Awriter’s village for solely for women is the brainchild of the Department of Social Justice of the Kerala government. The aim of the village called Gender Park is to generate a space exclusively for women’s developmental and cultural activities, emphasising entrepreneurship, research and documentation of the history of women’s roles in Kerala’s society, strengthen development activities undertaken by various departments, agencies and civil society movements.
The first of its kind in the country, the Gender Park has brought together state, academia and civil society on a common platform. “Though the Gender Park we aim to empower and uplift girls to become the best. We provide programmes that instill self-esteem and goal-setting behaviour among women. We base our principles on the everyday woman who has accomplished numerous goals and broken many barriers in her life to be successful. It is our duty to provide guidance and help women reach their destiny regardless of obstacles,” says Kerala’s Minister for Panchayats and Social Justice M K Muneer.
The Gender Park is headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram. The park’s 24-acre campus will be built in Kozhikode in five phases. The first phase of the construction has been aptly christened ‘Thantedam’, which means a “unique space for women” in Malayalam.
“The construction will be completed in 15 months on a budget of Rs 13.5 crore,” says Gender Park CEO PTM Sunish. “As part of the first phase, a convention
centre of global standards, an amphitheatre, museum, library and administrative block will be set up, besides landscaping.”
The first phase comprises a writer’s village exclusively for women that will have rooms where they can write. The Gender Park village will have space for artworks, sculptures and a convention centre, where women can rehearse and stage plays. A museum to showcase the achievements of women who made their mark in their respective fields—like freedom fighter Captain Lakshmi Sahgal, litterateur Madhavikutty and missile scientist Tessy Thomas—will be put up. There will also be a library and a memorial for women who fought for women empowerment and for causes of humanity.
Even before work on the campus has commenced, Gender Park has established its aim through the She Taxi scheme, a fleet of taxis owned and operated by women for exclusively for women commuters. The service was launched in 2013 in Thiruvananthapuram with five cars with the motto of ‘safe, secure and responsible’ travel for women. She Taxis now has 25 taxis in Thiruvananthapuram.
She Taxis will be launched in Kozhikode in January and later in Kottayam, Kollam and Thrissur districts. In Kochi, the service was launched in May and has been operating with eight cabs. It has travelled 256,000 km in the first six-and-a-half months.