Geetha, thank you for your comments.
Quote:"This is a part of a deeper problem when women have to take twice the trouble that men need to take to come out in the open and participate in an 'out of the ordinary' get together and then they are easily silenced by the mechanism of the group."
The first part of this seems to be a larger social issue, but certainly one that needs scrutiny. But more importantly, how do we ensure that "the mechanism of the group" as you very aptly put it, does not silence any women who overcome the odds to participate in the important work of community building? We need to hear from other women- we need to hear discussions by women with each other on this topic!
I had originally started a private conversation on facebook with a bunch of progressive minded women and men, with the intention of getting some much-needed debate on this topic. Although that conversation did elicit interested responses, we have been able to establish very little regarding understanding or addressing the issue. In response to a question from Aarti, I did some digging and just posted this
Quote:It does not take so much trouble for a woman to go visit a church or a temple!
Good point. I've read one theory that claims the reason why women are less represented in Freethought groups is the fact that they are better integrated socially than men are, and religion provides that integration. By the way, the analysis indicates that, regarding the numbers of our facebook page members, the difference between women and men is greatest for the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups. These are also probably the demographics that would have the greatest access to religious services. But there certainly are other factors in play here.
Quote:It would help to bring more women to be part of the panel of speakers and it would help to encourage women to let their children tag along, in case they have no alternative caregivers, as long as the meeting is not a professional one. And more importantly the organizers should ensure that no woman is talked down to and no offending and condescending words are used by any of the speakers. This should not be very difficult if the speakers are sensitized to the issue.
It would be nice to see more discussion from the women on this group on how to go about doing the things you have listed. This is the main thing that I have taken away from the original article, the follow-up by PZ, and the ensuing discussion.
But we are still at the stage of initiating discussion on the issue, let alone addressing the many specifics. And it is best that even this initiation come from the women! I must confess that it is very hard to not simply suggest solutions to the issue, but that would run counter to what this thread is about. Except in one area - "power". Since the members of Nirmukta with administrative power tend to be male, it is important that these male members with power are limited by the application of specific rules. I know some people are against such "quotas" for "minorities" in principle, but I doubt any Freethinker would challenge the idea that encouraging women to take up posts in administrative levels within Nirmukta is key to building a community of Freethinkers that can address and offer solutions to the social and cultural problems of our time.
When I say we need more women in positions of power in Nirmukta's structure, I'm implying that women who have been with us from the beginning are best suited to organizing and welcoming more women into the group. This is something that the men can best help by getting out of the way. Most of us, including the men, would really love to see some of the women take charge around here, determined to not remain in the background but play the vital roles of building social cohesion and making it easier for young women and men to become Freethinkers, as the fundamental infrastructure of our community is being put together!