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Young Women Leaders In Public Policy Fellowship: S+Report

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Session Report
Riya Pawar

A National Winter School Program on Young Women Leaders in Public Policy Fellowship was organised by Gender Impact Studies Center, IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute. The 9th Session of this course was conducted from 6th January to 8th March. The session was convened by Dr. Arjun Kumar, Simmi Mehata, Prof. Gumadi Srideviji, and Adv Dr. Shalu Nigam. The course is conducted by esteemed women pioneers from varied fields with special guidance to emerging young Women Leaders.

In the 9th Session of the ‘Young Women Leaders in Public Policy Fellowship’, Prof. Sanjukta Bhattacharya, Retired Prof Jadavpur University. Nivedata P Haran, visiting distinguished fellow IMPRI, enlightened the panels with panes of Women Leadership in Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and Public Services.

The panel was chaired by Prof. Vibhuti Patel, who delivered the opening remark, underscoring an overview of the previous sessions conducted. She talked about the perks emerging out of participation of women in Diplomacy and Foreign Policy and women’s role in Negotiations. She stressed the importance of inculcating leadership qualities among women.

Women in Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and Leadership

Prof. Sanjukta Bhattacharya delivered the keynote address. The theme for her presentation was Women in Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and Leadership. She began by tracing the historical threads of women’s participation in Diplomacy starting from Catherine of Aragon. She noted the history of Indian Women in Diplomacy like Vijayalaxmi and how these women represented the newly independent India. She also highlighted the relegation of achievements, limiting them to archives of history. In the later part of her presentation, she raised concerns about the prevailing misogyny and glass ceiling in the world of Diplomacy. Prof. Bhattacharya noted that efforts are underway, as seen by the set intentions. However, there remains much more to be transformed.

She further highlighted a need for Feminist Foreign Policy. Feminist Foreign Policy prioritizes peace, gender equality, and environmental integrity. She illustrated with the instance of Gaza War, the hardships faced by women in happenings like wars. Viewing phenomena like wars from a women’s lens can help us transcend the boundaries of foreign Policy to address issues like rape, economic hardships, and ecological violence.

Women in Public Service

The theme of Dr. Nivedita P Haran’s presentation was Women in Public Service. She underlined that Public Services are not just limited to Civil Services but encapsulate anyone working for the socio-economic growth of the country. She first navigated through the fundamentals of Public Services and how public policy must be inclusive, coherent, and holistic. She highlighted the role of young women in public services. She backed her ideas with rational reasons of how women inclusion in public services can bring professionalism, diversity, multidimensionality, rationality, and risk-taking as a byproduct of women’s inclusion in public services. She noted that it is easier to develop leadership qualities in women than in men, making women more adaptable and dynamic leaders. However, women need support for inclusive participation because of existing household duties and responsibilities.

She further illustrated her argument with Case studies of Jatayu Park and Padmanabhaswamy pond. Jatayu Park was a hill that was used for illicit activities by men. In spite of the Police raids there, the activities continued. Women in that area approached her for a solution regarding this problem and they successfully converted it into a tourist spot with its religious significance. Further, she talked about the cronyism in Public Services and how women, by nature, being less cronyistic than men might aid the efficiency of Public Services. She presented a case study regarding the Padmaswamy Pond being leased out to a retired civil servant that was rented for commercial purposes. This led to instances of flooding. She initiated the cancellation of the lease without bearing hesitations despite the resistance from her male seniors and colleagues. She added that women are more observant than men. At the same time, their way of identifying problems that people face in day-to-day lives is a much more beneficial quality as a Public Servant. Prof. Patel, while presenting comments on her presentation, highlighted the perks of safety for women in Public Services.

The overarching theme and the presentations upheld the role of women in fields of foreign policy and diplomacy. The session convinced the participants that women leadership and participation in these domains are essential to bring about dynamism and innovation.

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