Dr Celine Sunny is a renowned figure in the academic segment, particularly for her various researches related to women’s empowerment and girls’ education. She has also been instrumental in setting up the Centre for Women’s Studies and Development (CWSD) in 2000, exclusively for Research and Training on women and directing it since then.
Dr. Celine Sunny holds a Master's degree in Sociology, Women’s Studies and a doctorate in Social Sciences She has been heading the Rajagiri Research Institute for over 35 years. She was a visiting faculty at the universities and institutes of Singapore, Malaysia, Hongkong, Jordan, Palestine, Netherlands, Japan, USA and UK.
A former consultant of the World Bank, ADB, UNICEF and ILO and recipient of the national award (2007) for the research work on ‘Women and Governance’, she has vast experience in teaching, research, training/workshops.
The Beyond Pink World recently had a conversation with Dr Celine, who shared her thoughts about women’s empowerment and bringing sustainable gender equality in society.
Can you explain your core area of work?
Women Empowerment through research involving strategic planning, designing and implementation of sustainable women development activities.
How did your academic and personal experiences working in the social welfare segment help address social justice issues?
Conduct of research studies on social issues, especially on women and subsequent policy recommendations to the concerned Govt and International Agencies was much rewarding. For example, the recent Kerala budget has included the recommendations for the rehabilitation of street dwellers mentioned in the ARC - 6th reports based on the research study. The varied international exposure paved the way for imbibing new ideas and strategies resulting in effective addressing of social issues.
Further, the undertaking of action research projects on water and sanitation, organisation of capacity building programmes, legal awareness programmes, and implementation of income generation programmes through science and technology interventions went a long way in minimising some of the crucial social issues.
As an academician, I could facilitate the involvement of the student community in creating visibility to the issue before the public and concerned authorities. Further, networking and partnerships with NGOs, state and central Govt. Departments and international organisations were instrumental in strategically addressing social justice issues.
Harassment, sexual assault and abuse against women have been a matter of concern for years. Despite several reforms, policies and laws, women victimisation continues. What lacks in these policies?
-.An integrated and women-centric approach is lacking in framing policies for women’s safety and welfare.
-Absence of required level of coordination among the various law enforcement agencies viz. Police, Govt Departments and religious organisations.
-Lack of strict enforcement of severe punishment of the perpetrators of crimes against women.
You have headed and been part of many social welfare panels aimed at uplifting women’s status. What will you suggest to bring sustainable gender equality in society?
-Ensure effective implementation of equal property rights, equal representation of women in the legislative Assembly and parliament.
-Take measures in conceptualising, implementing and reimagining equitable gender distribution of labour at home.
-Promote educated women’s employment and facilities for safe travel and accommodation.
-Promote gender sensitisation through Capacity building training, outreach, workshops, seminars, legal counseling and the like extensively in the academic sphere, Local self Govt. and NGO level.
--Set up an effective district-level monitoring mechanism to ensure gender equality in all spheres.-Conduct gender sensitisation training for Boys/Men to create an attitude towards gender equality.
Amid increasing cases of rape and abuse, particularly in an era of the internet, how will sex education from the school level help to prevent rape incidents?
Sex education from the school level will bring out a women-friendly, viable, and congenial environment. This will further promote a gender-just attitude among the academic community which in turn will be reflected in the attitudinal change and development of the students resulting in a safe environment for women.
You are also known for your penchant for cookery and even wrote extensively on the subject. Can you tell us something about the subject and your most preferred food?
Kerala-the land of Spices is renowned for its mouth-watering cuisine. The domestic and International Tourists are much fascinated by Kerala Cuisine. The cuisine is a magnetic word in the present era, as the young, adult, and old are enthusiastically interested in the oriental and continental dishes. Cooking involves creativity and it adds flavour to life.
Food is a symbol of caring monopolised by women and now men are also encouraged to demonstrate the caring through varied food items. Gourmet’s delight is the prime concern and the youth are in search of delicious delicacies on the internet. Hence, the cookery books and their authors are side-lined by this emerging trend. Cookery Experts now promote the use of organic home-made dishes to tickle the taste buds of the food lovers’ Healthy food prepared in hygienic condition permeated with the impressive presentation is the mark of the day. In my published recipes I always insist on such a blending. Cookery is indeed a life skill that needs to be mastered by all.