Gargi is a college named after an extremely courageous and accomplished woman, unafraid to ask troubling questions. Unmukti, the Women’s Development Centre (WDC), is a space that strives to give contemporary young women a chance to honour their potential to grow up free, fearless and dignified.
Our college’s WDC is a vibrant forum for the undergraduate student to think about, talk about and act upon gender- and sexuality-based inequality and violence, which remain a stubborn – and disturbing – fact of our everyday lives. The services provided by the WDC are available to all members of the Gargi student community, but students are also welcome to take up membership in the core team and participate in 60 hours of activities, spanning workshops, seminars, talks, debates and discussions, and field trips. All our activities engage with the gendered nature of a range of issues, be they legal, economic, social or cultural.
Our focus is to provide academic opportunity and skills-development along a variety of planes where we unite co-curricular work with curricular relevance. Various types of activities are organized such that a public meeting per fortnight allows deliberation and debate with students. Students are actively supervised/mentored/led by teacher members of the WDC to be able to conduct awareness raising both for themselves as well as peers. In-house meetings like these cover a range of topics, from body image, to domestic violence to improving media use and intervention. These discursive events allow our student members to pick up new skills both through working with teachers from various departments as well as by meeting students from the entire college community. In addition, we also do other kinds of skill-building with direct practical goals. We empower students to learn how to tackle everyday physical harassment, for example, through the Self-Defence training we provide in collaboration with other organizations including the Delhi Police. We conduct intensive skill-building workshops on subjects like child abuse, surviving gender-based violence and abuse, police procedure, legal redress so that students become more resourceful when faced with these challenges. In addition, we also run a sanitary napkin vending service on a cost-to-cost basis, as well as a day-care facility for the children of any member of the college needing such services.
The Centre organises, besides its annual festival, add-on/certificate courses and workshops/trainings and internships which provide academic opportunities beyond coursework. Our action-based research projects, such as our Safety Audit of the immediate zones of/around college, lead to publishable writing for student participants besides helping to change things in the worlds they move through for the better. We also encourage students to take up summer and winter internships in collaboration with important NGOs to enable students to gain co-curricular skills that stand them in good skill in future personal and professional ventures including higher education in gender-core programs. Unmukti activities are for students an opportunity to make change, be it ever so small, in an unequally gendered world.
All our student work is conducted through a diverse and heterogeneous team of “Gender Champions,” office bearers from each department, who organise and conceptualize specific activities for sensitization and mainstreaming of gender-based equality under the supervision and mentorship of the teachers committee. This is a prestigious and important position available to students since 2017, when the title was made available by the UGC.