Promoting Gender Inclusivity And Harassment Free Work Environment
It is the matter of pride for the society that women have been succeeded in all the fields as pilot, teacher, driver, doctor, advocate, judge, engineer, manager, CEO, astrologer, etc. but still there are barriers for the personal and career development of women. Gujarat Technological University (GTU) is engaged in imparting education in the fields like engineering, management, pharmacy, architecture, computer application etc. The case emphasize on promoting gender inclusivity and harassment free work environment at the university. Women candidates are not required to pay any application fee as per the recruitment policy of the university.
The university has constituted Women Development Cell (WDC) and instructed all affiliated colleges to establish collegiate Women Development Committee. The objective is to protect the rights of women and provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and information. The general inclusivity policy and harassment free work environment has created a good image of the university and earned a loyalty from all the stake holders of the society.
General Inclusivity, Women Development Cell (WDC), Sexual harassment, Gender Discrimination, Women Empowerment
Men and women both are two sides of a coin. They both are complementary to each other. In India women are respected and possess equal role in all the fields of life and society. Today there is lot of change in the society that women have come ahead in the fields such as pilot, teacher, driver, conductor, doctor, advocate, judge, engineer, manager, CEO, astrologer, pharmacist, nurse, politician, police and even in Arms forces women are motivated to contribute to the development of the nation. India has a history of women as Prime Minister, President, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of opposition, etc.
We read every day the news about rape and murder of women.There is still existence of male dominance in the society in which women are not allowed to take decisions about their own life. Women are not allowed to get higher education. They have to stay at home to take care of her small brother and sister because of the poverty. Earlier women are supposed to do only housekeeping work and take care of children. The importance is given to the birth of male child which has created imbalance of gender and in some of the caste like Patel there is acute shortage of brides for marriage and the situation has become worst The contamination of child marriage, infanticide and tradition of dowry still persist which prevent the birth of female child. Gradually this situation has changed due to education and technology.
Objectives of the Case
There is a need for more involvement of women work force in the formalized sector. Despite many political and industrial forum, mandated government policies, wide spread discussion of media the issue of gender inclusivity continues to remain unresolved. The main objectives of the case are:
' To understand various concepts such as gender inclusivity, gender discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, etc.
' To showcase the efforts of Gujarat Technological University towards promoting gender inclusivity and harassment free work environment through Women Development Cell (WDC)
' Inspiring other organizations for gender sensitization activities and sustaining healthy and stable working environment.
' To establish a good reputation in the society by giving optimum satisfaction to all its stakeholders.
Background of Gujarat Technological University
Gujarat Technological University popularly known as 'GTU' was established under the Gujarat Act No. 20 in 2007 passed in the state legislative assembly. The government consolidated all technical colleges except formal universities' own departments. GTU is engaged in imparting education in the fields of engineering, management, pharmacy, architecture, computer science, hotel management and catering technology, etc. It has more than 480 affiliated colleges and institutes across Gujarat State. It has become a Centre of learning along with the administrative structure. It organizes conferences, workshops, Seminars, Competitions, Faculty Development Programmes, Centralized assessment of dissertation or thesis of post graduate degrees.
The university started its work from ACPC building located near L. D. College of Engineering in just three rooms and with just few government officers appointed on deputation by the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE). The officers had high level of workload as there was shortage of staff. In November 2013 it started its work at new premises at Chandkheda. The University has established 14 Post Graduate Research Centers in various fields such as Financial Services, Global Business Studies, Marketing Excellence, Business Ethics & Corporate Social Responsibility, Governance System, Mobile Communication and Wireless Technology, etc. The work of the research Centre is to undertake research activities in their respective domain.
The university has 149 employees excluding daily wagers. Many a times it happens that the aggrieved woman does not know where to make complaint about harassment. The university has established Women Development Cell. It has also instructed affiliated colleges to establish women development committee. It has taken many initiatives to promote gender inclusivity at the university as well as at affiliated college level. It organizes workshop, seminars and training for the development of women. But still a lot of work need to be done.
1. Gender Inclusivity
Inclusive means covering or intended to cover all the sections. Gender inclusivity means proportionate number of male and female on the jobs or positions. Hence, gender inclusivity means maintaining proportionate balance of the gender on various positions of the university.
2. Gender Discrimination
Creating difference based on sex or gender in employment or in education. Employment discrimination includes in recruitment, promotion, transfer, termination, etc. Education discrimination includes in admission, examination, etc.
It is the range of behavior which is offensive in nature and commonly understood as behavior intended to disturb or upset the person. In legal terms, it is intentional behavior which is found threatening and disturbing. Harassment is a form of employment discrimination which involves discriminatory treatment on the basis of gender, caste, religion, color, national origin, disability, physical size or weight, family status, marital status etc. Harassment at job place can take place in a variety of forms. Work place harassment can be defined as any unwelcome verbal or physical conduct which is offensive as to alter the terms and conditions of employment.
Harassment is any behavior that degrades, demeans, humiliates or embarrasses a person which is unwelcomed by that person includes actions (touching, pushing), comments (jokes, name calling) or displays (posters, cartoons).
4. Sexual Harassment
The Supreme Court of India issued certain guidelines on Sexual Harassment which are popularly known as Vishakha guidelines. Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behavior (whether directly or by implication) as:
Physical contact and advances; b) a demand or request for sexual favors; c) sexually colored remarks; d) showing pornography; e) any other unwelcome physical verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
5. Women Empowerment
Empowerment means increasing the economic, social, political, educational, gender or spiritual strength of and individual or a group. Empowerment also include encouraging and developing the skills for self-sufficiency in the individual or group. It increases confidence in its own capabilities.
As per the United National Development Fund for women (UNIFEM), the term women empowerment means:
' Acquiring knowledge and understanding of gender relations and the ways in which these relations may be changed.
' Developing a sense of self-worth, a belief in one's ability to secure desired changes and the right to control one's life.
' Gaining the ability to generate choices exercise bargaining power.
' Developing the ability to organize and influence the direction of social change, to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and internationally.
Types of work place Harassment
There are two types of workplace harassment one is related to change in employment status and another is related change in working environment.
Change in employment status includes hiring, termination, promotion, demotion, undesirable reassignment of work, and change in compensation benefits. It is often done by the superiors because they are in a position to make such kind of decisions.
Change in working environment results in so severe that unreasonably interferes in the employee's work performance and create an intimidating, abusive and offensive work environment which includes use of racially abusive words or phrases, comments about one's color or other racial characteristics, negative comments about an employee's religious beliefs, negative remarks about an employee's birthplace or ancestry or showing derogatory comments on one's disability or physical impairment.
Constitutional Provisions for Women
The constitution of India respect women and provide following provisions to women:
' The Constitution of India guarantees to all Indian women equality [Article 14]
' No discrimination by the State [Article 15 (1)]
' Equality of opportunity [Article 16]
' Equal pay for equal work [Article 39 (d)]
' Special provisions to be made by the state in favour of women and children [Article 15 (3)]
' Give up derogatory practices to the dignity of women (Article 51 (A)(e)]
' Provisions to be made by the state for securing just and humane condition of work and for maternity relief (Article 42)
From guidelines to Act:
The Sexual harassment at workplace Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on the 2nd of September, 2012. It is now The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. It defines sexual harassment as laid down by the Supreme Court in Vishakha and others v State of Rajasthan (1997) case. The Act protects women from sexual harassment at their place of work and for the prevention and Redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith and incidental their too.
The Sexual Harassment Act requires an employer to set up an 'Internal Complaints Committee' ("ICC") at each office or branch, of an organization employing at least 10 employees. The government is in turn required to set up a 'Local Complaints Committees' ("LCC") at the district level to investigate complaints regarding sexual harassment from establishments where the ICC has not been constituted on account of the establishment having less than 10 employees or if the complaint is against the employer.
The Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 also sets out the constitution of the committees, process to be followed for making a complaint and inquiring into the complaint in a time bound manner.
The rules for the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 have come into force on 9th December, 2013.
Gender Inclusivity at GTU
GTU promotes women candidates to apply on various positions of the university by not charging any kind of application fee in the recruitment process. The intension behind this is to motivate women candidates to apply for various positions of the university.
The number of male and female employees have been shown in the below table1
Male Female Total
Contractual 56 59 115
Permanent 21 13 34
Total 77 72 149
Table 1 (Source: Primary data as on 24.06.2014)
The university runs with the combination of permanent and contractual staff. The university runs with 77% staff appointed on contract basis and 23% staff appointed on permanent basis. But the fact is that there are good number of female employees both in permanent and contractual staff.
Figure 1 (Source: Primary data as on 24.06.2014)
In the contractual staff the female employees are 1% more than the male employees and even in permanent employees 38% are women employees. Therefore we can say there is diversity and balance in the staff which is the result of gender inclusivity policy of the university. The above data has been taken n from the establishment section as on 24th June, 2014.
Impact of Gender Inclusivity
According to participants in the Mercer NASSCOM Gender Inclusivity: Building Empowered Organizations study in 2008, the most significant benefits seen from gender inclusivity efforts include a stronger employer brand, higher levels of productivity and profits, and reduced attrition within the workforce.
Women Development Cell (WDC) at GTU
The university has established a Women Development Cell (WDC) to ensure there is safe working environment for all women working at the university and its affiliated colleges. The WDC strives to create awareness about gender sensitization in younger generation.
Powers of the Women Development Cell
The WDC Cell is empowered to monitor the activities and address the issues concerning women at the collegiate Women Development Committee set up at each affiliated institute level. The cell works under the leadership of Prof. Usha Neelkantan and active pivotal member Prof. Rekha Nair encourages the institutes to organize gender inclusivity workshops, seminars on women rights and their role in society and motivational programmes to help women to develop their human skills, confidence and leadership qualities in all the walks of life.
Constitution of Collegiate Women Development Committee
In February 2011 the university has instructed all its affiliated colleges to establish a Collegiate Women's Development Committee by 11th March, 2011. The objectives of the Collegiate Women Development Committee are:
' To protect women's rights to gender equality and provide a favorable environment for work or study.
' To provide a forum for women on the campus to share information and resources.
Zero tolerance policy on Harassment
The university has the policy of the service to provide employees with a work environment that is free from harassment of all kinds. The service prohibits employment related harassment on the basis of race, color, caste, religion, age, disability, national origin, gender or genetic information.
It also takes serious actions on the recommendations of the Women Development Council if any case occurs on sexual harassment.
Harassment Prevention Policy
The university does not tolerate harassment at the workplace and the management is committed to and supports a harassment free workplace. The employees are instructed to treat all the stakeholders such as students, parents, teachers, vendors with respect.
' Every employee is entitled to work under harassment free work environment
' The university takes utmost care that no incident of harassment occurs at the workplace.
' The university take appropriate actions if any employee is being harassed by another employee.
' The university will not disclose the name of the complainant or an alleged harasser the circumstances of the complainant to anyone, except where disclosure is:
o Necessary to investigate the complaint or take corrective action or
o Required by law
' Employees have the right to file a complaint with the Gujarat State Human Right Commission.
' The officers to be provided training to react appropriately, handle cases properly and maintain a harassment free working environment.
Activities for Development of Women at GTU
Workshop on tackling sexual crime at GTU
Gujarat Technological University organized a workshop on 'measures to tackle the menace of sexual crime against women' for all its affiliating colleges on 21st December, 2013 in association with All India council for Technical Education (AICTE) in which more than 220 participants actively attended the workshop. In this workshop well known speakers such as Dr. Ashok Patel (Director, AICTE, Bhopal Regional Office), Dr. Renu Bapna (Advisor-AICTE), Ms. Meena Jagtap (Leading Lawyer and Social Worker associated with NGO 'DASTAK'), Ms. Ruzan Khambhata (Social Entrepreneur, Director of N Wave Tech Pvt. Ltd., Ahmedabad) were present.
The central theme of the workshop was protection of women against domestic violence and preventing measures to tackle the crime against women through gender sensitization workshop, awareness programmes, counseling of women and training women for self-defense. Ms. Khambhata explained about the use of technology for women protection in emergency cases and explained about the use of Police HEART (Help Emergency Alert Rescue Terminal) for Ahmedabad City. It has saved the life of many women from emergencies like kidnap, rape, molestation, domestic violence etc. by just dialing 1091 SOS number provided women have to register themselves with police heart.
Self Defense Programme for women at GTU
GTU organized Self Defense training programme for all female students and female faculties of affiliated colleges of the university on 13th Sep., 2014 under 'Surksha Setu Karyakram' Dr. Kanan Desai, ACP, Ahmedabad Police was the Chief Guest who is one of the best example of women empowerment delivered expert speech. There were around 150 female participants of the programme including 70 female students, 80 female faculties and administrative staff members of the university. The experts explained various legal rights and provisions for women. Participants are given various techniques for Self Defense in case of emergencies. All the women advised to do registration on police heart helpline. All the participants got the confidence to face any difficulty or emergency in life.
Activities of affiliating colleges towards Women development
' Dr. Jivraj Mehta Institute of Technology organized a seminar on the sensitive issue of 'equality in mind' for the students and staff members on the World Women Day i.e. 8th March, 2011.
' A women entrepreneurship development programme based on the theme 'Yes, I can' was organized by C.K. Shah Vijapurwala Institute of Management, Vadodara in association with Gujarat Technological University on 2nd October, 2012.
' One day seminar on women empowerment-emerging technologies, entrepreneurship development and life management skills was held at Vishwakarma Government Engineering College, Ahmedabad on 30th January, 2014.
' Many professors have actively participated and presented research papers on various issues concerning women. Many institutes celebrate International Women's Day on 8th March and value the contribution of women to the society.
A small research study was conducted among 100 respondents of GTU affiliated colleges. Major findings are given as under:
' 65% respondents said gender inclusivity brings diversity in decision making. The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect of individual differences. It is about understanding each other and celebrating rich dimensions of individuals.
' 73% respondents replied their institute has harassment free working environment. 18% respondents felt harassment because of not getting salary as per norms.
' There is high level of speed and support from management on harassment free work environment scale. They have work autonomy and involved in decision making.
' The study shows there is high level of respect for female. 57% rated 5 for the respect for women.
' 80% colleges have Women Development Committee at their institute level.
' 55% respondents said their institute has 'Open Door Policy' for harassment free working environment means employees can come to the management and make the representation of their grievances.
Future aims of Women Development Cell
As reported by Prof. Usha Neelkantan, Chairperson of WDC at the university in annual report of GTU 2013-14; WDC looks forward to join hands with the institutes to organize more workshops, field visits, camps and activities to promote the academic and individual growth to women to emerge as competent professionals with embodiment of human ethics and enhanced confidence level.
The university has gender inclusivity policy which can be shown in the presence of female at various posts. It has very good harassment prevention policy. Women Development Cell does good activities but still there is a lot to do for the development and protection of women. There is equal pay for equal work in GTU. Women are respected. It has very good sanitary facilities. The Cell is empowered to hear the complaints of women and recommend solution to the university. Strict actions are taken by the management if any cases of harassment is found.
1. NASSCOM Mercer Gender Inclusivity Report
2. 3rd Annual Report, Women Development Cell, Gujarat Technological University dated Jan.16, 2014, p. 31
3. Report on 'Sensitize the Management and Teachers of Technical Institutes to tackle the Menace of Sexual Crime against Women'
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