is a forum for conversations amongst activists and academics on issues relating to science and democracy.

Sharing Session – 33
The Personal is Political:
A continuing struggle for gender equality

Speaker: Dr. V Rukmini Rao
Date and Time: March 20, 2015, 1600 – 1800 hrs
Venue: CWS Conference Hall,
12-13-438, Street No. 1, Tarnaka, Secunderabad - 500017

Having experienced gender discrimination and vulnerability through her personal experiences Dr. V. Rukmini Rao decided to work with vulnerable women in 1975, starting her work in form of a research project to study the situation of women workers in public sector companies. Informally, at the same time, she also started working with women activist-friends in Delhi, to bring justice to families whose daughters were burnt to death for dowry. Since then her journey has intersected with several issues and raised many questions and challenges. How can ordinary citizens influence government? How can we impact the law making process?


Dr.Rukmini's work has seen her advocate the cause of poor women used as guinea pigs in the population control programme, challenging the introduction of Net-en and Norplant, studying the impact of Bhopal gas tragedy on pregnant women and challenging the introduction of HPV vaccine.

Working with dalit women at Deccan Development Society, learning about agriculture and developing leadership of rural women in partnership with them since 1990, Dr. Rukmini and colleagues have been experimenting and learning how to mainstream women’s issues in natural resource management. Over the years they have also tried to influence the government sector by making large scale training interventions and with its share of success and failures.

Considering that her work has spanned several fields like entrepreneurship, health, agriculture, ecology and education, with an emphasis on empowering women, Dr. Rukmini's journey shows that it is possible to usher in fundamental changes to promote gender equality provided men also join the struggle as equal partners. Her personal struggles and her decades-long contributions to civil society offer a tremendous learning opportunity.

Dr. V. Rukmini Rao is a social and rural development activist working with women at many levels of Indian Society but particularly with the poor, underprivileged and vulnerable. She is currently Managing Trustee of the Centre for World Solidarity (CWS) and on the Board of the Deccan Development Society (DDS). She is currently Executive Director, Gramya (Gramya Resource Centre for Women, which she founded). She is also a founding member and worked for many years with Saheli (Saheli Women’s resource Centre) in Delhi. She serves as a Core Group advisory member in KICS. Dr. V Rukmini Rao was recently named Woman of the Year, 2014 by The Week magazine.

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