The KIS Center for Environment and Society recently conducted a two-day workshop on Women Empowerment and Eco-feminism. It was part of the Center’s ongoing efforts in the Kodaikanal community to spread more awareness about the biodiversity of the Palani Hills. The workshop was organized for 45 girls from rural Kodaikanal, who are students at the Kodai Grihini Community College. Grihini College’s mission is to meet the educational needs of poorly educated young women across villages in the Palani Hills. Some of the students had previously worked as street sweepers, agricultural and building laborers.
The purpose of the workshop was to empower these girls with environmental and financial literacy, so that they can make environmentally-conscious decisions. For example, water scarcity would make household chores difficult and rural women may be forced to walk great distances to get water for the family. Through the workshop, the topics on eco-feminism highlighted the strength and role these girls can play in protecting the environment and conserving natural resources.
Our Grade 10 Social Experience (SoEx) students were also involved in the workshop, interacting with the participants and also presenting some of their social and environment projects. Hanna from the Class of 2021 remarked, “This program of empowering rural village girls, really opened my eyes to the lives of other people. We can often forget how privileged and lucky we are, and what we did at the workshop reminded us of this.”
The workshop was designed through a collaborative effort between Dr. Rajamanikam, member of the KIS Social Experience Department and a KIS Staff Alumni and Principal at Grihini College, Ms. Dency Michael. “Grihini is a family and in that family I am an Akka (older sister). We are committed to helping the last of the least, the poor in the villages who are thought to be unintelligent. Workshops such as these add much value and provide greater opportunity for these women. The involvement of the KIS community in Grihini, especially the students, cannot be understated,” shares Ms. Dency.
The workshop was designed to include lectures and interactive sessions on a variety of topics, ranging from Financial Literacy to Climate Change. The owner of the Pine Dale Nursery, Ms. Ashitha Jayapradeep, provided insight on Women Entrepreneurship and shared her journey of establishing and running a business. The workshop included a nature trail to the Bombay Shola, where the young women were introduced to native trees, birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Not only they were excited to see some wildlife, they also voluntarily contributed to the efforts of removing trash from the Shola road.
Members of the KIS Social Experience Department talked to the students about eco-feminism, the environment and highlighted the unique biodiversity of the Palani Hills. Grade 10 students taught participants some self-defense and basketball techniques. Sarah (Class of 2021), who gave a powerful presentation in Tamil on personal hygiene, remarked that “It was an honor sharing this information with the girls and I really hope it was beneficial to them. I had a great time and would love to have the opportunity to do it again”.