Journal of South Asia Women Studies

The International Women's Day, Harvard University and Our Journal’s Birthday

Editorial Note by Enrica Garzilli

On March 8, the International Women’s Day marks a celebration of the economic, social, cultural and political achievements for women all over the world.

The first International Women’s Day was held on 19 March 1911 in Germany, Austria, Denmark and other European countries. German women selected this date because in 1848 the Prussian king had promised the vote for women.

Since 1848 a lot has been achieved in the world by women, but until we are fully represented at senior leadership levels of public, professional and economic life, we do not have equal rights nor an equal voice.

We are lucky to have as a supporter one of the most representative men of the educational system, the top economist President L. Summers of Harvard University. Perhaps to celebrate our economic, social, cultural and political achievements all over the world, last January 14 he gave a speech on women engaged in science and research. From the Boston Globe January 17, 2005:

The president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, sparked an uproar at an academic conference Friday when he said that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers. Summers also questioned how much of a role discrimination plays in the dearth of female professors in science and engineering at elite universities.

[...] Summers said he was only putting forward hypotheses based on the scholarly work assembled for the conference, not expressing his own judgments -- in fact, he said, more research needs to be done on these issues.

I am not the best in anything like Mr. Summers, but I know for sure that his mother worked for a long time as a waitress in a restaurant, even after he was nominated as the President of the most famous university in the world. I wonder who made him study and who supported him to the ladder of his future brilliant career, when he was just an elementary or a high school student. In short, who sacrificed herself for him.

The International Women's Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women seeking to participate equally in society on an equal footing with men. And I wonder who gave great men such as President Summers the possibility to make his own achievements, who worked hard to give him and many other well-known men all over the world the chance and the serenity to became who they have become.

Just a suggestion: Women, do not sacrifice your time, your body and your mind, your own aspirations and dreams, to have as a result a son like President Summers!

This year we celebrate our 10th birthday. The JSAWS was established at Harvard University, while I was teaching there, thanks to university resources. Soon, it became clear that we would not be free to publish what we wanted to publish. We had pressures from the then academic Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, who did not want me to be the editor-in-chief of the journal I founded, together with Dr. Ludovico Magnocavallo (our Technical Editor), and with the support of Prof. Michael Witzel (at the time Chair of the Sanskrit & Indian Studies Department at Harvard U.) and our international board of scholars serving as editors. Therefore, we immediately decided to move the journal to the Politechnic of Milan, where Ludovico was serving as a systems administrator.

We made the right choice. Since then we have freely published many of the papers we thought were scholarly relevant, and many libraries have subscribed to the Asiatica Association, under which this journal and the International Journal of Tantric Studies are published. Many good papers have been rejected and many others are sitting there, waiting to be read or published.

We apologize with our readers, but we are doing our best in order to keep the publications going while working at the university, or somewhere else like Ludo.

Thank you to all of you for your continuous support and for believing in our mission: the scholarly study of Asian cultures in order to create an international debate on the subject, and to create a channel of communication between science and media, between scholarly production and NGOs activities, and between religious thought and/or ethical thought

The paper we are publishing is “Empowering Women in India: Changing Horizons -- The Kalanjiam Experience” by Vinita Pandey. She is an Academic Consultant at Nizam College, Osmania University, Hyderabad (India).

We are also publishing a review of Prof. Michelguglielmo Torri, Storia dell'India Torino: Editori Laterza, by Sumit Guha, Professor of History at Rutgers University.

In a few days we are going to publish a new issue (vol. 10. no. 2), including the paper "Women in Garhwal (Indian) Himalaya: From Eco-social Disparity to Eco-political Activism", by Prof. Annpurna Nautiyal (HNB Garhwal Uni., Srinagar).