Women Development at TISS will undertake a range of activities for gender awareness within the campus. It is autonomous of the Internal Committee (IC) but at the same time it will extend its activities in consultation with the IC as mentioned in the UGC (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students at Higher Education) Regulations 2015.
The UGC Regulations that apply to Higher Education Institutions (HEI) make reference to bodies such as the GSCASH and Women Development Cell in two different contexts.
Section 2 Definitions, sub-section (i) “…Any existing body already functioning with the same objective (like the Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH)) should be reconstituted as the ICC…”
Section 3.2 titled Supportive Measures, sub-section (15) states that,
“The Women’s Development Cells in colleges shall be revived and funded to be able to carry out the range of activities required for gender sensitization and remain autonomous of the functioning of anti- sexual harassment committees and ICCs. At the same time they shall extend their activities to include gender sensitization programmes in consultation with ICCs and help to disseminate anti-sexual harassment policies on campuses on a regular basis. The ‘cultural’ space and the ‘formal academic space’ need to collaborate to render these workshops innovative, engaging and nonmechanical”.
These regulations make a distinction between supportive measures [section 3 of the regulations] including activities relating to gender sensitisation and redressal mechanisms [section 4 of the regulations] for cases of harassment. The regulations relegate the first function to Women’s Development Cells and the second to Internal Complaints Committees. Thus WDC will be the general committee that looks after issues such as sensitisation, awareness, prevention of harassment including formulating policy on gender and other related aspects of inclusion; and a separate sub-section of the committee that addresses complaints and is designated as the IC.
Another aspect related to nomenclature is that the same UGC Regulations cite the need to include persons who are vulnerable due to their gender identity/ expression and sexual orientation. For instance,
3 (d) under point 3, Responsibilities of the Higher Educational Institution, sub section (d) states, “act decisively against all gender based violence perpetrated against employees and students of all sexes recognising that primarily women employees and students and some male students and students of the third gender are vulnerable to many forms of sexual harassment and humiliation and exploitation;
Section 3.2 titled Supportive Measures, sub section (3) states,
“Vulnerable groups are particularly prone to harassment and also find it more difficult to complain. Vulnerability can be socially compounded by region, class, caste, sexual orientation, minority identity and by being differently abled. Enabling committees must be sensitive to such vulnerabilities and special needs”.
In addition there is the 2014 Supreme Court verdict that emphasises inclusion of gender non-conforming and transgender individuals within educational institutions and in accordance of which several universities including TISS has added a third column of ‘Transgender’ or ‘Other’ in our admission forms as well as degree certificates.
Therefore at TISS Women Development Cell (WDC) which is in conformity with the UGC guidelines of 2015 also reiterates that, persons in gender-marginal locations, including cis-women and persons of non-normative genders and sexualities will constitute the core constituencies and also remain as one of the core components of its work and interventions.
Members of the Women Development Cell
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