The School of Humanities and Social Science (SoHSS), GD Goenka University (GDGU) organised a Social Awareness Workshop on March 2, 2016 as a part of the pre-conference activities. The workshopthemed, â€œUnderstanding Gender-Sexuality, Violence and Creating Resistanceâ€, was conducted by Sappho for Equality, a renowned organisation based in Kolkata working on gender-sexuality rights, specifically for rights of lesbian, bisexual women and F to M transpersons.
Three Resource persons from the organisation, Dr.Ranjita Biswas, a consultant psychiatrist by professional training and a womenâ€™s and LGBT rights activist, Dr.NiharikaBanrjea, Associate Professor of Sociology at Ambedkar University, Delhi and SumitaBandyopadhyay, a queer feminist activist and the co-founder of Sappho for Equality piloted the workshop which was attended by more than 30 students and conference participants from various institutions like JNU, AMU, NUEPA and GDGU.
The workshop was conducted in two extensive and invigorating sessions. The first session aimed at developing a basic conceptual understanding of gender-sexuality, including the historical backdrop of the very idea of gender and sexuality, the geographical positioning and sociological context of gender differentiation and sexual differentiation and an awareness about the lack of sexual, social and legal rights as faced by the LGBTQ community in the country. Through various images, advertisements and video clips, Dr.Banerjea and Dr. Biswas acquainted the participants with the fine lines and invisible markers of differentiation carried on in society in the name of religious, moral and even legal justice.
In the second session, a documentary film, titledInfact was screened for the participants. The film addressed various complicated questions of gender identity, sexual orientation, gender-queer and social acceptance of different gendered and sexual identities. The participants were organised into three groups after the screening and an extensive discussion was held among the groups, moderated by Ms. Bandyopadhyaytrying to figure out the open questions thrown forth by the movie.
The workshop came to an end with Prof.KakoliSen, Dean, SoHSSaddressing the participants, followed by the distribution of certificates. The SoHSS looks forward to a long and fruitful association with Sappho for Equality, created through this workshop, and many more productive sensitisation activities involving the students and the staff of the University.