Perspectives From India & Chicago: Citizen Empowerment For Human Rights

Perspectives From India & Chicago: Citizen Empowerment For Human Rights

Perspectives is a solutions-oriented symposium of multi-media arts, academic experts and community conversations around human rights in India and in Chicago. The event will engage and educate Chicagoans on issues faced by women, children, and other vulnerable populations in India and parallel challenges in the city of Chicago. Parallels between the regions will be highlighted with an emphasis on promoting cross-cultural learning and engagement. Themes will include community led solutions to challenges in access to justice, education, and environmental resources.

Session 1, 12:00 – 4:00

Start with lunch and stay for panels and conversations with experts on human rights in India and Chicago.

Session 2, 4:00 – 7:00

Kick off the evening with a tasting of India’s famed outdoor culinary delicacies and explore human rights through visual snapshots of India and a live musical performance.

This event is FREE. Registration is required at Brown Paper Tickets.
Learn more at:
Questions? Contact us at:

Co-produced by ART WORKS Projects / India Development Service / WBEZ Worldview
Sponsored by The Chicago Community Trust


Human Rights:

Brian Citro is a Clinical Lecturer in Law and the Associate Director of the International Human Rights Clinic. He is also the Director of “Developing a Rights-Based Approach to TB in India,” a project funded by the University of Chicago Center in Delhi and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights. Among many experiences, he previously worked for two years in New Delhi, India, as a Senior Research Officer to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and Project Manager of the Global Health and Human Rights Database for the Lawyers Collective, HIV/AIDS Unit.

Asha Kowtal is the General Secretary of the National Dalit Women’s movement, called the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM), which works to promote and protect the rights of women who are subjected to caste and gender discrimination. Under her leadership, AIDMAM has undertaken significant activities including a National Tribunal on Justice for Dalit women, human rights training programs, and Dalit women self-respect marches. She is also the Convener of WinG-India (Women in Governance), addressing issues of conflict and structural violence against women in India.

Anisa Rahim is a public interest lawyer and writer. She has litigated in the areas of worker’s rights, language access and domestic violence in NJ where she worked closely with the South Asian women’s organization Manavi. She then worked at the Human Rights Law Network in New Delhi, India on reproductive rights and disability and taught courses at Jindal Global Law School. She is now pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Rutgers-Newark and works as Special Counsel at Legal Services of New Jersey.


Elaine Allensworth is the Lewis-Sebring Director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research, where she studies factors influencing student success and school improvement. Her research has been used to create student-tracking systems used in Chicago and districts across the country. She also conducts research in the areas of school leadership and school organization. She is one of the authors of the book, Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago, which provides a detailed analysis of school practices and community conditions which promote school improvement.

Renuka Gupta is CEO of the Pardada Pardadi Education Society (PPES), a non-profit operating schools for girls in rural India, and has over 25 years experience in the field of social work. PPES empowers community women from the poorest sections of society by providing free education for girls and job opportunities for women, breaking the cycle of poverty. Gupta previously worked in the sector in various different capacities ranging from policy and advocacy work to project management and strategic planning. Her expertise lies in the fields of education, child labor, health and gender.

Eric Reyes is a proud product of CPS, a parent of a CPS student, and the Vice-chairperson of the Local School Council at Telpochcalli Elementary School. His work in education has been driven by an interest in social justice. He holds an M.A. in Sociology and Education/Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University. There his graduate studies focused on school equity, dropout prevention, gender and schools, school discipline policies, charter schools, and education policy. Eric lives in Pilsen.


Fred Carter is co-founder of the Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living, working to transition to a post-carbon world. He is a certified teacher of Permaculture by the Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute. He was trained in photovoltaic & biodiesel by Solar Energy International and is certified as a Peak Oil Community Leader by the Community Solution. Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living is committed to Chicago and Pembroke communities by giving them tools and skills for the future.

Prakash Tyagi is the Executive Director of GRAVIS, a non-governmental organization in India that works on water conservation using rural techniques in over 1,300 villages in the Thar Desert, which gets less than 10 inches of rain each year. Dr. Tyagi is an established researcher, speaker and writer on global health and developmental issues with particular focuses on ageing and health, non-communicable diseases, HIV and TB and food and water security. His work ranges from a grass-root level to global levels in mentioned programmatic areas.

Moira Zellner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy at UIC. Before coming to the U.S., she worked in Argentina as a consultant on environmental issues for engineering firms and the city of Buenos Aires, in projects related to hazardous waste management, river remediation, pollution control, and environmental impact assessments. In the United States, Moira’s professional work includes greenway development and river restoration projects in Miami Beach and in California, and transportation surveys.

Cultural presentation by Guruprasad Kathavate, Classical Karnatik player