I value my Bellagio stay for providing a way of crystallizing, synthesizing, and analyzing my work. It was also a great learning experience about the effort it takes to write.Dr. Urvashi SahniFounder and Chief Executive of Study Hall Educational Foundation
Bellagio’s serenity is just one aspect of its impact: it’s the people who make it special. I had a sense of being a member of an international community.Dr. Urvashi SahniFounder and Chief Executive of Study Hall Educational Foundation
Data crunching, researching, and writing can be tough work, so when you have that sense of calm from your surroundings, it enables you to work hard. So many interesting people were there. When I started the first chapter, I showed it to David Smuts [a judge on the Supreme Court of Namibia], who took it to read at a local village café. When he returned with feedback, it was mainly advice on the structure. He also told me which parts of the chapter worked well. It was really helpful to have this kind of support. Bellagio’s serenity is just one aspect of its impact: it’s the people who make it special. I had a sense of being a member of an international community. A few of us have stayed in touch since that time.
The experience was so instructive that I applied to be part of another residency and got it. I’ve been working with women and girls a lot, but I want to get the male perspective. How do they feel about feminist conversations? Do they feel threatened, or bad? Do they feel inspired to do something about it? I think it’s harder to give up privilege than it is to fight for it. Over the years, I’ve realized that men are as much the victims of social constructs as women. We need to have empathy when we talk. We also need to try and help men see that the patriarchy doesn’t work for them either, quite the opposite. I think Indian culture is still fraught with all kinds of prejudices. So, I want to look at sexual norms, too. How do men feel about women as sexual beings?
I don’t think enough people have written things about men, especially not in an empathetic way. So, I will spend my second time at Bellagio figuring out a clear framework for the second book. Bellagio has been so impactful on my work that I’ve tried to encourage as many people as possible to apply. If there’s anyone who feels they have something to say, they should apply.
We’d like to thank Urvashi for her continued contribution to the network. To find out more about her work, explore the outreach of the Study Hall Education Foundation, or read Urvashi’s Brookings Institution blog posts, which include reflections on gender equality and sustainability.
You can also find out more about her 2017 book, Reaching for the Sky: Empowering Girls Through Education.
Or, you can simply follow her on Twitter.
Welcome to the second Bellagio Bulletin, where you’ll learn of the many ways that the Bellagio Center has supported the work of the world’s leading thinkers. We, at The Rockefeller Foundation, are committed to gender equality and the Bellagio Center has helped us to advance the global gender equality agenda. The activities and conversations at […]More