Panel Discussion on
"Challenges women face in a globalizing world with a focus on India"
Date of the event: Sunday, July 29, 2007

Our Panelists
Professor of Anthropology
Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies (Chair)
Professor of Sociology

Synopsis: As 21st century unfolds, a new world order is shaping the destiny of people around the world. Religious fundamentalism and rampant consumerism are becoming the order of the day as economic globalization dominates all aspects of life on the planet.

Women are not a homogeneous group. While some women have benefitted because of these changes, most women who are marginalised on the basis of factors such as class, caste, race, along with gender are bearing the brunt of these changes and the challenges they face are indeed formidable.

In this panel discussion, the focus will be on women in India. The three panelists drawing upon their research and personal experience will discuss different aspects of the challenges faced by various segments of the female population.

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Personal Profile of Dr. Vanaja Dhruvarajan

Vanaja Dhruvarajan, -- Speaker at a panel discussionDr. Vanaja Dhruvarajan is a senior scholar and professor of Sociology at the University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is currently an adjunct professor at Carleton University in the Pauline Jewett Institute for Women’s Studies and the Department of Sociology. She completed her undergraduate education in India in 1959 and got her Masters and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago in 1964 and 1981 respectively. Her teaching and research interests include Globalization, Family and Socialization, gender, Anti-Racism and Knowledge Monopolies. She has done research in India and Canada and has published several articles and books, which include Hindu Women and the Power of Ideology, and Gender, Race and Nation: A Global Perspective (co-authored).

Dr. Dhruvarajan has served as president of Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association in 1998-2000, as president of Canadian Women’s Studies Assoiation in 1986-87, and as Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair n Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 1994-95. She has also served on the boards of several professional, university, Government and community organizations. In 2002, in recognition of her contributions to the University of Winnipeg, she was inducted as a fellow of United College. She was one of the recipients of YM/YWCA Woman of Distinction award in 1996.

A personal statement from Dr. Dhruvarajan: Over the years, I have promoted anti-racism and anti-sexism in my teaching, research, writing and community activism. Here I provide a few examples of such activities. I developed a course on “Women of Colour in Canada,” which I have taught several times. More recently, in 2004 I developed and taught a graduate level course “Knowledge Monopolies, Anti-racism and sexism in Higher Education” at the University of Toronto and taught it again in summer session of 2005. I taught an updated version of the same course at Carleton University in fall 2005 and 2006. I also developed a course titled “Gender and Race in the 21st century” and I taught this course for the department of Sociology at University of Ottawa. I have also written papers on the impact of knowledge monopolies in higher education and my contributions to feminist activism. I have organized conferences and colloquia on the topics of gender and race, and have given many talks to varied audiences. I am a founding member of Association of Researchers and Academics of Colour for Equality (R.A.C.E.) founded in 2005.

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Personal Profile of Ms. Amina Mire

Amina Mire, Speaker at a panel discussionMs. Amina Mire has a pharmacy diploma (from The Somali Institute of Health, 1980), A B.Sc. in Chemistry and B.A. in Philosophy (University of Winnipeg, 1994); and M.A. in Philosophy (University of Toronto), with strong emphasis in the philosophy of science and political theory.

She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education (OISE-UT) and the Women’s Studies in the Institute for Women’s Studies and Gender Studies of the University of Toronto.

Amina’s many publications include: “Skin-Bleaching: Poison, Beauty, Power, and the Politics of the Colour Line” in the Canadian based feminist journal "Resources for Feminist Research" (RFR/DRF/ Vol.28. No. 3/4/2001 winter/spring issue). Since its publication the work has been included in prestigious databases, such as The Wellcome Trust History of Medicine and CSA BiblioAlert. Amina has published a critically researched paper “Pigmentation and Empire” in a popular online site Counterpunch.org . Since its publication, “Pigmentation and Empire” has been picked by publications around the world.

Her doctoral dissertation “Soaping the Cells: Poison, and Skin-Whitening Biotechnology” examines the social, political and economic implications of the emerging practice of skin-whitening, and will be defended very soon. Amina Mire is currently a professor of contemporary Sociological Theory and Race and Ethnicity Studies at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of Carleton University.

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Personal Profile of Dr. Radhika Sekar

Dr. Radhika Sekar has a PhD in Religious Studies (Ottawa University), her thesis topic being in the field of the Globalization of Religion. She has a strong background in Anthropology and taught at the Department of Religion, Carleton University for ten years.

Currently a regular contributor to the Ottawa Citizen’s Ask the Religion Experts column Radhika now writes children’s picture books and has published two: Lord of Beginnings: Stories of the Elephant-headed Deity—Ganesha (Vakils, Feffer & Simons 2004) and Deepavali Stories from Around the World (ibid:2005). Her third book Hanuman is due this summer. Also interested in creative writing Radhika won the City of Ottawa 50+ Short Story Contest in 2003 and the CAA Short Story Contest in 2005.

Radhika also conducts workshops and seminars for youth on Hinduism, participates in multi-faith activities and is invited to read her books and speak on the writing process at area schools and libraries.

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