The Gender and Law Association (GALA) presently is an unincorporated body of academics, advocates and others in US and India collaborating to promote women's rights by mainstreaming gender into Indian legal education. The initiative for this association came from the Women and International Law Program (WILP) and the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law of American University Washington College of Law.
With funding from the Ford Foundation in New Delhi, WILP and its Indian partners held their first meeting in June 2003. This exploratory discussion focused on opportunities for furthering women's legal status by mainstreaming women's rights into legal education. It was the first time that information and experiences promoting gender mainstreaming were systematically shared between American and Indian legal academics and activists.
At the Working Group meeting, the group discussed existing curriculum, resistance to change in law school curricula and strategies for implementing overcoming this resistance. The challenges ranged from institutional resistance to absence of suitably trained teachers, lack of sufficient materials, and the lack of a support network for mainstreaming gender into legal education. The participants stressed the need to develop gendered curriculum, prepare reading materials, and create modules for training teachers in appropriate pedagogy.
Given the ever-decreasing proportion of women to men in the last century in India, it is critical that gender issues are integrated into legal education. Law schools must also collaborate closely with local NGOs in order to generate awareness of the impact of gender discriminatory laws and practices on the lives of ordinary men and women.
GALA was born to provide a platform for those committed to mainstreaming gender into legal education to strengthen their lone struggles by sharing knowledge, experiences, strategies and materials. We intend to create a vibrant network of teachers and advocates that will move forward together to meet the long unmet need of advocating for gender and legal education.