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US professor to help women in Kerala ‘Find Their Voices’

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : An American professor has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright scholarship for a project in Kerala focussing on helping women discover the power of their voices in all aspects of their lives.

Kathleen Mulligan, assistant professor of voice and speech in Department of Theatre Arts at Ithaca College, New York will work closely with the women’s centre at the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in Kochi as well as with adolescent girls in the community.

Through her “Finding Women’s Voices” project in the spring of 2010, she will learn about the communication challenges that women face in that culture, explore the ways in which those challenges are similar to those facing women in the US, the college announced.

“In many cultures around the globe, women receive messages from an early age about their voices and how they should sound and speak — or not speak — as the case may be,” said Mulligan.

“By being taught that they must speak softly and in a higher pitch, women are too often delegated to a position where they are quite literally not heard and certainly not listened to. Through breath support and tonal focus, women can access the natural vocal power we are all born with.”

In the Ithaca College theatre programme, Mulligan works with actors to develop their voices for the rigours of stage performance.

In recent years she has brought her vocal training to non-actors as well, as a way of giving confidence to and empowering those who do not feel they have a voice.