Sikh Women At The Bristol Gurdwara: We’re Not Going Anywhere

In a recent post, Camille asked important questions around growing Sikh female leadership/representation, rather than just managing it. At the heart of leadership in any organization is decision-making. A critical component of growing Sikh female-leadership/representation is giving access to decision-making spaces that are commonly occupied by Sikh men and incorporating female perspectives into decision-making. Thus, you will see the strongest battles for gender equity in Sikh organizations tend to be fought around decision-making power. A recent example of such a battle was at a Gurdwara in Bristol, U.K. where two factions were fighting over allowing women to take part in Gurdwara elections. Women were demanding the right to vote while also running for committee-member seats. This past Sunday during Gurdwara management-committee elections, both factions broke out into a riot over allowing 79 women to vote past the registration deadline.

According to the Daily Mail:

Six riot vans were dispatched to close the road in Fishponds, Bristol, and one man was arrested and cautioned for a public order offence during the seven-hour stand-off.

Voting finally finished at 4pm and resulted in three women being voted onto the management committee for the first time in the temple’s history.

The trigger for the riot was when one man frustrated by the situation started trouble inside the Gurdwara that spilled out onto the street where “women were blocking his car and trying to push it over while he was still inside clinging to the steering wheel.

An elderly women at the site reported a crowd of mainly women and children stood on one side of the road and men on the other. They were fronting each other up and shouting abuse across the road. The women were screaming ‘we’re not going anywhere’.

At the end of this unfortunate drama, women made it clear that they were not going to be intimidated from being part of decision-making at the Gurdwara. As part of the 650-member sangat they fought to ensure representation in decision-making through two key avenues: voting and harnessing leadership positions. As Satjeevan Kaur stated: “We are going to be equal to men and to make decisions equal to the men.

The article did not give much information on the male-experience of this riot or the legitimacy of the over-due voting registration deadline argument. For example, were there attempts to build coalitions across gender lines? Were any males acting as allies? Were the women just pushing their weight around by playing the gender card? The reporter only said: There are allegations of malpractice on both sides I hope some of our U.K. readers can help provide more nuanced insights into these issues.

So, back to the question Camille asked in her post how can we expand the possibilities and pathways for Sikh female leadership/representation in Sikh organizations rather than relying on masculinized models of leadership unfortunately in Bristol you just have to show a man that you will tip his car over with him in it!


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43 Responses to “Sikh Women At The Bristol Gurdwara: We’re Not Going Anywhere”

  1. JASWINDER KAUR says:

    I live in London and am absolutely appalled that sikh women were not allowed to vote or take part in the committe elections. The sikh gurudawara should be ashamed of them themselves and their charity status should be taken away as surely they are guilty of discrimination and have obviously never heard of the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act. If any of these women woment legal advice I would be more than happy to give it them. Shame on the Bristol Gurudwara– the sikh women sangat should boycott it !!! and refuse to cook langar I say !!

    jaswinder kaur

  2. Singh says:

    This is an important story.. but I am wondering why the story of A CORRUPT POLITICIAN EFFECTIVELY FORCING THE JATHEDAR OF THE AKAL TAKHT TO RESIGN was not considered important enough to discuss today on the langar hall?

  3. JASWINDER KAUR says:

    I live in London and am absolutely appalled that sikh women were not allowed to vote or take part in the committe elections. The sikh gurudawara should be ashamed of them themselves and their charity status should be taken away as surely they are guilty of discrimination and have obviously never heard of the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act. If any of these women woment legal advice I would be more than happy to give it them. Shame on the Bristol Gurudwara– the sikh women sangat should boycott it !!! and refuse to cook langar I say !!

    jaswinder kaur

  4. Singh says:

    This is an important story.. but I am wondering why the story of A CORRUPT POLITICIAN EFFECTIVELY FORCING THE JATHEDAR OF THE AKAL TAKHT TO RESIGN was not considered important enough to discuss today on the langar hall?

  5. Manjit Singh says:

    This is great they stood up to fight for their right that Guru Sahib gave them 500 years ago! As a man, I salute these brave daughters of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib and probably would have been standing on their side! More please but lets keep it peaceful! I live in US, but in a lot of Gurdwaras, I guess the men take the jobs of sevadaars for guaranteed for themselves and deny this right to women and even children which should be actually leading the sangat than adults. I guess they don't really understand and follow the real messages of Gurbani about men and women equality, compassion, respect towards women, but instead just do the ritualistic job of maintaining the Gurdwara!

  6. JASWINDER KAUR says:

    To Manjit Singh and others

    with respect , sikh women have really not been treated equally. Yes Guru Nanak and Gurbani says good things about women and undoubtably raised their social status but so far as sikh history is concerned women on the whole did not even receive amrit until mid 18th century. The Akal Takhat has a problem with sikh women doing seva actually. It is only a hand ful of gurudawara's in the west that have women on committee's . But the attitude and actions of the Bristol Gurudawar is unforgivable . In fact I think I am going to report them to the Charities Commission and the Race and Equlity Commission.

    Jaswinder Kaur

  7. Camille says:

    Singh, we've been working on that story, as well — you should see an analysis posted around midday (PST). Patience, sir, patience; there is sometimes an element of coordination in when posts go up. :)

  8. Manjit Singh says:

    This is great they stood up to fight for their right that Guru Sahib gave them 500 years ago! As a man, I salute these brave daughters of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib and probably would have been standing on their side! More please but lets keep it peaceful! I live in US, but in a lot of Gurdwaras, I guess the men take the jobs of sevadaars for guaranteed for themselves and deny this right to women and even children which should be actually leading the sangat than adults. I guess they don’t really understand and follow the real messages of Gurbani about men and women equality, compassion, respect towards women, but instead just do the ritualistic job of maintaining the Gurdwara!

  9. JASWINDER KAUR says:

    To Manjit Singh and others

    with respect , sikh women have really not been treated equally. Yes Guru Nanak and Gurbani says good things about women and undoubtably raised their social status but so far as sikh history is concerned women on the whole did not even receive amrit until mid 18th century. The Akal Takhat has a problem with sikh women doing seva actually. It is only a hand ful of gurudawara’s in the west that have women on committee’s . But the attitude and actions of the Bristol Gurudawar is unforgivable . In fact I think I am going to report them to the Charities Commission and the Race and Equlity Commission.

    Jaswinder Kaur

  10. Camille says:

    Singh, we’ve been working on that story, as well — you should see an analysis posted around midday (PST). Patience, sir, patience; there is sometimes an element of coordination in when posts go up. :)

  11. Miss Kaur says:

    Hello I am a young female sikh and was also present at the Gurudwara on Sunday 5th August wanting to vote. What the papers say about women not being able to vote is untrue, I was there and knew what was happening in the whole process. This is what really happened, there were two parties being led and I was voting for one of them, the other side had got all there members voting cards sent in the post to them.These cards enabled us to vote. The people on the other party including me had been promised to go to the Gurudwara on Wednesday and we could collect our cards from there, me and lots of other people all on the same side when for two days, we sat in the Gurudwara and waited and waited and every day they didnt turn up, on the election they promised once again in front of the Guru Granth Sahib to give our cards, but they just refused. First of all this wore our patients short, but I agree what happened was stupidity. The fact was the other side wasnt being fair, so what my side decided to do was to not vote at all and so in the end only the opposition voted, resulting them in winning. When everything cooled down, one idiot from the other side, decided to bring there own family enimity into it, one of the male voters spat on the oppositions daughter in law and drove off this caused an uproar and all the females family members ran afte the car, this resulted in the car being chased and the culprit being arrested.

    Yes I know its shameful but if that was ur sister, wife, daughter or daughter in law being spat on for reasons they do not know of, then I would make sure I would teach them a lesson.

    About the shamefulness I also agree what happened brings disgrace and shame to our sikhi, but I was also one of those women who was denied the vote to right!! The party that has won, is doing it for the wrong reasons and its just an easy way to scam money out of the Gurudwara, what would you do just let your Gurudwara fall into the hands of drug dealers and people who sin on a daily basis and suddenly became a saint every Sunday morning I dont think so !!

  12. Miss Kaur says:

    Hello I am a young female sikh and was also present at the Gurudwara on Sunday 5th August wanting to vote. What the papers say about women not being able to vote is untrue, I was there and knew what was happening in the whole process. This is what really happened, there were two parties being led and I was voting for one of them, the other side had got all there members voting cards sent in the post to them.These cards enabled us to vote. The people on the other party including me had been promised to go to the Gurudwara on Wednesday and we could collect our cards from there, me and lots of other people all on the same side when for two days, we sat in the Gurudwara and waited and waited and every day they didnt turn up, on the election they promised once again in front of the Guru Granth Sahib to give our cards, but they just refused. First of all this wore our patients short, but I agree what happened was stupidity. The fact was the other side wasnt being fair, so what my side decided to do was to not vote at all and so in the end only the opposition voted, resulting them in winning. When everything cooled down, one idiot from the other side, decided to bring there own family enimity into it, one of the male voters spat on the oppositions daughter in law and drove off this caused an uproar and all the females family members ran afte the car, this resulted in the car being chased and the culprit being arrested.

    Yes I know its shameful but if that was ur sister, wife, daughter or daughter in law being spat on for reasons they do not know of, then I would make sure I would teach them a lesson.

    About the shamefulness I also agree what happened brings disgrace and shame to our sikhi, but I was also one of those women who was denied the vote to right!! The party that has won, is doing it for the wrong reasons and its just an easy way to scam money out of the Gurudwara, what would you do just let your Gurudwara fall into the hands of drug dealers and people who sin on a daily basis and suddenly became a saint every Sunday morning I dont think so !!

  13. JASWINDER KAUR says:

    Dear Miss Kaur

    Its good of you to tell us what really happened but still very very sad and wrong how this election was conducted. It is apalling how this man acted and you were quite right to protest. I do hope that the new managemnet committee (is it correct they now have women on committee) will put things right and seek an apology from the idiots who insulted and abused this women.

    I still think you should involve the charities commission. Do not forget all gurudawara (most) are registered charities and have to abide by charity commission rules.

    I think all you sisters and sangat did right to protest and I (we) are proud of you

    Jaswinder Kaur

  14. JASWINDER KAUR says:

    Dear Miss Kaur

    Its good of you to tell us what really happened but still very very sad and wrong how this election was conducted. It is apalling how this man acted and you were quite right to protest. I do hope that the new managemnet committee (is it correct they now have women on committee) will put things right and seek an apology from the idiots who insulted and abused this women.
    I still think you should involve the charities commission. Do not forget all gurudawara (most) are registered charities and have to abide by charity commission rules.

    I think all you sisters and sangat did right to protest and I (we) are proud of you

    Jaswinder Kaur

  15. Phulkari says:

    Miss Kaur,

    Thank you for sharing your insight! It helps to bring more nuance to the situation because rarely are fights like these black and white.

    It would be great if you could share more information. After reading the article and your comment I am left wondering a few things.

    1) The Daily Mail reported that an elderly woman said: “… a crowd of mainly women and children stood on one side of the road and men on the other. They were fronting each other up and shouting abuse across the road. The women were screaming ‘we’re not going anywhere’. Is this gender division amongst the adults representative of how the two factions are made-up (men vs. women) at Bristol Gurdwara?

    2) Could you also provide us more insight into the three women who won the committee seats. Are they part of the larger party who won the most seats?

    3) If the issue was not around voting I am left wondering why no men were reported as saying they were not allowed to vote? Is it just journalistic sensationalism or is there something else going on? Your perspective would be greatly appreciated!

  16. Phulkari says:

    Miss Kaur,

    Thank you for sharing your insight! It helps to bring more nuance to the situation because rarely are fights like these black and white.

    It would be great if you could share more information. After reading the article and your comment I am left wondering a few things.

    1) The Daily Mail reported that an elderly woman said: a crowd of mainly women and children stood on one side of the road and men on the other. They were fronting each other up and shouting abuse across the road. The women were screaming were not going anywhere. Is this gender division amongst the adults representative of how the two factions are made-up (men vs. women) at Bristol Gurdwara?

    2) Could you also provide us more insight into the three women who won the committee seats. Are they part of the larger party who won the most seats?

    3) If the issue was not around voting I am left wondering why no men were reported as saying they were not allowed to vote? Is it just journalistic sensationalism or is there something else going on? Your perspective would be greatly appreciated!

  17. I have solution for good.The constitution of Gurdawa be changed.

    That 50% of all management members have to be women elected or not.

    In any election 50% must be reserved for male members 50% for female.

    25% memebers should be college students on both sides.

    (Abbotsford BC Canada)

    Recently I was approached for 5 acres of land for a new gurdawara when they asked me what would I want?I offered to give the land free.But with condition.As above.

    the constitution will be that 25% female Adults 25% female students and same for the male side.

    All donation amount to be posted on the computer in the sangat access and any amount spent will be posted the same way.The gurduwara will pay rent every month that will be given back at the same time provided the elected membership is constitutes as was stated.No fights take place in the temple. If they deviate from the constitution the Rent will not go back to gurdawara but will be put into a saving account.That will be returned only when it starts to function normal again. Guess what ? No one came back for the land.

  18. I have solution for good.The constitution of Gurdawa be changed.
    That 50% of all management members have to be women elected or not.
    In any election 50% must be reserved for male members 50% for female.
    25% memebers should be college students on both sides.
    (Abbotsford BC Canada)
    Recently I was approached for 5 acres of land for a new gurdawara when they asked me what would I want?I offered to give the land free.But with condition.As above.
    the constitution will be that 25% female Adults 25% female students and same for the male side.
    All donation amount to be posted on the computer in the sangat access and any amount spent will be posted the same way.The gurduwara will pay rent every month that will be given back at the same time provided the elected membership is constitutes as was stated.No fights take place in the temple. If they deviate from the constitution the Rent will not go back to gurdawara but will be put into a saving account.That will be returned only when it starts to function normal again. Guess what ? No one came back for the land.

  19. JASWINDER KAUR says:

    Dear Mr Maan

    That is really brilliant— If I were in canada I would honestly take this land of yours for a gurudawara !!!!

    Well done

  20. JASWINDER KAUR says:

    Dear Mr Maan

    That is really brilliant— If I were in canada I would honestly take this land of yours for a gurudawara !!!!

    Well done

  21. Phulkari says:

    Interesting idea and a commendable effort Mr. Mann! It's very unfortunate no one took you up on your offer or even tried to negotiate with you, particularly when 5 acres of land is available. Usually when it comes to land … Punjabi Sikhs are all over it! Granted I do not know both sides of the story, but from what you write it seems like gender biases maybe even stronger than our desire for land.

    I have heard others agree with you an affirmative action approach is needed to reach true gender equity in our Sikh organizations. You argue for concretely institutionalizing preferential treatment through a quota system.

    Another form of affirmative action would be giving preferential treatment to women, but not necessarily by setting aside a specific number/percentage of seats. For example, a woman would be given preferential treatment when filling decision-making spots over a man even if her qualifications were a little less than his (i.e. only if women with equal qualifications were not available), but 2 spots would not be saved for women out of a total of 4 spots. The argument for a “little less” qualifications is that historical discrimination has prevented a large number of women from having access to opportunities to develop as equal or more qualifications than men (i.e. that is why many are not available). An additional aspect would be the necessity to bring on these women with "less" qualifications, because the responsibility is upon Sikh organizations to grow female leadership by providing opportunities to gain more qualifications in the very organizations they have historically been discriminated against (i.e. they should not have to go anywhere else to gain qualifications). An argument could be made that the quota system may be too restrictive in finding enough qualified applicants to fill all the spots, particularly when large number of “qualified” men are available.

    However, one reason for a quota system would be to ensure an equal number of women are part of the decision-making process term after term because if it’s just left up to preferential treatment then only one woman may be accepted to be part of a group of 10 men. Thus, the power difference would not be equalized and she may just become a “token” than a genuine part of the decision-making. Plus, why not bring on more equally qualified women they exist but just have not been given equal opportunity to be part Sikh organizational systems. I apologize for the long-winded explanation! :)

    Thus, Mr. Mann, I am very interested in your reasons for a quota system? Do you think it is absolutely necessary to have a quota system to achieve gender equity in a Sikh organization over just plain preferential treatment? Why or why not?

    Anyone else is also welcome to chime in on this affirmative action issue with your own perspectives … if you agree with it or not! :)

  22. Mewa Singh says:

    An affirmative action system for volunteer organizations? Sikh women are 'less' qualified than Sikh men in volunteer organizations that serve the Sikh community? What exactly is the conversation?

  23. Phulkari says:

    Interesting idea and a commendable effort Mr. Mann! It’s very unfortunate no one took you up on your offer or even tried to negotiate with you, particularly when 5 acres of land is available. Usually when it comes to land … Punjabi Sikhs are all over it! Granted I do not know both sides of the story, but from what you write it seems like gender biases maybe even stronger than our desire for land.

    I have heard others agree with you an affirmative action approach is needed to reach true gender equity in our Sikh organizations. You argue for concretely institutionalizing preferential treatment through a quota system.

    Another form of affirmative action would be giving preferential treatment to women, but not necessarily by setting aside a specific number/percentage of seats. For example, a woman would be given preferential treatment when filling decision-making spots over a man even if her qualifications were a little less than his (i.e. only if women with equal qualifications were not available), but 2 spots would not be saved for women out of a total of 4 spots. The argument for a little less qualifications is that historical discrimination has prevented a large number of women from having access to opportunities to develop as equal or more qualifications than men (i.e. that is why many are not available). An additional aspect would be the necessity to bring on these women with “less” qualifications, because the responsibility is upon Sikh organizations to grow female leadership by providing opportunities to gain more qualifications in the very organizations they have historically been discriminated against (i.e. they should not have to go anywhere else to gain qualifications). An argument could be made that the quota system may be too restrictive in finding enough qualified applicants to fill all the spots, particularly when large number of qualified men are available.

    However, one reason for a quota system would be to ensure an equal number of women are part of the decision-making process term after term because if its just left up to preferential treatment then only one woman may be accepted to be part of a group of 10 men. Thus, the power difference would not be equalized and she may just become a token than a genuine part of the decision-making. Plus, why not bring on more equally qualified women they exist but just have not been given equal opportunity to be part Sikh organizational systems. I apologize for the long-winded explanation! :)

    Thus, Mr. Mann, I am very interested in your reasons for a quota system? Do you think it is absolutely necessary to have a quota system to achieve gender equity in a Sikh organization over just plain preferential treatment? Why or why not?

    Anyone else is also welcome to chime in on this affirmative action issue with your own perspectives … if you agree with it or not! :)

  24. Mewa Singh says:

    An affirmative action system for volunteer organizations? Sikh women are ‘less’ qualified than Sikh men in volunteer organizations that serve the Sikh community? What exactly is the conversation?

  25. Phulkari says:

    Mewa Singh,

    The conversation is about bringing more women into decision-making roles in Sikh volunteer organizations in order to have more gender equity. We recognize that Sikh women make-up large percentages of the membership of these organizations and tend to be their back-bone, but why don’t we have more Sikh women in leadership roles around decision-making as we do men. One solution that has been suggested, for example, by Mr. Mann and others is an affirmative action approach. Some examples of affirmative action approaches are: preferential treatment with a quota system and preferential treatment without a quota system.

    When taking into consideration these forms of affirmative action, we must also consider possible arguments for why women are not in these leadership roles. Some arguments I have heard in discussions around why there are not more women in decision-making roles in Sikh organizations are:

    (a) There are not many women in these decision-making roles (i.e. in gurdwara committees and service organizations) because they do not have the qualifications or experience. It's not that they shouldn’t be allowed to … it's just that they don't have the qualifications or experience to do so. One possible reason they do not have these qualifications or experience is that they historically have been discriminated from having access to opportunities to gain these skills in the context of Sikh organizations.

    (b) Many women do have the qualifications and experience, but have been historically discriminated against from being part of decision-making in Sikh organizations.

    When exploring possible affirmative action approaches and given these reasons, amongst others, for why there are not many women in decision-making roles in Sikh organizations, why should we chose some possible approaches versus others? Some reasons for these approaches were given in my previous comment. I am interested in Mr. Mann’s perspective around the quota system he suggested. What are the thoughts of others around quota systems and other approaches? Should we even have an affirmative action approach?

    I hope this adds clarification to this conversation not being about women as inherently “less” qualified than men to serve in Sikh organizations.

  26. Mewa Singh says:

    Phulkari,

    What Gurdwara has an application process that looks at "qualifications"? I have yet to see one.

    I label myself as a feminist, but I do believe that "blanket" feminist arguments derived from other cultural experiences and situations do not describe all circumstances. One size does not fit all.

  27. Phulkari says:

    Mewa Singh,

    The conversation is about bringing more women into decision-making roles in Sikh volunteer organizations in order to have more gender equity. We recognize that Sikh women make-up large percentages of the membership of these organizations and tend to be their back-bone, but why dont we have more Sikh women in leadership roles around decision-making as we do men. One solution that has been suggested, for example, by Mr. Mann and others is an affirmative action approach. Some examples of affirmative action approaches are: preferential treatment with a quota system and preferential treatment without a quota system.

    When taking into consideration these forms of affirmative action, we must also consider possible arguments for why women are not in these leadership roles. Some arguments I have heard in discussions around why there are not more women in decision-making roles in Sikh organizations are:

    (a) There are not many women in these decision-making roles (i.e. in gurdwara committees and service organizations) because they do not have the qualifications or experience. It’s not that they shouldnt be allowed to … it’s just that they don’t have the qualifications or experience to do so. One possible reason they do not have these qualifications or experience is that they historically have been discriminated from having access to opportunities to gain these skills in the context of Sikh organizations.

    (b) Many women do have the qualifications and experience, but have been historically discriminated against from being part of decision-making in Sikh organizations.

    When exploring possible affirmative action approaches and given these reasons, amongst others, for why there are not many women in decision-making roles in Sikh organizations, why should we chose some possible approaches versus others? Some reasons for these approaches were given in my previous comment. I am interested in Mr. Manns perspective around the quota system he suggested. What are the thoughts of others around quota systems and other approaches? Should we even have an affirmative action approach?

    I hope this adds clarification to this conversation not being about women as inherently less qualified than men to serve in Sikh organizations.

  28. Mewa Singh says:

    Phulkari,

    What Gurdwara has an application process that looks at “qualifications”? I have yet to see one.

    I label myself as a feminist, but I do believe that “blanket” feminist arguments derived from other cultural experiences and situations do not describe all circumstances. One size does not fit all.

  29. Phulkari says:

    Mewa Singh,

    You're right "blanket" feminist arguments do not describe all circumstances. Many women of color/developing world feminist (a.k.a. third world feminism) have stated that for many years. Yes, one size does not fit all. But how does your argument fit into this discussion on the use of affirmative action and other approaches of preferential treatment within the Sikh community? Do you believe the basis of affirmative action or other preferential treatment approaches is "blanket" feminism and can in no way be part of a possible solution to bring more gender equity into Sikh organizations? Why or why not? If you agree or disagree or anything else, could you please explain yourself so it could be better understood where you are coming from.

    Of course no Gurdwara that I know of has an application process that "looks" at qualifications, but you don't need an application to “judge” someone's qualifications either. Qualifications are judged by people when they vote for committee members and give other forms of support to a particular candidate or not. What some people call “qualifications” and “experience” aren’t what we would typically write in an application. They can range from being part of the more “powerful” party, to being married to a particular person, to having a specific occupation or gender. The way these arguments are often justified by others is that if you don’t have these “qualifications” then somehow you lack leadership skills similar to the one’s that could be written down in an application. Personally, I have always questioned these arguments because they seem to be a cover-up for deeper assumptions. In addition, this “qualification” argument also can center on a hierarchy attributed to gender roles (i.e. men run households not women … women make small decisions not big ones … women have more responsibilities to their children/families that require them to be home). I am talking about Gurdwaras here … other Sikh service organizations still have gender equity issues, but the dynamics can be somewhat different.

    Please keep in mind some people also make the argument that women have all the qualifications, experiences, and skills to be decision-makers in non-profit organizations … they just have been historically discriminated against from practicing them in Sikh organizations. Thus, this “qualification” argument isn’t always about “lacking” something, but also having it all and not being allowed to practice it in a specific domain.

    So question remains … how do we bring more gender equity into our Sikh organizations (i.e. non-profit organizations created to serve) around decision-making? Affirmative action, preferential treatment through reservation systems similar to those that have been used in India and Rwanda, or none of the above? Do we need to think about something else?

  30. Mewa Singh says:

    Phulkari,

    Instead of talking in generalities, name me a Sikh organization (non-Gurdwara) in the diaspora that has 'historically discriminated' against women.

    Yes, I believe that affirmative action policies will not work in the Sikh community. To believe that they would work is to seriously misread the functioning of Punjabi Sikh organizations. Any 'women's seats' would be occupied by a President's wife, sister, etc. Youth committees have much more possibilities.

    Regarding, "qualifications" you have stretched the meaning of the word so far to make it useless. Thus there are no qualifications needed, except a vote bank that usually draws on kith and kinship ties.

    I think your question deserves a serious consideration, but your proposals seems so disconnected from reality.

  31. Phulkari says:

    I would like to apologize to all readers for my misuse of semantics when discussing Affirmative Action.

    In the United States, legally quotas systems were found to be unjust in the 1976 case of Bakke v. Regents of the University of California. Thus, I apologize for conflating affirmative action approaches through quota systems with reservation systems. A reservation system is more possible in the United States and I should have used that terminology than quota system (legally not possible). Philosophically quotas and reservations come from the same place, but how they are implemented varies.

    When I write about quotas … I mean reservation systems as used in India and Rwanda. Sorry for the confusion! :)

  32. Phulkari says:

    Mewa Singh,

    You’re right “blanket” feminist arguments do not describe all circumstances. Many women of color/developing world feminist (a.k.a. third world feminism) have stated that for many years. Yes, one size does not fit all. But how does your argument fit into this discussion on the use of affirmative action and other approaches of preferential treatment within the Sikh community? Do you believe the basis of affirmative action or other preferential treatment approaches is “blanket” feminism and can in no way be part of a possible solution to bring more gender equity into Sikh organizations? Why or why not? If you agree or disagree or anything else, could you please explain yourself so it could be better understood where you are coming from.

    Of course no Gurdwara that I know of has an application process that “looks” at qualifications, but you don’t need an application to judge someone’s qualifications either. Qualifications are judged by people when they vote for committee members and give other forms of support to a particular candidate or not. What some people call qualifications and experience arent what we would typically write in an application. They can range from being part of the more powerful party, to being married to a particular person, to having a specific occupation or gender. The way these arguments are often justified by others is that if you dont have these qualifications then somehow you lack leadership skills similar to the ones that could be written down in an application. Personally, I have always questioned these arguments because they seem to be a cover-up for deeper assumptions. In addition, this qualification argument also can center on a hierarchy attributed to gender roles (i.e. men run households not women women make small decisions not big ones women have more responsibilities to their children/families that require them to be home). I am talking about Gurdwaras here other Sikh service organizations still have gender equity issues, but the dynamics can be somewhat different.

    Please keep in mind some people also make the argument that women have all the qualifications, experiences, and skills to be decision-makers in non-profit organizations they just have been historically discriminated against from practicing them in Sikh organizations. Thus, this qualification argument isnt always about lacking something, but also having it all and not being allowed to practice it in a specific domain.

    So question remains how do we bring more gender equity into our Sikh organizations (i.e. non-profit organizations created to serve) around decision-making? Affirmative action, preferential treatment through reservation systems similar to those that have been used in India and Rwanda, or none of the above? Do we need to think about something else?

  33. Mewa Singh says:

    Phulkari,

    Instead of talking in generalities, name me a Sikh organization (non-Gurdwara) in the diaspora that has ‘historically discriminated’ against women.

    Yes, I believe that affirmative action policies will not work in the Sikh community. To believe that they would work is to seriously misread the functioning of Punjabi Sikh organizations. Any ‘women’s seats’ would be occupied by a President’s wife, sister, etc. Youth committees have much more possibilities.

    Regarding, “qualifications” you have stretched the meaning of the word so far to make it useless. Thus there are no qualifications needed, except a vote bank that usually draws on kith and kinship ties.

    I think your question deserves a serious consideration, but your proposals seems so disconnected from reality.

  34. Phulkari says:

    I would like to apologize to all readers for my misuse of semantics when discussing Affirmative Action.

    In the United States, legally quotas systems were found to be unjust in the 1976 case of Bakke v. Regents of the University of California. Thus, I apologize for conflating affirmative action approaches through quota systems with reservation systems. A reservation system is more possible in the United States and I should have used that terminology than quota system (legally not possible). Philosophically quotas and reservations come from the same place, but how they are implemented varies.

    When I write about quotas … I mean reservation systems as used in India and Rwanda. Sorry for the confusion! :)

  35. Ranjit Kaur says:

    I have read this story and I am so sad and sick and tired by the way we have become. Almost every Gurdwara you go there is a dispute of some kind. Women not allowed to do this and that, a committee members doing this that and another, etc, etc.

    God we should be ashamed of ourselves, a Gurdwara should be a place of peace and tranquillity. We have Guru Ji there and we treat it with so much disrespect!!!!! Now don’t get me wrong if there is an injustice it should be challenged I totally agree, HOWEVER, there is a time, a place and a manner. I don’t know the ins and outs of this story but no doubt there will be another sorry tale that we hear soon.

    Why do you guys think that Guru ji but their lives on the line sacrificed so much– for us, and yet we treat the Gurdwara where their messages are preached like this?!? Lets not forget that the 11th Guru is thier Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. WE SHOULD HOLD OUR HEADS IN SHAME.

  36. Ranjit Kaur says:

    I have read this story and I am so sad and sick and tired by the way we have become. Almost every Gurdwara you go there is a dispute of some kind. Women not allowed to do this and that, a committee members doing this that and another, etc, etc.

    God we should be ashamed of ourselves, a Gurdwara should be a place of peace and tranquillity. We have Guru Ji there and we treat it with so much disrespect!!!!! Now dont get me wrong if there is an injustice it should be challenged I totally agree, HOWEVER, there is a time, a place and a manner. I dont know the ins and outs of this story but no doubt there will be another sorry tale that we hear soon.

    Why do you guys think that Guru ji but their lives on the line sacrificed so much for us, and yet we treat the Gurdwara where their messages are preached like this?!? Lets not forget that the 11th Guru is thier Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. WE SHOULD HOLD OUR HEADS IN SHAME.

  37. Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Fateh

    This is a great story that I really enjoyed writing up, now published in The Sikh Times.

    Sikh Women Gain Voting Rights at Bristol Gurdwara

    http://sikhtimes.com/news_083108a.html

  38. Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Fateh

    This is a great story that I really enjoyed writing up, now published in The Sikh Times.

    Sikh Women Gain Voting Rights at Bristol Gurdwara

    http://sikhtimes.com/news_083108a.html

  39. […] I would love to hear more information about these incidents, if any of our readers can share. Sounds like something similar to a previous discussion. […]

  40. BOB says:

    HI I NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT GURDWARA'S IN THE UNITED KINGDOM FOR A PROJECT AT SCHOOL AND WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE IT IF SOME ONE COULD E-MAIL ME ON [email protected] I AM THINKING ABOUT BECOMING A SIKH AND FOLLOWING THE 10 GURUS SO I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE ANY HELP GIVEN.

    THANK-YOU FOR EVERYTHING

    BOB

    XX

  41. BOB says:

    HI I NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT GURDWARA’S IN THE UNITED KINGDOM FOR A PROJECT AT SCHOOL AND WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE IT IF SOME ONE COULD E-MAIL ME ON [email protected] I AM THINKING ABOUT BECOMING A SIKH AND FOLLOWING THE 10 GURUS SO I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE ANY HELP GIVEN.
    THANK-YOU FOR EVERYTHING
    BOB
    XX

  42. yoyo says:

    i think that sikhs stop womens right am i right y/n :) :] (^^^)

  43. yoyo says:

    i think that sikhs stop womens right am i right y/n :) :] (^^^)