Publication Details

Sharma-Brymer, V. (2006). Educated women''s ways of knowing on gender, education and social transformation: exploring actionable space. In A. Vickers & M. Hanlon (Eds.), Asia Reconstructed: Proceedings of the 16th Biennial Conference of the ASAA (pp. 1-21). Canberra, ACT: Asian Studies Association of Australia Inc (ASAA).


How do women with higher education view their own experiences of being educated in their everyday life? How do they understand and address gender relations as educated women? What is their analysis of gender and social transformation in the contemporary Indian society? This paper examines these questions in the light of educated women’s experiences. Stories and narratives of five women living in urban Bangalore in Southern India provide the ground to inquire into issues of gender and social transformation. This paper argues that theoretical perspectives supporting transformation through education do not effectively address the everyday experiences of women living in traditional societies such as India, which are rooted in tradition, patriarchy, power and control. The women participants of this study, which was conducted for a doctoral thesis, illuminate their negotiations within private and public domains of life with tensions, conflicts and turning points. They narrate the internalised goals of their education, achievements through education and their position of remaining traditional women, a constant in a rapidly changing society. They provide valuable insights regarding position and power in gender relations. Analysing their insights and recommendations about what needs to be done with education for future generation of girls in terms of social transformation, the author identifies the gaps within ability, action and space for change. The author proposes a new theoretical construct called Actionable Space, which underlines women’s dilemma and also the available space to take action for change in their life circumstances.

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