Thursday, May 26, 2011

Essay contest - Women and climate change - Due June 1

Call for papers

The role of human activity in accelerating climate change is beyond doubt. The fourth assessment report (4AR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), confirmed that overwhelming scientific evidence links impact of human activity to climate change and unless action to significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases is taken, the world is on a path to runaway warming.

Why is it so important to integrate gender aspects into debates on climate change?

Climate change and climate impacts are not gender neutral. Gender equality is a critical component of responses to climate change at all levels - it should be integrated in all aspects of climate change planning and decision making.

At first glance, it might seem unintuitive to link climate change and gender issues. However, since societies still largely rely on gendered roles and responsibilities, both sexes do not have the same impact on climate change, and perhaps more importantly, are differently affected by it.

Women are disproportionately affected

Gender aspects of climate change are a matter of justice, human rights, and human security. Women are the poorest people in the poorest areas. Moreover, several studies indicate that the death rate in natural disasters can be four times higher for women. We have compelling data on how women are more vulnerable to climate change. It is thus important to be committed to gender sensitive approaches. We must adapt the mechanisms in place so that they reduce, or at least do not increase the gender issues.

Women empowerment and women's role

Women are change agents on both household and community levels with regard to natural resource management. Women are long-time leaders on poverty eradication and sustainability, and gender equality is a key issue in the climate change debate. If we do not implement gender-sensitive policies to fight the climate change, it will have disastrous consequences on the gender balance.

On the other hand, if we include and empower women, who are often responsible for agriculture, food and water supply, as well as first education of the next generation, we will do a better job in addressing the climate change and its consequences.

Mainstreaming the gender perspective is not only a sensible choice for our societies; it is a better, more efficient way to reach our goals.

Because this subject is at the very core of our preoccupations as members of the Green Party, we need to have better information and understanding on this subject, and answer these questions:

How can we counteract the disproportionate burden of climate change on women? How to empower women so that they become a key partner in reducing climate change?

How can gender equality be fully integrated into climate policies?

We encourage everyone to send us a paper with ideas and propositions on these issues.


By taking part in the contest, participants agree on the terms of participation.

How and when to hand in my paper?

All papers have to be sent per e-mail to before 1 June 2011, midnight. Papers sent after the deadline will not be accepted.

Who can apply?


Do I have to be a European citizen?
No, contributions from around the world are welcome.

About languages
Papers can be written in one of the four following languages: English, French, German and Spanish.

What kind of paper?

Papers should have the written form of an essay.

How long should the paper be?
Papers should be between 20.000 and 28.000 characters (with spaces) long.

How should it be presented?

Papers should be typed. No handwritten paper will be accepted.

What will happen next?

A jury made up of Green Members of the European Parliament, representatives of the European Green Party, the Federation of Young European Greens, Green Foundations, EGGO (European Green Gender Observatory) and NGOs will select the best essays.

Depending on the number of papers submitted, a pre-jury might do a pre-selection for the final jury.

What is the prize for the winner?

First of all, the best three essay writers will be invited to the Green Summer University in Frankfurt (Oder) and Slubice (1). This invitation includes transportation costs, hotel room for three nights and meals for the four days

The best essays will also be published in their original language and English, with a preface from Members of the Parliament and members of the jury. This book will be printed out and distributed during the University (to be confirmed depending on printing delays). The winners will get 10 copies each.

An event will be organised for the winners to read their essays to a selected audience, followed by a private dinner with members of the jury.

(1) The Summer University is an annual European event organized by the Green Party. Last year, it brought together almost 1000 people from all walks of life. Greens and non-Greens, NGO representatives, scientists, managers and trade unionists, intellectuals and artists, students and other young people attended 4 plenary sessions and 46 workshops, 10 cultural events and 10 excursions.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Check out this blog post by Sapna on the 10x10 project's blog

10x10 is a global movement for girls' education - a film and social action campaign. They learned about WAVE because Sapna was part of World Pulse's Voices of Our Future training program and asked her to guest write a blog.

Read the post here.

Now all of you reading are invited to guest write a blog for Wave ;)

International Day of Action for Women's Health May 28

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Study in Italy - Pavia scholarship - deadline May 30

Established in the year 1361, University of Pavia in Lombardy, Italy is one of the oldest universities in Europe. The university has a history of promoting international cooperation by offering scholarships in various degree courses to students from developing and low-income countries under its Fund for Knowledge and Cooperation (FC&K) program.

During the academic year 2011-12, University of Pavia is offering 51 scholarships amounting to 1,000 Euro per month to students coming from the developing countries. However preference will be given to the scholars from the countries classified as low-income economies or Lower-middle-income economies by the World Bank. Under this scholarship program, the students have the option to study at the University of Pavia or at the Institute for Advanced Study of Pavia (IUSS).

Expenses against visa fee and travel will also be borne by the university. Though, the students who have already received scholarship under the FC&K program during the academic year 2011-12 can also apply for the scholarship during the year 2011-12, but they are not eligible for getting visa fees and travel expenses.


The scholarships to successful candidates will be awarded as per the following norms:

1. Successful candidates will have to confirm their acceptance of the scholarship and of its conditions within the within the time limit set in the letter communicating the awarding of the scholarship. If a candidate fails to confirm his/her acceptance, the scholarship will be awarded to the following candidate in rank;

2. Once received the declaration of acceptance of the scholarship, the University of Pavia will:

  • send a prepaid travel ticket to Italy and provide for the travel expenses back to the developing country. Visa requirements will be care of the candidate, and will be reimbursed upon presentation of appropriate receipts;
  • provide the candidate with the scholarship according to the final decision of the Commission: monthly installments of 1.000 Euros each (the number of installments assigned to each successful candidate will be decided by the Commission);
  • arrange an accommodation in one of the University Residences of Pavia (lodging expenses will have to be paid by the candidate; if the candidate does not accept the proposed lodging, s/he will have to find another one by him/herself);
  • provide a card for meals at University canteens (the candidate will get the student discount for the meals, which will be at his/her expense);
  • guarantee all the facilities required during the period of residence – libraries, computer facilities, etc., including all the services of the Faculty which the student is associated with;
  • help the candidate to settle through the services offered for free by the Welcome Point of the University of Pavia, which will provide also the information about applying for a student residence permit.

3. Insurances will be direct care of the selected candidates. In particular, health insurance might be bought by the candidate before leaving the country of origin, being this usually mandatory while applying for the Visa.

The deadline to submit the application form for this FC&K scholarship program is May 30, 2011.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Teaching women in slums to make biodegradable sanitary napkins!

What a great idea - congrats to the NGO SIFE in Delhi for winning first place at the Dell Social Innovation Honours for this idea!

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab to be held in India in March 2012!

Here’s an incredible opportunity for all aspiring scriptwriters. Mumbai Mantra Media Limited has collaborated with Sundance Institute, founded by Robert Redford, to organize the first Screenwriter’s Lab in India which will be entirely modelled on the Sundance Lab which is held in Park City, Utah every year.

In the past, Sundance Institute has supported projects like Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Walter Salles’ Central Station, Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry, and Joshua Marston’s Maria Full of Grace, among many others. This initiative fulfills the Mumbai Mantra's desire to help Indian storytellers achieve their fullest potential and assist them to develop stories that resonate to a larger audience in India and internationally.

The Lab (planned in March 2012) will be a 5-day workshop that will give the Indian screenwriters an opportunity to work intensively on their script with Creative Advisors, who would be established screenwriters and filmmakers from around the world. Scripts could be in any Indian language including English. However, the application for the Lab will only be accepted in English. The applications are open till June 1 and after this the screenwriters will have atleast 3 more months to send in their complete script. Only 6-8 screenwriters will be selected for this workshop. Please note that there is no submission/ registration fee involved in this. Application details and a detailed FAQ is available on

Monday, May 9, 2011

Moushumi Basu publishes third story on Radio Netherlands website

The story reveals the sorry state of India's largest salt-water lake Chilika in Orissa where 'prawn mafia' are chasing out traditional fishermen by laying enclosures and farming lucrative prawns so other fish cannot thrive in the same waters. The state is colluding with the mafia which haven't been restrained in spite of court orders. Now the traditional fishermen are launching a 'do or die' campaign to take down the prawn enclosures!

Read the full story here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fight poverty, invest in girls - UNESCO

Bangkok, 29 April 2011 – If we are serious about making a real, positive change to society, we need to make a firm commitment to a long-term investment in girls’ and women’s education. This potential investment offers high returns, including accelerated social and economic progress, and the unique power to break the cycle of poverty.

A successful educational process will afford, women and men, girls and boys, the same entitlements to all aspects of human development, including economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights; the same level of respect; the same opportunities to make choices; and the same level of power to shape the outcomes of these choices.

This week we will mark Global Action Week (2-8 May), an annual event commemorated worldwide to highlight the importance of Education for All. Let’s use this important occasion to take a closer look at this year’s theme: Gender Equality in Education. Education leads to profound life-changing choices.

However, in this advanced age of the 21st Century, over 39 million girls in the Asia-Pacific region, who do not have access to a primary-level education, are still denied this fundamental human right.

Inequality in education cripples the lives of millions of girls and women around the world. While the rights of women have made significant progress, women are still second-rate citizens in too many countries today. According to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) statistics, women perform 66 per cent of the world’s work; help to produce 50 per cent of global food output; but earn less than 10 per cent of the global income and own just one per cent of the global property stock.

Although the gender gap in education has narrowed over the past decade, girls are still at a disadvantage, particularly in their access to upper secondary education. Women in South Asia, for example have only half as many years of education as their male counterparts, and female enrolment rates at the upper secondary level are two-thirds of those of males.

Illiteracy does not look good on a work resume. Yet, the latest United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) statistics show that in South and West Asia, on average, only one in two women could read and write. In stark contrast, approximately seven out of ten men can do so. In East-Asia and the Pacific, a staggering 74.5 million women are illiterate, representing 71 per cent of total 105 million adults.

These issues go to the heart of UNESCO’s mission; promoting a quality education for all, including women and girls. Education is critical to laying the foundations for gender equality and the empowerment of women. This includes supporting quality education from early childhood education, through to primary and secondary levels and up to tertiary and vocational training.

Achieving equality in primary and secondary education is critical to overcoming development challenges and structural discrimination. However, equality goes beyond the enrolment of the equivalent number of boys and girls. True equality must include the education process and its outcomes. It must improve on three axes: curriculum; the learning and physical environment; and the quantity and quality of teachers.

Still today, in many developing countries, the fate of most women’s prospects lies in getting married, procreating when still very young, and then tending to their families. This starts at adolescence when many girls are busy looking after their siblings, cooking, cleaning, and doing mundane household chores, while their chances of going to school, or receiving medical care, are much lower than their male counterparts.

Adolescence is a critical stage; if a girl pursues the course dictated by poverty, she will be obliged to abandon her schooling and she will almost certainly get married at an early age or become pregnant. The depressing statistics show that in developing countries, an estimated 25 to 50 per cent of adolescent girls are mothers before they reach the age of 18. It is depressing because, as an uneducated mother lacking life and labour skills, this girl will be less likely to work or earn an income, less likely to stand up for her rights, and less likely to have an influence in the household and in public life. Moreover, she will be more vulnerable to sexual violence and HIV infection.

Every year, according to UNFPA, 14 million adolescent girls give birth. This is the root to the astounding fact that the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 result from complications from pregnancy. Adolescent girls are also two to five times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than women in their twenties, and their babies are 1.5 times more likely to die before their first birthday. Each sad story, multiplied by millions of girls, consigns entire communities and nations to chronic poverty and poor health. There is an alternative, if a girl continues her schooling and learns life skills, she will marry later, have fewer, healthier children, earn a higher salary and be more likely to send her children to school.

Investing in girls’ education is the right thing to do. Women represent half the population, “hold up half of the sky”, and should have their rightful share in making the decisions that affects their lives and their countries. Women and girls are half of the human capital available to decrease poverty and attain development. However, without education they are unable to fully participate in pursuing these targets. Investing in girls’ education is also the intelligent approach as it makes simple economic sense. Nationwide, each additional year of schooling raises average annual gross domestic product growth by 0.37 per cent. An added year of school increases girls’ eventual wages by 10 per cent, reduces the probability of infant mortality by 10 per cent, and decreases female fertility rates by 10 per cent. Moreover, when girls and women earn income, they reinvest 90 per cent of it in their families, as opposed to 30 to 40 per cent for men.

Therefore, an investment in girls’ education is possibly the best investment that can be made in the developing world. Girls are a powerful transformative force and, if given the opportunity, hold the key to a better future.

Let’s use the occasion of Global Action Week to raise the critical need to invest our time, energy, thought and funding in girls’ and women’s education. Let us strive to equally support the realization of the full potential of all of our children; girls, and boys alike. It is about the lives of over one billion women and girls in the Asia-Pacific region and the countless more lives that are affected by them. It is about coming out of poverty. It is about our collective global future.

Source: Scoop World
Published: May 1, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Clean Tech Media Award deadline May 15

The Clean Tech Media Award is given to encourage and enhance public awareness and raise ecological and economical consciousness and commitment to promote green technologies. The award bridges the gap between entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians, artists, media representatives and consumers and raises awareness and boosts the popularity of the sustainable revolution. The Clean Tech Media Award 2011 takes place the 16th of September at Hansestadt Hamburg; 2011th Green Capital. In proper celebratory style the awards will be given away in the five categories i.e. Energy, Communication, Young Scientist, Lifestyle and Mobility.

Award Categories:

Energy: The category is going to honour the production, distribution, storage and use of resource saving or pollutant-free energy sources to protect the environment. The category will mainly focus on Solar, Wind, and Water and geothermal energy.

Communication: This category aims to honour the celebrities and organizations that fight against climate change and thus are making climate protection and Clean Tech even more popular. The outcome can be as diverse as e.g. marketing campaigns or cultural initiatives, TV spots, radio-shows and movies etc.

Mobility: Pioneering innovations in the resource saving mobility field –in the air, on water or on the ground, are rewarded in this category.

Lifestyle: The lifestyle category awards technologies that make it possible to obtain an ecological consumption- and life-style without abandoning high quality standards.

Young Scientist: This category honours young scientists who present innovative scientific research results, which can provide solutions for climate protection, and thus contribute to economic growth.

Deadline for project submission: May 15th, 2011

Source Link:
Copyright©FUNDSFORNGOS.ORG. Do not remove this link.
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Surprise, doubt and confusion: Pakistan’s reaction to bin Laden killing

In the 48 hours following the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death in Pakistan, the country’s government and United States officials have done a strange public dance about Pakistan’s role leading up to the mission.

By Sara Nics (South Asia Wired/Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

Bin Laden was killed in an all-American operation, according to US officials. In a brief press release on Monday, Pakistan’s government reinforced that point, despite earlier confused statements about whether or not the country had been involved.

On Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign affairs ministry released a much longer statement that “categorically denied” any prior knowledge about the attack.

The statement said, “As far as the target compound is concerned, ISI [Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence] had been sharing information with CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009. The intelligence flow indicating some foreigners in the surroundings of Abbottabad, continued till mid April 2011.”

Skepticism and theories
A wide range of theories are circulating about the motivations behind the US-Pakistan pas-de-deux. At one end of the spectrum is the speculation that Pakistan knew about the operation but is afraid of reprisals from Al-Qaeda if they admit involvement. Other commentators theorise that parts of Pakistan’s administration were protecting bin Laden and his family, and the government is now trying to cover it up.

Regardless of where the truth lies, there is one key point on which Pakistan and the US agree publicly: Osama bin Laden is dead. But not everyone is convinced.

Corpse photo
Some people in Abbottabad, where Osama apparently lived for a few years, are speculating that bin Laden was not killed on Sunday, says Suzanna Koster, South Asia Wired’s correspondent in Pakistan. “The local paper is also saying that it’s all American propaganda,” she reports.

Koster says many of the local residents she has talked with will only believe that bin Laden is dead when they see a photo of his corpse. Although some media outlets published a photo purportedly of bin Laden’s body, the picture was quickly labeled a fake.

War on terror
But some residents also believe that the death of Osama bin Laden should mark the end of America’s war on terror in the region.

“We are relieved,” says Kamran, one of the many Pakistanis who exchange the hot summer sun for the relative coolness of Abbottabad. “We hope this war ends now in Afghanistan. This search and raids should end, you know. That is how we feel. NATO has been blaming Osama, but he’s gone now. So leave the rest of the world in peace. We want peace. Everybody wants peace”.

Mohammad Ilyas, standing near the sealed area around Osama bin Laden’s house, echoes the sentiment of many people in the village when he says that the US is lying about his death. “We don’t know if he’s dead or alive. President Obama also doesn’t know as he’s in [Washington] and not here. I think the US is lying to the world.”

Military patrols have kept the streets of Abbottabad largely quiet since bin Laden’s killing. The area has now been cordoned off for the media. In Karachi, however, some people took to the streets yesterday to offer funerary prayers for bin Laden. In Quetta, close to the border with Afghanistan, people reportedly rallied to condemn bin Laden’s killing.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Journalist manhandled by mining goons in Goa on International Press Freedom Day

Panaji, Goa. The Goa Union of Journalists(GUJ), in a press note issued
after an executive committee meeting held in Panaji on Tuesday,
condemned in strong words the high handed action of security staff of
mining company in Cauverm on Tuesday to detain, ill-treat, manhandle
Goan Observer journalist Gary Azavedo who had gone to cover the
on-going agitation against mining companies at Cavrem.

It is all the more shocking that this incident was taking place in
south Goa on a day when the GUJ members where busy in a function to
celebrate the International Freedom of the Press Day in Panaji. It
raises the serious question of freedom of press in the State.

If the mining company security felt that the journalist had
trespassed, the most legitimate course of action should have been to
lodge a police complaint and not to “shove the journalist in a jeep by
security personnel by force, manhandle him, threaten him to off-load
his camera, tear his bag, confiscate his cell and then leave him
stranded to walk back from the site office where he was taken for
enquiry,” as has been mentioned into his police complaint lodged by
Mr. Azavedo at the Quepem police station.

The GUJ has demanded that the Goa Government and the police should
take cognizance of the complaint and take immediate action so that the
freedom of media while covering people’s movements and agitations is

The GUJ executive has made it clear that the media will not be cowed
down by such intimidating tactics deployed by vested interests against
media-persons but GUJ will work to unite media-persons and mobilize
people to fight such tactics which are dangerous to democracy.

The GUJ has noted the promptness with which Inspector General of
Police Sundari Nanda acted when the GUJ President brought the incident
of "missing of a journalist who was on an assignment at Carvem mines"
to her notice on Tuesday afternoon and hoped that she will take firm
action on the complaint lodged by the journalist.

Prakash W. Kamat,
President, Goa Union of Journalists,

Monday, May 2, 2011

WAVE videoblogger Vandana invited from Himachal Pradesh to speak at Lady Doak College, Tamil Nadu

At the South Asia Film Festival in Lady Doak College, Madurai

15-17 February 2011

Girls interested in producing videos raise their hands

Participants: 48 college students studying subjects ranging from zoology to economics. All the students were women. Teachers teaching gender studies, environmental studies and economics also attended the festival. 81% of them had never seen a documentary before they attended the festival.

Organisers: International Study Centre and Women’s Study Centre (WSC) at Lady Doak College and South India Term Abroad (SITA).

About the film festival: Film South Asia aims to popularise documentary films among people as a source of information and enterntainment. 15 outstanding films from the festival are selected to make up Travelling Film South Asia. This festival travels all over the subcontinent and the world. TFSA’s each edition has been to 40 venues. The festival helps in creating awareness and understanding among audiences across borders in South Asia.

Objectives of the film fest:

  • To expose students to the various social issues that exist in South Asia
  • To give them a platform to talk to filmmakers and build new perspectives
  • To motivate young women to learn about media and develop an interest in film

Day One: The inaugral session was held in the evening of the first day. I chatted with a couple of students before the session began formally. Some of them were friendly but some were also shy. Though I had been told that they all spoke English, it seemed like they were more comfortable conversing in Tamil. By talking to them, I tried to get an idea about what kind of media they are exposed to and how much technology they use. The session began with the screening of Goddesses, a Tamil documentary film by Leena Manimekhalai. Leena is an independent filmmaker, poet and actor, based in Chennai. She has directed more than 10 documentary, fiction and experimental poem films. After we finished watching the film, students and faculty had a small discussion about it.

Day Two: In the morning, three documentaries – The Promised Land, Children Of God and In Search of Riyal, were screened parallely at 3 different venues. The screenings were followed by a session on Videblogging and WAVE with the students. I began the session by asking the girls about their opinion on media and women’s reprsentation in the media. A few students pointed out that media can deliver misleading information. Most of the students were clueless about the profit-driven, elitist and gender-insensitive side of mainstream media. A small task was given to the students - analysing women’s roles in advertisements on TV. As the discussion progressed, students talked about how ads completely promote gender stereotyping. I asked them if they could escape the mainstream media? Most of them said no.

This was just the right time to introduce to the concept of alternate, people-participatory and community media. When I asked the girls about their internet usage, most of them said they use the Internet but only for looking up information, sending emails and using social networking sites. None of them blog.

The discussion moved to how young people’s perspective and opinion on issues affecting them is important, the power of Internet, freedom of expression, blogging and videoblogging.

Videoblogging was a very new concept for them. Very few of them had used YouTube. Most of them knew how to use a digital camera. They said if given a little training, they could easily use handicams.

I talked to them about how WAVE was born and what it aims to do. I showed them WAVE videos made in Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, and Tamil Nadu. After watching the videos, they had a lot of questions – do Himachali hats have a market, how much does a weaver family earn, how much time does it take to shoot a video, etc. They said they had never realised that women have no land rights. They found the plastic roads video impressive and wondered if something similar could be done in their city where plastic waste is a menace. Students left the room with a question – could they make advocacy videos about issues affecting their city?

In the evening, they got an opportunity to meet Leena, who talked about what inspired her to make films and the different films she has made. There was a long discussion on Goddesses. After that, two other films directed by her were shown. I could see that students completely related to these films because they were in Tamil.

Students watch the WAVE introduction video

Day Three: Students watched films all day and came together in the evening for the closing session of the festival. This is what they had to say about the fest:

  • They learnt about real facts and gained a better understanding of social issues.
  • They felt inspired to think critically and got new ideas.
  • All of them said if given a chance they would like to learn film production and work on a project!

Jaaga (Bangalore) video and animation fellowships!

3 months starting 10th May 2011. Daily 10am to 5pm.
At Jaaga, No. 16/1, Rhenius St. Shanthinagar, Opp. Hockey Stadium, Bangalore - 560003 |
Deadline to Apply: Thursday 7th May 2011 | Number of Fellowships: 3

Fellows will be expected to attend everyday and under the guidance of Clemence Barret follow the prescribed coursework.
The course is production based. Learning is centred around Short Documentary Film-making processes and practices.
Daily screenings of world-class examples in this form will be watched and dissected.
Fellows will work hands-on on specific projects under the Media Center, namely The Whitefield Diaries, Bangalore Art Diaries, Crafts of Hampi and Jaaga Journals.

Interested candidates are to email & with a Resume and a short paragraph (200 words) describing themselves and their interest in this Fellowship.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Article about the lack of opportunities for working women in Goa by Sapna Shahani

Goa’s Women Professionals want more, and they want it now
By Sapna Shahani

Lillian D’Costa, 32, left the idyllic village of Saligao in North Goa where she had spent her childhood years, and moved to Bangalore, in neighbouring Karnataka five years ago. “I had reached a point where I wasn’t growing any more and realised I needed a change,” she recalls. “I’m sure that Goa offers a better quality of life than many other states, but that’s if you’re economically well-placed. If you’re young and need opportunities for growth, Goa does not work.”

Ashwina Souza, 23, left her family in the Southern Goan town of Vasco last year to pursue a Ph.D in Industrial Psychology in Mumbai. “My seniors told me that the faculty here in Goa was not as good as in Mumbai. Besides, in a place like Mumbai, there are so many industries and they need people like us. Among my circle of friends, many have left Goa – perhaps six or eight out of 10.”

Two voices of young women professionals from a state that has recorded the highest per capita income among all Indian states in a 2009-10, according to the central statistical office. However, a study by the Labour Bureau of the Ministry of Labour and Employment also reveals that Goa has the highest unemployment rate in the country. What’s worse, according to another study conducted by Goa’s Ministry of Labour in 2009, only one-fourth of those employed in the state are women.

These figures imply that not only is Goa’s wealth not distributed equally across all sections of society, its working women are clearly marginal players in the state’s economy. Unless efforts are made to reverse this trend, Goa stands to lose young talent, with many youngsters like Lillian and Ashwina being forced to leave home for educational and employment opportunities in other states. Indeed, they are left with little choice, given the rising inflation and high cost of living in Goa.

Perhaps in response to the impending crisis, Goa recently became the first state in India to announce a dole for jobless youth. But such political gestures are merely symbolic. There still isn’t much public discussion about creating jobs for the state’s 80,000 people registered with the Employment Exchange. The Goa Chamber of Commerce carries a telling piece of information on its website: “Roughly about 15,000 graduates come out of Goan colleges every year. The government on its own will not be in a position to provide employment to these youth…”

There is widespread consensus in Goa that higher education in the state does not prepare graduates for real jobs. While the state has focused on primary education – ranking 11th among all Indian states in terms of performance – higher education appears to have stagnated. Public perception is that it is best to earn one’s degree or post-graduate qualification outside the state if one can afford to do so.

Says Aldina Gomes, a lecturer at Carmel College for Women in Nuvem, “As a professor, I’m a little against how academics is handled here. Everyone has to study humanities but they don’t really have a connection to the subject. They won’t pursue humanities as a career but will end up doing something completely different… There is a clear lack of vocational guidance for students as well as career opportunities. There should be many more entrance exams, job-specific courses and certificates that can get you jobs.”

Of course, women students are full of expectations. Take Zaheera Vaz, 20, who is about to start her Master’s degree course in Political Science at Goa University. She is keen to have extra-curricular activities that could help her develop her analytical skills. Nashoma De Jesus, 22, who is currently finishing her Master’s degree in International Studies at Goa University, would like more field experience. “The education system is too theoretical. We need more exposure while we’re studying. Internships should be mandatory,” she argues.

But this would require more investment in higher education, as Sabina Martins, a prominent women’s rights activist and school teacher with a Ph.D in chemistry, points out. “I did my research in carbon, which can be prepared from coconut shells. I thought since Goa has so many coconut shells and carbon is in high demand, being used for water purification and in so many other applications, it should be easy to make carbon this way. I went to see the only plant that does this in Goa and it was run by someone from outside the state. Planning here is devoid of research,” she says.

Those who don’t leave the state and are lucky enough to find jobs after they graduate, get measly salaries, sometimes as low as Rs 4,000 (US41=Rs 44) a month. Aglin Barretto, 23, has a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology and works in two schools as a counsellor. Her salary? Just Rs 5,000 per month.

Both opportunities and salaries are lower in Goa than elsewhere and that is a source of angst for young women like Skitter Faia, 32, who works in a PR firm in state capital Panaji. “I hear a lot of people talking about job security and I think that means a government job where you can work or not work and still take a salary home,” observes Skitter. Others feel that appreciation and promotions don’t easily come the way of women employees. Clara Rodrigues, 24, a journalist based in Saligao, rues the fact that the glass ceiling obstructs many ambitions women may harbour, “We need opportunities to grow vertically in the organisation.”

But this does not mean that women have stopped dreaming of personal growth and freedom. Interestingly, one of the reasons why many young women here prefer to migrate out of the state is to free themselves from the diktat of conservative families and the norms that mark rural life. D’Costa says, “As a single woman living outside the state, you don’t have to rush home. Or face judgmental people in the village who are always assessing you. Or hear that your phone isn’t accessible. These are constraints I experience every time I return to Goa.”

Despite the stereotypes fostered by the coastal tourist belt, life in Goa’s hinterland is fairly restrictive for young women and the general outlook is narrow. Ashwina shares a personal anecdote, “Once in college, a teacher asked us why we wanted to go to college. Students gave all sorts of answers. Some argued that it was their ticket to leave home; others said it was their certificate for marriage; still others just wanted to ‘pass time’, while a few talked of how it was the best way to make friends. Only three of us – out of a class of 60 – said they were in college to pursue a career.”

She and others like her want the state to be more pro-active about broadening professional vistas. Not only would this bring economic benefits to the state, it would mean more women in the workplace, they argue. For instance, they point out, that Goa – with its educated population – is eminently suited to emerge as an IT hub, yet little is being done to achieve this.

Says D’Costa, “The government wants to invite only ‘clean’ industries to the state. With its good roads, broadband connectively and relatively cheaper land, it could easily attract the IT industry. IT companies are moving out of Bangalore to places like Chennai and Vellore, but why aren’t they coming to Goa? Bangalore was once known as a retiree’s city, but now it has reinvented itself as a world city. Why can’t Goa make the same transition?”

If Goa has to keep pace with the hopes and expectations of women like D’Costa, it would need to do much more to expand employment opportunities for young professionals.

Published in Deccan Herald, Bangalore edition, 30th April 2011