By Sumedha Sharma, ASPBAE Programme Coordinator
The Asia Pacific Regional Workshop on Gender, Education, Skills and work starts tomorrow
in New Delhi, India. 52 participants from 18 countries will be participating in the 4 day
workshop being co-hosted by ASPBAE and one of its members, Azad Foundation.
It has been an exciting journey from the time the idea was conceptualised during a small team meeting of ASPBAE to this stage where such a large gathering will talk about education, skills, and work from a gendered lens.
The idea germinated from discussions on TVET and skill building and a deeper reflection on how relevant are the skills imparted to young girls and women. We at ASPBAE felt that there is a need to look at the existing literacy and life skills education programmes and TVET programmes offered in different countries and review if they address the issues of gender discrimination and gender stereotyping. Are the skills offered to women different from those to men? Are women encouraged to learn skills that fall in the traditional domain which believes that women can do some jobs better such as healthcare, tailoring, communication, education, etc.? And men can do the others better. This demarcation of skills and roles has an impact on the social and economic empowerment of women, whose engagement in the job market has not been equal to men. There is a glass ceiling that women hit when the choices for them are limited, and capacities not built to the optimum.
Some members of ASPBAE are actively engaged on issues of gender, skill building, and TVET, Azad Foundation being one of them. And it was most appropriate that Azad Foundation agreed to co-host this workshop, as their aim of is to work towards a world where all women, in particular women from resource-poor backgrounds, enjoy full citizenship, earn a livelihood with dignity, and generate wealth and value for all. Through its “Women on Wheels” programme, Azad has helped women enter the transport sector which has been and continues to be very male dominated. It has succeeded in creating a pool of active women drivers in the community.
The timings for this discussion align with the preparations of civil society organisations to influence their national policies and programmes to support the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Gender, skills, and TVET feature prominently in these goals especially SDG 4, 5, and 8.
It’s also timely in the Southeast Asia region, where in the midst of ASEAN integration, to locate the issues of gender and skills in the context of integration, cross-border movements, and decent work.
It will be interesting to see how the discussions unfold in the next few days. The organisers and facilitators for this workshop have tried their best to cover as many aspects as possible on gender, education, skills, and work with the objective to start a meaningful and continuous dialogue on this issue.
The journey has begun and it has been an enjoyable process so far, from conceptualising the idea to the eve of the workshop. As one of the members of the facilitating and organising team, I have felt grateful all through the process, from the support and enthusiasm shown and offered by participants, resource persons, and ASPBAE members. The initial planning started keeping in mind a group of 35 participants – we are 52 now. There have been emails from participants and facilitators offering support where required and willingness to take additional work as required.
There are some workshops where one feels the energy levels high, a great deal of interest, and enthusiasm on the topic to be discussed and the country to be visited. And this is one of those workshops.
We will be visiting 3 organisations working on skill building and I would like to mention that 2 of them are not ASPBAE members and have not known Azad Foundation and ASPBAE earlier. However, the support and willingness to host our participants at their organisation is greatly appreciated.
Participants have started to arrive, picked up by women chauffeurs of Sakha Cabs (a sister wing of Azad Foundation). It will be a first time for many to travel in a woman cab service, and few have posted about that on Facebook as well.
Keep watching this space as other participants share each day about the workshop.