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Gender equity champion

Dr Sharada Srinivasan, Canada Research Chair in Gender, Justice and Development, is examining the gender transformation that is underway as a result of the daughter deficit, in order to create a favourable environment for daughters, and for the emergence of a “daughter preference”.

She is using a feminist perspective to explore the changes that are occurring due to daughter deficits, and is combining theoretical insights from different disciplines.

She is also gathering evidence to demystify practices that allow “son preference” and “daughter aversion” to continue, including examining the relative contributions that daughters and sons make to their families.

Dr Srinivasan has been conducting research on daughter discrimination and daughter elimination for nearly 20 years, starting with when she was working on her PhD. Since then, she has looked at the impact of daughter deficit, and the policy responses to prevent it. 

She came to Canada as an academic to a full-time tenured position at York University, and did not face the ‘Canadian experience’ barrier, but says she is aware of the fact that had she come straight from an Indian university, that may not have been the case, as all degrees are not ranked equally.

There was the usual getting used to new stuff, but having spent several years outside India, she didn’t find the cultural differences challenging, either.

“Canadians are friendly and welcoming, they make it easy!”

Her advice for newcomers and young women who look to her for guidance is simple: Just be yourself.

“It can be very hard to resist extraneous forces, especially when you want to be accepted by your family and the larger community as well as the world outside.”

Her dream project, one she began in India and which has relevance in Canada as well, is to show that daughters’ contributions are valuable, too.

“I have this vision of a world where people are respected and valued for who they are, not for the boxes in which they are placed. When value judgements are not based on one’s being a woman or a daughter or a Muslim or a Punjabi. It will take a long time, but I’m hopeful of getting there. In the meantime, there’s work to be done!” 

Posted: Jan 31, 2020

May 2020

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