Mar 16

Women Changing India

Mumbai, India
  • Add to Calendar 2012-03-16 04:00:00 2012-03-16 04:00:00 Women Changing India Global Symposium in Mumbai a Great Success In March, the Athena Center traveled to Mumbai for the fourth annual Barnard College Global Symposium.   This day-long event, Women Changing India, brought together exceptional leaders in government, commerce, academia, media, and the arts.   After introductory remarks from Mihir Doshi, Managing Director and CEO of Credit Suisse India, the event sponsor,  Barnard alumna Saloni Chand Jhaveri '86 and President Debora Spar, the 400+ members of an enthusiastic audience were treated to three interesting panels on social activism, entrepreneurship and cultural expression.  The first panel of the day, Conversations on Social Activism, showcased women whose work is affecting change and improving conditions for women and children. Moderated by Athena Center Director, Kathryn Kolbert, the speakers included Kiran Bedi, India’s first and highest ranking woman police officer; Mirai Chatterjee, director of social security at the Self Employed Women’s Association; Shaheen Mistri, founder of Teach for India; and Gita Sen, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore.  The following panel, Voices of the Region, highlighted major contributors to arts and media in India. The speakers included Nandita Das, actress and activist; Mallika Kapur, CNN's international correspondent; Farah Khan, film director and choreographer; Brinda Somaya, architect and conservationist, and moderator Shayoni Mitra, assistant professor in Barnard’s Department of Theatre. Empowering Women through Enterprise gathered high-profile leaders in business and government. Speakers included Vedika Bhandarkar, managing director and vice chairman of Credit Suisse India; Shaina NC, fashion designer and politician; Zia Mody, corporate lawyer and businesswoman and Chhavi Rajawat, Sarpanch of Soda. President Spar moderated. On the day before the symposium, six Barnard students, including two Athena scholars,  led a leadership program with 100 local high school and college students, where they had the young women participate in a town hall simulation that the students developed.  Based on questions raised by redevelopment plans for a Mumbai slum, the Indian students played differing roles:  government workers, developers, people being forced to relocate, and had to present arguments in support of their views.   Following the symposium, Director Kolbert travelled with 25 alumnae and friends to Jaipur, Agra and other locations in northern India.    Women Changing India: A Student's Point of View By Barnard Junior, Sara Lederman The most ironic part was that, after 4 months of endless preparation and excitement, I arrived at the classrooms at the Cathedral School in Mumbai and realized I was not -- and had never really been -- the teacher. I had been the student all along, and now, looking in the faces of the 16 year-olds I was supposed to "teach," something finally clicked. The point of the workshops was not to teach in the traditional sense, but rather to facilitate and join an important, cross-cultural exploration of leadership. I was humbled by how articulate and poised all of the young women were. I was educated.    For me, "leadership" had always been this buzz word that seemed to be everywhere, and yet at the same time, no where. We talk about it ad nauseum: what is a leader? Who is a leader? Why be a leader? The conversation, for me at least, became a bit too theoretical and abstract. The word leader seemed to become empty, and I grew cynical. But that changed in India.   Along with five other wonderful fellows, I had the opportunity to design a leadership workshop for high school girls in Mumbai with the guidance of Athena Director, Kathryn Kolbert. At first, I'll admit, I was a bit hesitant: how can we teach them what it means to be a leader? What does it even mean to be a leader as a young woman in India? There seemed to be a lot of questions and not a lot of time to develop the workshop. We decided that we wanted to take a risk and develop a plan that involved more improvisation on everyone's part with the hopes that a more active plan would allow the girls to take more ownership of the workshop. We created a simulation and hoped that the participants would become involved and inspired by it. But we couldn't control how these girls received the workshop, we could only influence them. Nothing about our curriculum was cut-and-dry or formulaic -- while we all entered our respective classrooms with the same guidebook and vision, we each facilitated 6 different simulations simply because we had 6 different groups comprised of unique personalities.    As we began outlining our goals, it became clear to me that as we were developing a curriculum on young women and leadership, we were also experiencing it first-hand -- I saw how everyone took part in this process. Some of the fellows were very vocal and organized, others were more restrained, but had brilliant insights. Some cracked jokes to break the tensions, others directed all their attention towards writing the scripts. It was the process that revealed so much for me -- not just about how to teach leadership, but also who I am as a leader. It was a journey we all took together, and day-by-day the word leader to me became increasingly complicated, but also increasingly clear.   President Spar on "Why India?"   Barnard Videos Barnard Photos     Mumbai, India Barnard College barnard-admin@digitalpulp.com America/New_York public

Global Symposium in Mumbai a Great Success

In March, the Athena Center traveled to Mumbai for the fourth annual Barnard College Global Symposium.   This day-long event, Women Changing India, brought together exceptional leaders in government, commerce, academia, media, and the arts.  

After introductory remarks from Mihir Doshi, Managing Director and CEO of Credit Suisse India, the event sponsor,  Barnard alumna Saloni Chand Jhaveri '86 and President Debora Spar, the 400+ members of an enthusiastic audience were treated to three interesting panels on social activism, entrepreneurship and cultural expression. 

The first panel of the day, Conversations on Social Activism, showcased women whose work is affecting change and improving conditions for women and children. Moderated by Athena Center Director, Kathryn Kolbert, the speakers included Kiran Bedi, India’s first and highest ranking woman police officer; Mirai Chatterjee, director of social security at the Self Employed Women’s Association; Shaheen Mistri, founder of Teach for India; and Gita Sen, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. 

The following panel, Voices of the Region, highlighted major contributors to arts and media in India. The speakers included Nandita Das, actress and activist; Mallika Kapur, CNN's international correspondent; Farah Khan, film director and choreographer; Brinda Somaya, architect and conservationist, and moderator Shayoni Mitra, assistant professor in Barnard’s Department of Theatre.

Empowering Women through Enterprise gathered high-profile leaders in business and government. Speakers included Vedika Bhandarkar, managing director and vice chairman of Credit Suisse India; Shaina NC, fashion designer and politician; Zia Mody, corporate lawyer and businesswoman and Chhavi Rajawat, Sarpanch of Soda. President Spar moderated.

On the day before the symposium, six Barnard students, including two Athena scholars,  led a leadership program with 100 local high school and college students, where they had the young women participate in a town hall simulation that the students developed.  Based on questions raised by redevelopment plans for a Mumbai slum, the Indian students played differing roles:  government workers, developers, people being forced to relocate, and had to present arguments in support of their views.  

Following the symposium, Director Kolbert travelled with 25 alumnae and friends to Jaipur, Agra and other locations in northern India. 

 

Women Changing India: A Student's Point of View

By Barnard Junior, Sara Lederman

The most ironic part was that, after 4 months of endless preparation and excitement, I arrived at the classrooms at the Cathedral School in Mumbai and realized I was not -- and had never really been -- the teacher. I had been the student all along, and now, looking in the faces of the 16 year-olds I was supposed to "teach," something finally clicked. The point of the workshops was not to teach in the traditional sense, but rather to facilitate and join an important, cross-cultural exploration of leadership. I was humbled by how articulate and poised all of the young women were. I was educated. 
 
For me, "leadership" had always been this buzz word that seemed to be everywhere, and yet at the same time, no where. We talk about it ad nauseum: what is a leader? Who is a leader? Why be a leader? The conversation, for me at least, became a bit too theoretical and abstract. The word leader seemed to become empty, and I grew cynical. But that changed in India.
 
Along with five other wonderful fellows, I had the opportunity to design a leadership workshop for high school girls in Mumbai with the guidance of Athena Director, Kathryn Kolbert. At first, I'll admit, I was a bit hesitant: how can we teach them what it means to be a leader? What does it even mean to be a leader as a young woman in India? There seemed to be a lot of questions and not a lot of time to develop the workshop. We decided that we wanted to take a risk and develop a plan that involved more improvisation on everyone's part with the hopes that a more active plan would allow the girls to take more ownership of the workshop. We created a simulation and hoped that the participants would become involved and inspired by it. But we couldn't control how these girls received the workshop, we could only influence them. Nothing about our curriculum was cut-and-dry or formulaic -- while we all entered our respective classrooms with the same guidebook and vision, we each facilitated 6 different simulations simply because we had 6 different groups comprised of unique personalities. 
 
As we began outlining our goals, it became clear to me that as we were developing a curriculum on young women and leadership, we were also experiencing it first-hand -- I saw how everyone took part in this process. Some of the fellows were very vocal and organized, others were more restrained, but had brilliant insights. Some cracked jokes to break the tensions, others directed all their attention towards writing the scripts. It was the process that revealed so much for me -- not just about how to teach leadership, but also who I am as a leader. It was a journey we all took together, and day-by-day the word leader to me became increasingly complicated, but also increasingly clear.

 

President Spar on "Why India?"

 

Barnard Videos

Barnard Photos