Though women-specific courses are yet to gather momentum in India, Delhi University’s certificate course in Gender and Society has taken small, yet effective steps, to make sure the subject is not excluded from mainstream.
Run by Women Studies Development Centre (WSDC), North Campus, the course has been trying to promote an understanding of the status of women in India, subject to class, creed, religion and ethnic divides. The course, that began five years ago, is being offered at certificate level in six colleges across DU. It, however, has received a mixed response from students.
“We started this course a couple of years ago, thinking it will find takers. But there has been a lukewarm response from students. In the academic year 2010-11, only six students opted for the course,” said Indu Anand, Principal, Janki Devi Memorial College. The course is self-financing, with a fee of Rs 3,000. “There was no point in investing in a course which has few takers. So we have decided to discontinue it from this year,” added Anand.
However, in other colleges, take for instance Jesus and Mary, this course has become a favourite among students. “The Women Studies Development Centre of JMC is one of the six compulsory societies of the college, open for membership only to girls from second and third year. While last year, the society had about 180 to 200 students, about 25-30 opted for the course,” said Amita Tiwari, associate professor, Jesus and Mary College.
“A certificate in this subject will help students venture into fields like Masters in Social Work and other NGO-related activities in later stages of their careers,” Tiwari added.
The WSDC also offers an advanced diploma and a post-graduate course in gender studies. These courses were introduced six years ago and have received a good feedback. “But the number of students who drop out midway is high as this is an add-on course,” said Vibha Chaturvedi, director, WSDC. In the last academic year, about 30 students enrolled themselves in the centre.
Students feel that a revision in the curriculum must be introduced to make the course more relevant. “I thought the syllabus was interesting but a course like this must provide well-rounded international exposure, which is absent.
Otherwise, we won’t understand India’s position more holistically. I would not want to pursue the course till this happens,” said Priyanka Sharma, a DU student.