What Does it Mean to be a Woman?

August 23, 2017


Founded in 1997, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. The centers embody the University’s mission to unite students and faculty with Silicon Valley leaders to address significant public issues. Miller Center accelerates global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity.

(Image courtesy of Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Post by: Nithya Vemireddy, 2017 Global Social Benefit Fellow)

“Guess it’s just us two females hanging out in a crowd of just males once again.” This common phrase was jokingly uttered between Maya and I multiple times throughout our field research in India. Gender inequality is not a new concept to me; it is something I have become very conscious of every summer spent in India. Even though gender inequality exists in America, it is more apparent here in India. Everywhere men dominate public spaces while most women stay inside their houses. When we arrived to the rural areas to conduct our interviews with the end-beneficiaries, the men would crowd around us while the women would be outside their houses looking at us from afar.

To see the social impact of Awaaz.De’s technology, we visited a total of five organizations: Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), Self-Employed Women Association (SEWA), Ambuja Cement Foundation (ACF), CRISIL, and Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS). All of these organizations use Awaaz.De’s technology to further promote their mission. Our interactions with the endusers during our first three visits— respectively PAD, SEWA, ACF—were filled with males. During these fields visits, our only interactions with women would be at the homes/fields we visited, and even then, women would only interact with us when they would give us chai.

At first, it didn’t bother me as much because I was used to it, but I never thought I would be so excited to interact with women before. Sometimes, I would find myself drawn to the women crowded on the steps of a house and approach them with a simple head nod. They would immediately return the same greeting back to me, but I would have to leave soon after to conduct our interviews. However, for brief moments, when I would be able to have conversations with these women with my limited Hindi, I would feel immense happiness.

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