| The purpose of Module 4 is to provide
a framework for integrating women’s rights and concerns into ESC rights
This module should help trainees understand/clarify for themselves:
- gender ideology and the impact of a gender perspective on ESC rights;
- the principal relevant international treaties on women’s rights;
- some conceptual issues that may arise while integrating women’s rights;
- challenges and opportunities for integrating women’s rights in ESC
Poem: The following poem could be given for discussion in small
groups. Participants should discuss whether ESC issues faced by women
are different from those faced by men. If they are different, how are
they different and why? The idea is to facilitate a discussion on gender
and ESC rights.
Beasts of Burden
Our master’s farm is the biggest of all farms.
It’s our men who work like beasts of burden on our master’s farm.
I am carrying gruel for my hungry father toiling since morn.
I am learning to bear the burden
of a child on my hips and
a pot of gruel on my head
for, one day, not far off,
I have to walk on these field bunds
with a child in my belly and a child on my hips,
carrying gruel for my husband, working in these farms.
But there’s something
I’d like to know . . .
Who made the rule that
our heads be bowed and backs
always be bent, under burden?1
Using stories and proverbs: Participants can be asked to share
stories or proverbs as a basis for discussion on the question of the link
between women’s rights and ESC rights.
The following is a Garri folktale from northern Kenya that is used by
a women’s group in India in its education programs.
Thus God Judged the Women
Once upon a time, very long ago, God needed someone to help him with
something he wanted to get done. He turned to the women, who already
had their hands full even in those days. Just when they were sitting
making milk jugs and water basins and mats to cover the huts, God summoned
them, "Come here! I shall send you on an important mission.” The
women replied, "Yes, we are coming but wait a moment, we shall
just finish our work here.” After a while, God summoned them again.
"Wait a moment, we are nearly done. Let us just finish our mats
and jugs,” said the women.
The men did not have to milk, build houses, fetch wood and water as
the women did. Their only duty was to put up a fence and protect the
livestock. So, since at the moment they had nothing else to do, they
came running at God’s call and they said, "Send us instead, father.”
Then, God turned to the women and said, "Hereafter, women, your
chores will never be done. When one is completed, the next will be
waiting for you. Hence men may rest since they came at once when I called
but you women will have to work and toil with neither pause nor rest
till the day you die.”
And so it has been ever since.2
¨ Case study discussion: The following
case study could also be used for facilitating discussion on the question
of women and ESC rights. In small groups participants should discuss
the situation of Susheela and identify the gender elements involved in
Susheela Case Study
Susheela wiped the sweat from her brow as she hurried to finish making
the chapatties (bread). Her customers would soon be coming in for
the food and she had to be ready. They were just the few regulars,
labourers who lived in small shacks like herself in the neighbourhood.
Sometimes she would really feel sorry for herself, sweating it out
for the few rupees she made each day. How she wished she could have
moved to a different place, a better neighbourhood, with water facilities,
paved roads and even more a proper house.
Susheela thought to herself that one had to have luck in life. She
often thought of the small coconut husking factory she had worked until
six months ago. She had to work hard too then and her hands used to
burn at the end of the day. But at least she got a regular wage though
it was less than what the men got for the same work. What bad luck
the owners sold the factory to people with big money from the city.
The new owners wanted to bring modern machines to produce more in the
factory. Almost all the women lost their jobs. The new owners said
that women could not read and write and they cannot be given training
to work with the machines. The men were fortunate, they were to be
Susheela remembered her father saying to her when she was a child,
"Why send you to school, you will only end up married and working
in the kitchen.” He was right wasn’t he? That is where she was today-in
1. Taken from T.K.
Sundari Ravindran, "Subverting Patriarchy: Workshops for Rural
Women,” Rural Women’s Social Education Centre, Tamil Nadu, India.
3. Taken from IWRAW
Asia Pacific, Training Manual on the Convention Against All Forms
of Discrimination Against Women (Version: 1998).