A photojournalism project to unveil stories of women & the hidden role education plays in perpetuating gender stereotypes in India
What’s the project?
While majoring in Peace Studies at Naropa University, I became particularly interested in gender, early childhood education, human rights, and international development. It was here that my lifelong background in visual arts began to merge with my studies in unanticipated ways. This project is the tangible unification of the above.
During my last year at Naropa, an international affairs project gave birth to an evolving idea that education is not enough to empower and improve the quality of life for women. This radical realization was by accident; I had originally planned to explore the common notion that education improves the quality of life for women, their families, and communities. Most international development goals are aimed at bolstering the status of women and girls with the assumption that education and literacy are not only crucial, but are the best tools for their empowerment. The U.N. states that education provides women with “better jobs opportunities, higher wages, and decision-making power, all while reducing the gender gap.” However, in the state of Kerala, India where women have had access to free education for decades, this theory is not congruent with their experience.
I chose Kerala as my focus because it boasts having the highest literacy rate in India, due to free and accessible education since the 19th century. It is considered an exemplary state for international efforts in the education and gender field, ranking first in the Gender Empowerment Measure, and highest in the Human Development Index within India. There are many social indicators that attest to the impressive and rising literacy rates. Crude birth rates, mortality rates, and infant mortality rates have all decreased. However, when I dug a little deeper within the overtly good social indicators I found a variety of contradictions that were deeply unsettling. I found that Kerala is experiencing the highest unemployment rate (for men and women) in the country; Intimate partner violence (IPV) is also the highest and on the rise; and sadly, has the highest suicide rate in the country for both men and women.
While women in Kerala have been endowed with the benefits of an education—literacy, autonomy, and a sense of pride, they also live in a society that has been characterized by divisions of caste and gender for thousands of years. The data illuminates that something is drastically wrong here. How empowered are these highly educated women? Can we measure empowerment? If women are living in a patriarchal society, can education help to dispel some of the gender stereotypes for both men and women?
What is my goal?
My basic goal for this project is to create a window from which women’s voices and stories can be both heard and seen.
My secondary goals are aimed at building relationships with women and their families in hopes to grasp what is, and is not working in international development goals—specifically those of education and women’s empowerment. I want to explore the hidden role education plays in perpetuating gender stereotypes in this highly educated society by documenting the stories of these educated women. I do not have answers; but I do have many questions. I plan on sitting in rural classrooms, urban classrooms, universities, interview teachers, students, governmental officials to help understand this ongoing paradox.
What I Need to Make this Possible:
In order to make this project a reality I am seeking help to cover my expenses while in Kerala. *(Please note that I receive your donation only if my entire goal is met by the deadline.)*
My main expenses for this project include:
· Translator fees
· Visa fee
· Travel insurance for my gear
· Basic expenses while in Kerala
To cover these preliminary costs I need $3,000. However, I am only asking for $2400 because I will use my savings for the remainder. Anything raised in addition to my goal will be used for extending my time in Kerala.
I truly appreciate your help in creating this unique opportunity to explore gender, education, and social transformation in this internationally renowned state in India. Your help is going towards the research needed to fundamentally change the way we view social development, education, and women’s empowerment—three of the most targeted areas for international funding, as well as three areas I am incredibly passionate about.
It is my fervent hope that your donation, will begin to pave the way for women and men, girls and boys, to experience authentic empowerment through cultivating a more holistic perspective for gender equality, empowerment and education not merely within India, but throughout the world.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
pledged of $2,400 goal
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Feb 18, 2012 - Mar 17, 2012 (28 days)
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Effervescent Karma!Estimated delivery: Apr 2012
Pledge $12 or more
A warm thank you email + updates from the projectEstimated delivery: Aug 2012
Pledge $24 or more
A customized thank you postcard featuring an image from the project + updatesEstimated delivery: Aug 2012
Pledge $50 or more
A personal thank you postcard + a set of 4 postcards with original images from the project for your own use + project updatesEstimated delivery: Aug 2012
Pledge $100 or more
A personal thank you + a set of 8 postcards with one of a kind images from the project + project updatesEstimated delivery: Aug 2012
Pledge $250 or more
All the benefits listed above + an 8x10 high quality print of your choice either from the project or my website + project updatesEstimated delivery: Aug 2012
Pledge $500 or more
0 backers Limited (3 of 3 left)
Everything listed above + a full photo-shoot session with me, including a set of high quality prints of your choice + project updatesEstimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $1,000 or more
0 backers Limited (1 of 1 left)
Besides awesome karma, you will get a thank YOU postcard + set of 8 original postcards for your own use + an 8x10 image of your choice + a full personalized photo-shoot with me + a hardcover coffee table book with all images and stories from the project + personalized project updatesEstimated delivery: Sep 2012