Gender Discrimination is a systematic, unfavourable treatment of individuals on the basis of their gender (As per the UGC Regulations 2015, Section 3 (d)), which denies them rights, opportunities or resources within any given society. At TISS a strong policy on non-discrimination on the basis of caste, tribe, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and region has emerged over the years. It has been a consistent endeavour on part of all stakeholders to ensure zero tolerance of discriminatory behaviours within the campus.
In the Higher Education Institution (HEI) campuses students, faculty members as well as staff members come from different regions, and diverse social and cultural realities. Very often there are stereotypical ideas and prejudices about the ‘others’, resulting in insensitivity towards certain identities, beliefs, values, including language, and behavioural practices, which in turn may lead to discriminatory behaviour and hostility on campus. As the Saksham document points out, all members in HEIs, in principle should understand the following:
“Given the realities of a heterogeneous and diverse student body, purely punitive approaches to issues of the ‘safety’ of women and gender sensitization serves little purpose in terms of meaningful intervention however ‘well intentioned’ they may be. Instead approaches must be educative, preventive and correctional”
Therefore in colleges and universities which are spaces in which people with different ideas and patterns of socialization about gender issues interact, cultures of inclusion and sensitivity to diversity become an important pre- requisite to respond to violence of all kinds and more especially when women members are the targets. Gender justice on campuses is clearly not an ‘isolated operation’ requiring quick fix solutions, but an exercise involving a perspectival shift that is able to set down norms of respect, non-discrimination and the unacceptability of any abuse of power, along with robust processes of debate, discussion and dialogue. This has to be the purpose of a new pedagogy within which issues of gender justice are seen as an integral part - not as ‘women’s issues’ to be ghettoized or added on to academic or curricular agendas as a ‘requirement’ or afterthought. Similar steps need to be taken on issues of gender non-normative identities/expressions, sexualities and relationships among different genders.
Each year TISS facilitates the election of students to become representatives of Women Development Cells. These students are trained and oriented to actively counsel other students who may be facing difficulties based on gender and also identify sexist behaviours among the members of TISS community and report the same to the Women Development Cell (comprising of faculty, student and staff members). Some of the other roles performed by these students are:
In view of the UGC guidelines and proposal on gender champions, from the academic year 2018-19 the WDC student representatives are being re-designated as Gender Champions (GCs). The number of such Gender Champions will be selected from each of the BA and MA programmes offered at TISS, at each of its four campuses. There will be one GC for every study programme giving at least 40-50 GCs in the Mumbai campus and about 10-15 in the off-site campuses.
Selection PrinciplesThe students shall be selected by the Head of the Institution in consultation with the student and faculty representatives of the Women Development Cell of TISS on the basis of their potential and having commitment to gender issues. The following criteria will be kept in mind for selection:
Duties and Responsibilities of the Nodal Faculty
Term of Gender Champions:The term of Gender Champions will be for one year, extendable by one more year, based on their performance during the year. The selection of GCs will be done within one month of the beginning of the academic year.
Monitoring and Evaluation
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