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Women Empowerment and Eco-feminism in the Palani Hills

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”.

Photo Albums, Third Quarter of the Academic Year 2018-19

We are happy to share with you some of our favorite photographs from the KIS community during the past quarter.

Tahr Camps – Middle and High School
Republic Day 2019

Alumni Weekend
Obstacles Off-Course
KIS Unplugged
Interact Club Installation by Rotary Kodaikanal
Spirit Week – February 2019
Elementary School Fun Day
Elementary School Talent Show

Photo Albums, First Semester of the Academic Year 2018-19

The KIS community had an action-filled first semester with fun & excitement. We are happy to share with you some of our favorite photographs.

KIS Care Week

Grade 10 Camp

Carnival

Independence Day Celebrations

Writers’ Workshop

Fall Festival

Dorm Dance Competition

NHS Talent Show

Spirit Week

Kodai Open Basketball Tournament

Christmas Banquet

 

KIS Awarded for Excellence in Environmental Awareness

Kodaikanal International School (KIS) joined the Green Schools Alliance in 2014, and has been committed to be a pioneer for environment protection and sustainability in the region. This has led to KIS receiving the Award for Excellence in Environmental Awareness from the International Aqua Foundation, which is given for significant achievement at the national or international level for Environment, including Water, Energy, Earth Sciences, Pollution Control, and Sustainability Solutions.

For this Award, KIS was recognized for its vital role of promoting Environment Awareness and Enhancing Water Efficiency. It was the only school amongst a number of government agencies, NGOs, corporations, and individuals nominated for the various awards. Clarence Maloney (Class of 1952) was asked by KIS to go and receive the award, at the XII World Aqua Congress, held in New Delhi on November 22-23.

In recent years, KIS has easily moved to emphasize modern environment issues, such as energy, water, recycling, and biodiversity, because of its long emphasis on nature. The school’s various academic, social, and community projects, and especially its Hiking and Camping Program, are well known for encouraging students to experience nature. “Students should develop a respect for the environment, both in terms of understanding individual and collective impacts, and as agents of change toward a healthier and more sustainable planet,” says Clarence Maloney.

In January 2016, KIS was recognized by the Green Schools Alliance as a Green School of the Month, for its achievements as regards solar panels, solar water heaters, water purifiers, roof water collection, groundwater recharge, drinking fountains, sewage treatment and re-us; also for trash recycling and composting, sholai (native) tree planting, waste flat paper re-use, etc. As a part of the holistic KIS education, all students take practical coursework in the Social and Environment Experience Department (SEED) on topics such as water resources, energy conservation, food waste, plastics, and global warming and are required to perform community service (installation of smokeless stoves, composting, native tree planting, sorting recyclable, clean-up around town, etc.).

Students can take the International Baccalaureate (IB) course, “Environmental Systems and Society” for a higher level of awareness. Also, many of them conduct their IB Senior Research projects on environment issues, such as anti-virus resistance and anti-fungal resistance in lake water, water quality below the town dump, effect of chemical fertilizers, and vermiculture of food waste.

These Palani Hills are a “sky island” at 2200m altitude, part of the Western Ghats which is one of the most biodiverse but threatened areas of the world, and has the large Kodaikanal Wildlife Reserve. KIS collaborates with the Forest Department, Municipality, and local schools and societies such as the Palani Hills Conservation Council, and INTAC. The school also has a 140-acre campsite, where students learn more about vegetation change and wildlife.

KIS is now setting up an Environment Education Center, where students, tourists, and researchers, can learn more about the ecology of these hills, as well as world issues of warming and ocean rise. This Center will be self-sufficient in energy, water, sewage treatment, and recycling, as an example.

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