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Speakers

Professor of Law, NLSIU
Independent Writer & Researcher
Interlocutor

On International Women’s Day 2024, standards of equality reflected in the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) continue to be elusive in the private sphere. In India, legal pluralism in family laws has historically seen  men and women treated differently, as well as a reluctance to look beyond the gender binary.

Laws on reproductive and sexual rights have fallen short of fully protecting rights of women. Making Rights Real examines legal rights in India against the backdrop of the CEDAW.

Dr. Sarasu Esther Thomas will deliver a talk which will be followed by a conversation with Cynthia Stephen and a Q & A session with the audience.

Speakers

Sarasu Esther Thomas

Professor of Law, NLSIU

Professor Dr Sarasu Esther Thomas is an alumnus of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore where she has taught for over 25 years. During her time there, she has worn a number of hats including that of the Registrar of the University and has built up both the Centre for Women and the Law and the Human Rights Lawyering Project for over a decade. She has received a number of Fellowships including the Linneaus Palme and the WISCOMP Fellowship. Her areas of research and writing include Gender, Human Rights, and Family Law.

Cynthia Stephen

Independent Writer & Researcher

Cynthia Stephen wears many hats. A journalist by training, – she studied at the Indian institute of Mass communication Delhi – she has written for and continues to write for a number of media groups and an independent journalist.

Her decades of work in the NGO sector gave her a wide exposure to issues of the people on the ground, which only enhanced her childhood memories of growing up among working class people in villages and smaller towns.

She took a Master’s in Women’s Studies in her late 30s and has now made a mark in research and policy analysis in the field of gender, poverty and development, as an activist who engages with the UN CEDAW committee and has participated in the deliberations of the UN Commission on the Status of women, the UN Cedaw Committee and the UN world Conference on Women in Beijing.

Cynthia now heads an NGO working on the issues of women in Distress, called the Training Education and Development Services Trust, or TEDS Trust for short. She continues to engage with these issue and also with civic issues and works with civil society groups to promote awareness on the Constitution among women and young people. She is passionate about gender justice and believes that a greater role for sensitised and empowered women in all places of decision making is crucial for a safer, more just and a vibrant society.