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Making it happen: the programme. Breaking the rules.

  • Padmanabhan, V
Published Article
Links : a newsletter on gender for Oxfam GB staff and partners
Publication Date
Oct 01, 1996
PMID: 12347693


I have always believed that women should be given equal recognition and treatment. My upbringing, observation and experience taught me that I would get nowhere unless I broke the rules. Equal recognition happens only when women are consciously encouraged to reflect and led to understand their worth by looking at their own lives. I use the strategy of sharing my own experience to open dialogue with rural women. For example, in India I helped poor tribal women to go to the Tribal Commissioner when they were being cheated out of tribal rights over land. Appealing to the law makes women stronger, more assertive, and more aware of their rights. Land titles were restored to a few women and they became leaders and supported other women in the same predicament. This change was possible because of a commitment of resources, the attitude of the authorities, and my presence as an Oxfam project officer. As a woman manager I am proud to have helped to create an office environment which in sensitive to women's needs and the way women operate. I have consciously fostered the space for a diversity of ways of working. I can do that because of my management position, and support from other structures, like AGRA and the Gender Unit. It has not been easy as a woman manager in a male dominated, technical program, and as a non-white woman from the South. But with decision-making authority it has been possible to keep women's participation and gender on the agenda.

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