Poetry Book on Amazon

‘Vulcan Bides in Moonlight: Collected Poems 2012 – 2017’ is now available for purchase on Amazon.



Gender Inequality: A Discourse Equally Relevant in Developing and Developed Nations

It was a privilege to have gotten a chance to interact with Mr Christopher Gibbins, the Consul General of Canada in Chandigarh. His talk on the need for gender equality being equally relevant in developed and developing countries was inspiring. Especially considering the undermining of the feminist movement and its true spirit in developed countries (such as the U.S.A.) This skewing of an originally sound and highly relevant discourse makes me very sad and apprehensive as it sidetracks the discourse of feminism, subverts the public opinion, and seriously sabotages the efforts towards creating gender equality in developing countries where it is an urgent need at a very rudimentary level of the standard of living and the fundamental rights of women.

Shabnam Kaur

Talk on Feminism/ Women Empowerment/ Gender Equality

I interacted with Mr Christopher Gibbins, Consul General of Canada in Chandigarh. He made a great and very pertinent speech on feminism/ women empowerment/ gender equality at our college today. These were the main points:
1. Gender inequality is a problem not just in developing countries such as India but also in developed countries such as Canada.

2. Men are also affected by discrimination against women, as men are also pigeonholed into fixed roles in society. So when women are not allowed the freedom to choose the roles they want to play in society, men also suffer because they get pushed into certain types of roles and hence their freedom to choose other roles is also taken away.

3. In business and corporate settings women are still not allowed to advance in the same way as men, even in developed countries such as Canada. 

4. Canada’s P.M. Trudeau identifies as a feminist and desires Canada to progress as a feminist country. There is equal representation of men and women in his government. However the parliament still has a much lower representation of women than men. This fact that men and women are equally represented in the government was much discussed in Canadian news as if it were a surprising fact. Whereas it is what ought to be in any society, as women and men being two equal moieties of a population deserve equal representation in all areas including the government. So, this should not be surprising to people. The fact that it surprised the public means that Canada still has a long way to go in the direction of gender equality. 

5. Men often feel threatened by women being allowed to enter all professional arenas, especially the ones that have been historically denied to them. The reason for this might be that they feel their jobs will be taken over by women and hence fewer men will get employment. They see it as a threat to their employment as employments are already quite limited and it is a very competitive arena. However, gender equality goes hand in hand with economic development as giving women job opportunities actually helps create more employment rather than reducing it, as new areas of employment might emerge from such an endeavour.

6. Bangladesh is viewed as a less developed nation than India. However, the human development indexes for Bangladesh have been much better than India in recent years. A key reason for this is that Bangladesh has taken concrete measures for the empowerment and development of women.

7. Hence, gender equality is the path that will lead us all towards more development, irrespective of gender. Empowering women benefits both genders, frees both the genders from the shackles of their fixed social roles, and creates tangible holistic development inclusive of both genders in society.

Shabnam Kaur

Higher Education in India

I organised a group discussion and extempore declamation in my class today on the topic “How can we make women in rural areas better aware of menstrual hygiene? How can we create a better waste disposal system for menstrual waste.” I teach a range of students compulsory English as part of their graduation courses (from all streams – sciences, humanities, commerce and economics) and even an Applied Linguistics class to students pursuing a master’s degree in English. The students in my class are mostly middle-class with very limited competence in English. But they come from as far and wide as Afghanistan, Ladakh, and Manipur. And it is moments like these that make me love it, and give me relentless energy to do what I do every single day: the look on the faces of these young women (full of so much unfulfilled potential because they haven’t been exposed to quality basic education) when they learn a new concept, or an interesting word or fact, or when a taboo is broken and they get a glimpse of the world in a light in which they have never seen it before and probably never even imagined to. It gives me hope that even within this mediocre system of education I can do my part to spark something vital and original in these young women who deserve a chance at breaking the shackles of their limited exposure.
Shabnam Kaur