This month, we had students from Cornell College visit the CRHP campus. For their final project, the students were asked to present photographs on their CRHP course experience that focused on gender and development in India. Here are their photographs and reflections. Enjoy!
Yamunabai, a VHW, continues to share her knowledge with others.
A reflection of a VHW’s years of dedication to serving her community.
Preschoolers eating. In Dhondpargaon we visited the preschool. The kids were happily eating some yellow rice, it’s important to see that these little kids have a safe place to go during the day while their parents are at work. You can also see the good that women’s self help groups are doing in the area by providing food for these kids who may not get sufficient nutrition everyday, they now get it provided most days from community aid. There were a few girls following our group who were around preschool age. It was sweet to see that when we stopped at the preschool, though they had not been attending that day, they were invited to sit down and eat with the other kids. No questions asked.
Two girls getting water. I took this photo in the non-project village Dhondpargaon. We first saw these girls leaving the primary school to get drinking water for the whole class. It was quickly pointed out that this was gender discrimination, and I realized that everyone I had seen getting water was a woman. There is a gendered division of labor in India, and women often do the heavy lifting, they also do the cooking and cleaning. Through all of this the women have a strong connection with water. In this photo we can also see the positive influence of government intervention in the pump giving this town easy access to clean water.
A young girl playing by herself in the main square of the village during school time.
A woman pumps water for her cattle.
Women at CRHP teach a class on how to make pickle and sell it for profit.
After observing this man’s intense focus on sewing a saree blouse, I was moved to ask for his permission to be photographed for this project. This image stood out to me because, as an American who is accustomed to seeing women taking domestic service jobs, my initial interpretation of this moment was as diverse and progressive. However, here in India, I think it is important to hold this photo in context and connect this image to a gender discrimination problem in overall employment options and social expectations for women.
This image strongly represents Indian society’s perception of the powerful relationship between gender and economics. While this image initially can be interpreted to show the typical high value a father places on a cow as income and wealth and his lack of interest in his daughter, I was able to witness several tender moments between father and daughter that challenged this social practice. As an image, I think it holds powerful meaning and as the photographer, I was moved by the dichotomy of what I am learning about Indian society and the variety of gender behaviors that can and does exist.
This collage highlights the hands of several of the women (and girls) we have met while in India. Each holds the potential to change not only their lives, but the lives of those around them through hard work and perseverance. Their hands are a legacy unto themselves, a statement of quiet power for those who wish to see it.
The Giver. A woman holds her child in Dhondpargaon, a non-project village. A simple moment in the sun.
Within Her Hands. A woman holds a ration of rice in her hands at the dispensary in Ghodegaon. She is the one who gives food and oil rations to those who fall below the poverty line.
The Leader. Shailatai holds a meeting of two village health workers and the village council. The village health worker she has trained, an expectant mother, her child, and the student she has inspired all look to her for guidance.
In Ghodegaon currently the soakpits are not being used, and thus wastewater from many households is draining onto the street. Such wastewater can be seen on this street in Ghodegaon, where a woman is carrying a bundle. Women in India and across the world in developing countries are often seen in this context: as carriers, affected by water.
This family’s house is located in the Indiranagar slums. The woman holding the baby is the mother of the family, and the baby was her third or fourth child, but her first son. Upon realizing that we had camera phones, she posed with her son proudly, and laughed and smiled after she was shown the picture.
The obstacles of discrimination and oppression for women start in the womb. Many girl babies are not welcomed into families. Women who give birth to girls are shamed and are fearful of being kicked out of their homes. However, this little girl has already overcome a major obstacle many girls do not. She is alive. She is cared for and looked after. The importance of this photo isn’t suppose to show the cuteness of babies, but to show that girls need to be celebrated. Showing off your daughter to a bunch of strangers is a huge step to ending female infanticide. It shows that the family cares, and proves that girls have value.
Not only do these young girls face the barrier of living in a rural community. They also face the barrier of being a girl. Many families do not send their daughters to school because they see no incentive to do so. Girls are raised to become wives, not doctors or engineers. Yet, when asked these girls had no aspiration to settle with housewife as a future profession. They aspire to be doctors, engineers and teachers.
Little girl in the non-project village of Dhondpargaon while preschool is in session.
From the slum of Indiranagar, two boys make their way across the street to CRHP’s Joyful Learning Preschool, hand in hand.
Children from Indiranagar, who would otherwise spend their days begging on the streets, laughing and playing at the Joyful Learning Preschool.
Post office in Dhondpargaon.
Women’s Self-Help Group
This image captures one of the individuals in the village Ghodegaon, who suffers from mental illness, and is a product of the support and knowledge the VHWs bring.
Ratna guiding us as the sun sets; an image that captures her beauty and strength, a woman with HIV/AIDS.
A woman getting water, a man taking care of cows. Lack of gender equity and division of labor which is highly gendered.
Dalit woman’s house. Low socioeconomic status resulted from caste and patriarchy made them poorer.