Emory Report
November 7, 2005
Volume 58, Number 10


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November 7 , 2005
Indian writer and activist Ritu Menon visits campus

Lailee Mendelson is manager of public relations for the Office of International Affairs.

The Halle Institute for Global Learning welcomes Indian writer and women’s rights activist Ritu Menon to campus, Nov. 14–17. Menon, who will visit as a Halle Distinguished Fellow, is the founder of India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali for Women.

As part of Emory’s celebration of International Education Week, which takes place Nov. 14–18, Menon will deliver two public lectures: “The Dissenting Feminist Voice in Global Publishing,” Nov. 14 at 4:15 p.m. in 207 White Hall; and “Doing Peace: Women’s Activism in South Asia,” Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in 205 White Hall. Her visit is co-sponsored by the Asian Studies Program and the Institute of Comparative and International Studies.

Begun in a Delhi garage in 1984 with less than $100, Kali for Women today is widely acknowledged as a major force in feminist publishing, providing a forum for women writers and raising awareness around the world about the lives of women in South Asia. Kali was behind one of the major successes of feminist publishing in India, Shareer ki Jaankari, a handbook on women’s sexuality put together by a hundred women from Rajasthani villages. Today, the handbook has sold more than 17,000 copies and been translated into the Indian languages Gujarati and Marathi, helping dispel the traditional fear and mystery surrounding women’s sexuality.

Menon is an internationally renowned scholar on issues of feminism, religion and violence, and censorship, She has written and edited several books, including Borders and Boundaries: Women in India’s Partition; Against All Odds: Essays on Women, Religion and Development from India and Pakistan; and Making a Difference: Feminist Publishing in the South.

Her most recent book is Unequal Citizens: A Study of Muslim Women in India, co-authored with Zoya Hasan. It is the result of a groundbreaking survey—the first of its kind in India—of 10,000 Muslim and Hindu women across 12 states on issues such as social and economic status, marital status, mobility, political participation and access to welfare, medicine, and education. The book seeks to dispel popular misconceptions and stereotypes about Muslim women, gender and Islam—in particular, the notion that religion is the sole determining factor of women’s status in India.

Menon also is active in the women’s and women’s studies movements in India and South Asia, working collaboratively with many individuals and organizations in the region on a wide range of issues. She is a founding member of Women’s WORLD, an international free-speech network of writers and publishers that has worked with more than 200 women writers in India on the question of gender-based censorship.
For more information on Menon’s visit to Emory, contact The Halle Institute at 404-727-7504.

International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. departments of State and Education to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences in the United States. Look for posters around campus highlighting other internationally related events that week.