanoparticles to demonstrate how women continue to bear the brunt of hazardous work environments. She narrated personal incidents to bring to light the struggles of women who strive to achieve and make a mark in the fields of their choice. She also chose this occasion to dedicate her book Ufaq to aspiring young girls. Her experiences shared in an affable style touched a chord with many in the audience.
Prof. Prerna Goyal gave some quick but useful advice to girls in the form of some basic tips – invest yourself in education, support each other, be financially independent , have a voice and believe in yourself.
Prof. Seemi Farhat Basir in her presentation brought to the fore the stories of several women scientists whose achievements have either been attributed to male scientists or whose contribution has been relegated to mere footnotes to more influential papers by their male colleagues . She emphasised how diversity in its various forms enriches the field of science by bringing in creative insights and multiple perspectives to problem solving. She elaborated upon several initiatives at JMI which work towards gender equity by providing hand holding activities as well as redressal mechanisms.
The event which was attended by a large number of teachers and students ended with a vote of thanks proposed by Prof. Gurjeet Kaur, Assistant DSW, JMI.